No. 1 Alabama stomped defending national champion LSU 55-17 on Saturday night in Death Valley with the Crimson Tide's top offensive playmakers carrying the load for the nation's highest-ranked team. With the win, Alabama clinched the SEC West and an appearance in the 2020 SEC Championship game, where it will take on No. 1 Florida.
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith and running back Najee Harris each logged three touchdowns while combining for 379 yards from scrimmage for Alabama.
Smith (eight receptions, 231 yards) was absolutely unstoppable with all of his stats coming in the first half. The Tigers' secondary could barely keep up with the senior pass catcher, and his dynamic ability completely opened up the game. Harris (21 carries, 145 yards rushing, 3 yards receiving) found open lanes all night against LSU's defensive front. That made for an easy night for quarterback Mac Jones, who completed 20 of 28 passes for 379 yards with four touchdowns, the other going to tight end Jahleel Billingsley.
LSU was simply unable to get going on offense. The only highlights were a 54-yard touchdown run by John Emery Jr. and a wild fumble recovery by Jontre Kirklin, who picked up a Kayshon Boutte fumble in the end zone after Boutte dropped it too early.
Alabama outgained LSU 650-352, averaging a whopping 19.3 yards per completion and 9.0 yards per play.
Bama's 55 points were the most for either team in the history of the series, which dates back to 1895. The previous high was 47 by the Tide in 1922. The 38-point win was the largest for either team since Alabama beat LSU 42-0 in 1925, and Bama's 55 points were the second-most points allowed by LSU in the history of Tiger Stadium.
Let's have a gander at some key takeaways from the Alabama-LSU game.
DeVonta Smith for Heisman?
I'm a Heisman Trophy voter, and I've had Florida quarterback Kyle Trask atop my midseason rankings for about six weeks. That's not the case anymore. Smith is my guy. No, it's not a knock against the Gators quarterback. Trask has been awesome and will be in virtual New York City as a Heisman finalist. Smith deserves it more ... at least right now. I typically factor in three things when choosing who I put on my ballot: value to the team, contribution to overall team success and pure production. Smith checks every box.
There are countless valuable players on Alabama's roster, but Jones' job would be much harder without Smith -- especially after Jaylen Waddle went down with an injury. Nothing against John Metchie III. He would be a great wide receiver if Smith wasn't there, but teams would gear up to stop Jones and Harris enough to at least slow down this offense. Smith's contribution to his team's success is obvious since he's the best player on the best and most complete team in the country. His pure production looks more like a video game stat line than something you see in real life.
There is still time for Trask, or anybody for that matter, to make a run. But if our Heisman ballots had to be in tomorrow, Smith would be at the top of mine.
Things gotta change in Atlanta ... for Florida
For all intents and purposes, the SEC Championship Game between Florida and Alabama will be a de facto national quarterfinal. Well, as long as both of them handle their business next weekend and don't look ahead. From the look of things, it's going to be more like a victory lap than a competitive football game. Florida can't run. It had 21 yards rushing against a Tennessee defense that leaves a lot to be desired. Dameon Pierce is a capable running back, but the offensive line simply can't run block. It's so concerning to coach Dan Mullen that he didn't even bother to try, even when the Gators had salted Saturday's win over the Volunteers.
What do you think Alabama is going to do? Pin its ears back and let it rip on Trask. The Tide had seven tackles for loss against LSU and hashave33 over the last five games. If Florida didn't bother against Tennessee, it's not even going to be a consideration against Alabama. That means it'll be Trask vs. Patrick Surtain II and the rest of the Tide secondary. Trask better be perfect; otherwise, the Tide will roll.
Bo's gotta go
It's long past time for Orgeron to fire defensive coordinator Bo Pelini. Saturday night's performance is just the latest instance of his defense getting torched. No, it's not a slight to Alabama's offense. Everybody knows that it's insanely good. But why on Earth would Pelini stay in man coverage after his secondary continued to get burned like overdone Louisiana gator tail?
It's the same thing every week going back to the season-opener when Mississippi State quarterback K.J. Costello set the single-game SEC passing record against a Tiger defense that just wouldn't make adjustments. This has got to be brutal for Orgeron to watch. A defensive line coach by trade, Orgeron hired Pelini to replace Dave Aranda with the goal of not suffering a significant drop of after massive personnel turnover. It has fallen off a cliff despite Derek Stingley Jr., JaCoby Stevens and Todd Harris remaining in the defensive backfield.
This is not acceptable. Orgeron gets a Mulligan for this season. The national title hangover is a bit stronger than expected, but it doesn't erase what was done last season. There are cracks in the LSU foundation, and Orgeron has to fill them quickly. That starts with a change at defensive coordinator. If he doesn't, those cracks in the foundation will turn into sinkholes.