At halftime, the LSU-Alabama game Saturday night at Tiger Stadium last night resembled the game that took place between the two teams in 2011 where the Tigers won the game, 9-6, in Tuscaloosa.
However, the main difference between that classic encounter 5 years ago and last night was that after halftime, things remained positive for LSU until the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Shockingly enough, or maybe not so shocking, it took only two game-changing plays to help No. 1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0) defeat No. 13 LSU (5-3, 3-2) in Death Valley Saturday night.
With the loss, LSU suffered its first home shutout since 2002.
Following the end of the third quarter, Jalen Hurts and the Crimson Tide changed the “course” of the game.
After two solid runs from Hurts, on the next play, he rolled out of the pocket and dashed for a 21- yard rushing touchdown to give Alabama a 7-0 lead and the first points of the the contest.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) carries for a 21 yard touchdown against the LSU Tigers during the fourth quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Quarterback Danny Etling and Tigers looked put together a scoring drive of their own but the Crimson Tide had other plans.
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As Etling sat in the pocket to find an open receiver, Alabama’s Ryan Anderson delivered a huge hit on Etling as he released the ball, resulting in an interception by Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The Fitzpatrick interception put the Crimson Tide in good field position. Defensively, however, LSU made a huge stand in limiting Alabama to field goal, giving the Crimson Tide a 10-0 lead.
Etling, who was under pressure the entire night, continued to struggle against the defensive pressure of Alabama as he could not put together a scoring drive.
Leonard Fournette, who looked to redeem himself from his performance a year ago against Alabama, was shut down as the Crimson Tide limited him to 35 yards on 17 carries.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) during the second half of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
As a positive, the Tigers’ defense did everything it could to limit Alabama offensively. Kendell Beckwith, Lewis Neal, Duke Riley and Dwayne Thomas combined for 45 tackles as the core players for LSU on defense.
Although the Tigers limited the Crimson Tide to one touchdown and a field goal Alabama controlled the offensive line when it needed to, allowing Hurts to make plays with his legs and running backs Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough the ability to make big plays.
In the game, Alabama won the battle of third-down conversions, going 7-of-17 as opposed to LSU finishing the game, 4-of-15.
The Crimson Tide recorded 16 first downs to LSU’s six for the entire game, with much credit going to Alabama’s defense line for shutting down for Fournette and keeping heavy pressure on Etling.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Danny Etling (16) is hit by Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster (10) as he slides during the second quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
With the loss, the Tigers limited or ended their chances for consideration into the College Football Playoff unless stranger things happen within the SEC West as the month of November unfolds.
Alabama remains in control of its own destiny. For LSU, however, the Tigers must remain focused on their last three games, which are all SEC opponents, in Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M.
Arkansas defeated SEC East leader Florida, 31-10, and Miss. State defeated fourth-ranked Texas A&M, 35-28.
As one can see, anything can happen in the SEC.
For LSU, the Tigers have a lot left to fight for in the 2016 season. How LSU bounces back from this loss in its matchup against Arkansas — who the Tigers lost to a year ago — will set the tone of how the team will matchup against its final two opponents of the season…..