This year’s version of Alabama-LSU may not match the magnitude of the epic 9-6 game just a few seasons ago, but it sure is playing out to be quite the defensive battle in Death Valley tonight. After seeing Auburn come up short at home in the hours leading up to the game, Alabama is hoping to avoid being the second SEC team upset today. Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper is doing his part to keep the Tide in it with a second quarter touchdown to tie things up at 7-7. A late field goal in the first half gave Alabama a small 10-7 lead at the half. Cooper set a new school record for most receiving yards in the process.
Cooper did what the best players in the sport do. When his team needed a lift, he provided it. On a fourth down with four yards to go, Nick Saban kept his offense on the field and was rewarded with Cooper catching a pass for a first down from Blake Sims. Moments later, Cooper caught a ball and found room to the end zone to tie the game on a 23-yard scoring play. Saban has suggested before he would like to see others on offense step it up, but if Cooper is going to be able to carry the team on his back then Saban is not going to hesitate to let it happen.
It was LSU that opened the scoring in this one though, in the first quarter. Quarterback Anthony Jennings lobbed one up for Malachi Dupre from 14 yards out. Dupre hauled in he pass along the left side of the end zone, but the play was initially called incomplete. The SEC officials took to the instant replay to get a better look and wasted little time in overturning the initial ruling, awarding LSU a touchdown. LSU’s offense has not been able to do much outside of that possession though. Jennings has completed just two of 10 passes for 31 yards, the one touchdown and one interception.
Alabama had a chance to get on the scoreboard earlier in the second quarter, but kicker Adam Griffith had his 27-yard attempt smack the top of the left upright and fell back toward the end zone, keeping Alabama off the scoreboard and igniting a litany of Twitter jokes about Alabama’s kicking woes. Perhaps that led Nick Saban to keep his offense on the field on the next possession when faced with a fourth down from farther out. That decision paid off with the Cooper touchdown. Griffith would make up for the miss later in the second quarter by sending a 39-yard try through the uprights, giving Alabama a 10-7 lead.