10 quick thoughts on LSU’s 46-41 win over Alabama.
LSU 46, Alabama 41
10. Was Tua Tagovailoa’s ankle really a problem? His mobility wasn’t there, and he might have been a sitting duck a bit too often, but the arm was fine, the deep ball worked, and he made the most of his 21 completions. He threw for 418 yards and four scores, but there was one bad pick. With Tagovailoa not able to run …
9. It was the Najee Harris show for key stretches, and he looked and played the NFL part. The big back rumbled for 146 yards and a score on 19 carries, made a fantastic catch – on a better throw – to finish with 44 receiving yards and a score on three catches, and he turned into just the type of steadying force the team needed.
8. Once again, Clyde Edwards-Helaire came up large. The smallish back fought, scratched and clawed his way to 103 yards and three scores, and he caught nine passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. LSU’s offense might have staled a bit in the second half, but Edwards-Helaire did just enough to keep things moving and slow down the momentum. This was the Joe Burrow Heisman-clinching game, but Edwards-Helaire might have been the best player on the field in this thing. Speaking of best players …
7. The Alabama receivers are so ridiculous. Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson did a great job for LSU – Chase came up with a massive 140-yard day – but the parts were humming for the Tide.
Jaylen Waddle came up with a desperately needed punt return for a score, Henry Ruggs came up with 68 yards, and Jerry Jeudy – who dropped a few big plays – caught five passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. DeVonta Smith was amazing, catching seven passes for 213 yards and two scores.
6. No one is going to want to do this – and only focus on the big home loss and all the points the D gave up – but give Bama credit. This game was effectively over at halftime. LSU was up 33-13, it was getting the ball to start the second half, and it all appeared to be too big a mountain to climb. But it got right there and made it a game late, which might be important because …
5. The fight for the four best teams at the end of the rainbow is going to be amazing. 46-41 – even at home – was close enough, and Bama is talented enough, that it might just get the nod over a 12-1 Power Five conference championship. But based on talent, there’s Ohio State, LSU, Clemson, Alabama and Georgia. This is going to be a month-long argument.
4. Now the Iron Bowl is a really, really big deal. For everyone screaming that Alabama has to be out of the College Football Playoff chase now, it has to not just beat Auburn, but it has to win by a bajillion. That’s going to be the one decent, restaurant-quality win on the slate, and it’s going to have to be convincing enough to make the committee care.
3. Is the Heisman race over? Unless there’s a total meltdown, who else could possibly overtake Joe Burrow from here on? Jalen Hurts? Maybe, but would blowing away Baylor – if that happens – be enough? Justin Fields deserves consideration, but that’s not happening. Chase Young is effectively done, and so is Tua Tagovailoa. If Burrow does this for a few more games, and if LSU goes to the College Football Playoff, this could be an all-timer of a landslide.
2. So who’s that No. 4 team according to the College Football Playoff committee if it’s not Alabama? Georgia? Lost at home to South Carolina. That’s not as okay as it is to lose to the No. 2 team. Oregon? Lost to Auburn – who technically should be ranked higher than the Ducks. Oklahoma? Lost to Kansas State? Baylor or Minnesota? Yeah, sure, but don’t be stunned if Bama is still in the top four. HOWEVER, no 11-1 team that didn’t win a conference title has ever gotten in over a 12-1 Power Five conference championship.
1. LSU isn’t going to lose to Arkansas. Playing at Ole Miss will be dangerous, and Texas A&M is a potential problem, but as long as LSU wins two of its last three games and takes out – likely – Georgia in the SEC championship, it’s in. If it wins out and goes 13-0, it’s almost certainly going to be the No. 1 seed and in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.