There was a six minute period Saturday night when it appeared No. 2 LSU could play with No. 4 Alabama. Trailing 10-0, the Tigers mounted a six-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 40-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Harris to Travin Dural to pull within 10-7, pushed the Tide backwards six yards on three plays on their next possession, then moved 45 yards to notch a game-tying field goal with 2:22 remaining before the half.
Those six minutes belonged to LSU, and the other 54 belonged to Alabama. The Crimson Tide manhandled LSU, winning 30-16 in Tuscaloosa and claiming their fifth-straight triump in this hotly contested series.
Alabama’s defense swallowed Heisman Trophy favorite Leonard Fournette for the entire evening, limiting him to only 31 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries. The inability to get Fournette going in turn stifled LSU’s entire offense, as Alabama defenders blanketed LSU pass-catchers, which limited Harris to just 128 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception on 6-of-19 passing.
Meanwhile, Tide running back Derrick Henry posted the type of night Fournette could not, rushing a career-high 38 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Jake Coker was a typically efficient 18-of-24 passing for 184 yards, and Kenyan Drake added 10 carries for 68 yards.
After LSU tied the game at 10-10, Alabama notched a 55-yard Adam Griffith field goal just before the half, and then extended that momentum into the third quarter, as a pair of Henry scoring jaunts pushed the lead to 27-10.
Griffith added a 30-yard field goal with 12:45 remaining to nudge the score to 30-10, and LSU scored three minutes later with a one-yard Fournette plunge.
Instead of mounting a comeback, LSU watched Henry put the game away. The Tigers, in fact, never touched the ball again as Alabama consumed the final 9:18 with a 12-play, 80-yard drive.
In the end, Alabama out-gained LSU 434-182, held a 28-12 first downs edge and snapped the ball 79 times to LSU’s 45.
The win, coupled with Ole Miss’s loss earlier Saturday, put Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC) firmly in control of its destiny to meet Florida in the SEC championship game, needing only wins at Mississippi State (next week) and Auburn (Nov. 28) to win the SEC West for the second straight year and third time in the last four years. LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC) would need to win out against Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M while waiting on another Alabama loss.
And, as the Tigers saw up close and personal Saturday night, that isn’t likely to happen.