BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU defense brought it Saturday night in the only college football game this season to go into the fourth quarter with both teams scoreless. Not even the games played in Hurricane Matthew’s stormy wake could lay claim to that feat.
However, the offense was nowhere to be found as Alabama’s defense was never seriously tested in a 10-0 win. LSU had more punts (eight) than first downs (six) as it was shut out for the first time since a 17-0 loss to Arkansas in 2014.
LSU’s hopes at the College Football Playoff are done, and now Ed Orgeron needs some help to hold on to his dream job down the stretch.
Twice the LSU defense did its job, forcing turnovers on the Alabama side of the 50.
No opportunity was more golden than Jamal Adams’ interception at the 33-yard line to end Alabama’s first possession with the home crowd still juiced up from its pregame buzz. But LSU managed to gain only 1 yard on the drive of three pass attempts, setting up a 49-yard Colby Delahoussaye field goal attempt that was blocked.
Frank Herron’s strip-sack in the third quarter was the second such golden opportunity, as Arden Key jumped on the ball to give LSU possession at the Alabama 42.
But the Tigers moved the wrong way after a brawl on the LSU sideline that led to offsetting penalties — three against Alabama and one against LSU canceled each other out equally.
After getting to the Bama 37, LSU marched backwards after taking a delay of game rather than burn its final timeout, then an 11-yard sack on third down.
Etling uncool under pressure
On the night America sets its clocks back, Danny Etling’s internal clock sprung forward.
After taking three sacks on LSU’s first two possessions, Etling sped things up too much in his head, and the results were ugly. The junior’s timing was off the rest of the night as he missed open targets on more than one occasion. He threw behind one first-down target, then short-hopped another.
In other words, for the first time since taking over as LSU’s starter, he looked like a guy who played for Purdue at some point in his lifetime.
A game-changing inch?
LSU’s best chance at moving into the Alabama red zone was in the second quarter when Etling hit D.J. Chark for an apparent 30-yard gain to the Crimson Tide 15. But the sideline officials correctly saw that the front half of Chark’s foot was out of bounds when he made the grab. The Tigers never got any closer.
Play with timeouts, get burned
LSU’s offense burned two timeouts in the third quarter because Etling was uncomfortable with what he saw and didn’t have time to change the play. That meant once Alabama had the lead and the ball with under 5 minutes left, this one was all but over.
Jalen Hurts was held mostly in check on the ground for the first three quarters with 44 yards on 11 carries. But the poised freshman took matters into his own hands in the fourth, where he gained 68 yards on eight carries including a dagger 23-yard gain on third-and-15 late in the fourth quarter.
His 21-yard touchdown scramble, the only touchdown of the game, was truly a thing over wonder against a defense as speedy as LSU’s.