Tagovailoa, No. 1 Alabama roll past No. 3 LSU, 29-0
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa threw two touchdown passes and ran 44 yards for a score in his toughest test this season, Alabama’s defense stifled No. 4 LSU, and the top-ranked Crimson Tide remained unbeaten with a 29-0 victory Saturday night.
Tagovailoa took the field wearing a brace on right knee, threw his first interception of the season late in the first half and also played into the fourth quarter for the first time this season. None of those developments proved consequential. He was 25-of-42 passing for 295 yards and moved as well as well as he needed to, particularly when he sprinted up the middle of the field or his long TD run in the third quarter to give Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC, No. 1 CFP) a 22-0 lead.
Tagovailoa limped off the field after that play, went into the medical tent for some treatment and rode a stationary bike on the sideline, but returned for the next series.
LSU (7-2, 4-2, No. 3 CFP) entered a chance to control of the SEC Western Division with a victory, but that began to decreasingly realistic with every possession.
Alabama led 16-0 by halftime and forced LSU punts on the Tigers’ first nine possessions. LSU drove to the Alabama 15 on its tenth series early in the fourth quarter, only to miss a field goal with 10:45 to go.
Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow completed 18 of 35 passes for 184 yards. He was sacked five times and had a pass intercepted in the end zone late in the back by linebacker Mack Wilson. Nose guard Quinnen Williams finished with 2 1/2 sacks. Lineabckers Anfernee Jennings and Christian Miller each had one. The Tigers were helpless to relieve pressure on Burrow with the running game, held to 12 yards all game.
Defensively, the Crimson Tide rarely looked fooled and more often seemed to anticipate what was coming. Most LSU plays ended with crimson jerseys swarming to the ball at, near or behind the line of scrimmage.
Alabama finished with a 576-196 advantage in total yards and spent 35:18 in possession of the ball.
Damien Harris rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries, including his 1-yard TD run, for Alabama. Najee Harris gained 83 yards on the ground, 29 on one carry.
Jerry Jeudy caught eight passes for 103 yards, Irv Smith Jr. had four catches for 64 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown grab late in the first half.
Henry Ruggs III caught four passes for 55 yards and scored the first touchdown of the game, but injured his left leg late in the second quarter.
Tagovailoa’s interception came on a deep throw down the middle, which Todd Harris Jr. hauled in for his first career pick while falling to the ground at the LSU 4.
The Tiger Stadium crowd went wild, as it appeared the turnover might get LSU to halftime down by no more than nine points, perhaps less, if the Tigers could move the ball.
But the Crimson Tide’s response was emphatic, however. Burrow was sacked inside the 1-yard line, and LSU had to punt shortly afterward.
Alabama got the ball back on its 46 and Tagovailoa needed just two plays — a 29-yard pass to Jeudy, followed by his scoring strike to Smith — to widen the Tide’s lead.
Alabama: The best defense Alabama has faced this season wasn’t good enough on its own field to stop the Tide from gashing it for numerous plays of 20-plus yards and covering a 14-point spread on the road by 15 points.
LSU: The Tigers’ athleticism and effort kept the score respectable into the second half, but key statistical differentials in yards and time of possession told the story of a thoroughly lopsided game in Alabama’s favor. LSU has had to shuffle its offensive line much of the season, and the Tigers struggled to match the Tide physically at the point of attack. Guard Garett Brumfield tried to come back for the first time in four games, but he struggled and was replaced by Chasen Hines to start the second half.
Alabama hosts Mississippi State on Saturday.
LSU travels to Arkansas on Saturday.