Alabama vs. LSU score, takeaways: No. 2 Tide survive inconsistent play, strong effort by Tigers

No. 2 Alabama survived a scare from rival LSU on Saturday night despite playing at home in Bryant-Denny Stadium as a 28.5-point favorite. The Crimson Tide pulled off a 20-14 win despite inconsistent play in all three phases of the game, including a missed field goal and extra point that made the game closer than it should have been in the fourth quarter.

LSU quarterback Max Johnson's 30-yard prayer fell incomplete as time expired, but it wouldn't have mattered as a facemask on the final play of the game would have allowed Alabama escape from a Tigers squad that played hard on behalf of lame duck coach Ed Orgeron. The Alabama stand came after an all-out blitz forced Johnson to get rid of a pass to Jack Bech off of his back foot on fourth-and-9 to protect the six-point lead with 2:36 to play. This after Tide QB Bryce Young fumbled and the Tigers recovered on the Alabama 41-yard line with 3:25 play.

LSU was able to hang with the Crimson Tide due to a stifling defense that shut down Brian Robinson and the Tide running game. Robinson managed just 18 yards on 13 carries, but did score one touchdown that tied the game at seven in the first quarter. The team as a whole gained just 49 sack-adjusted rushing yards -- an average of 2.2 yards per carry. 

Young was able to shoulder the load despite the running game's struggles, however. The redshirt sophomore completed 24 of 27 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns, one of which came with 48 seconds of the first half to give the Tide a 14-7 lead. That touchdown came five plays after Jayln Armour-Davis picked off Johnson to give the ball to the Tide at the LSU 39-yard line -- a play that gave Alabama momentum for the first time in what was a sleep first half.

Johnson finished the day 16 of 32 for 160 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the losing effort.

Focus on the positives

Believe it or not, there are bright spots to take away from this game if you're head coach Nick Saban. 

Linebacker Will Anderson, Jr. was the star of the afternoon. The redshirt sophomore had 12 tackles, four for loss, 1.5 sacks, one pass breakup and two quarterback hurries while essentially holding a mortgage in the LSU offensive backfield. Anderson did so at key times, especially early in the fourth quarter when he notched two tackles and two quarterback hurries -- including one on fourth-and-7 on the Alabama 7-yard line with 6:46 to play -- to thwart LSU's last legitimate chance at the win. It's not the first time Anderson has shined on the national stage, either. He had 2.5 tackles for loss against Ole Miss and 3.5 at Florida -- two of the Crimson Tide's biggest games of the year -- to establish himself as one of the best defensive players in college football.

Young was, of course, the other bright spot. The redshirt sophomore was able to top the 300-yard mark through the air despite the lack of help from his running game and offensive line. Simply put, the deficiencies up front and on the ground have put a ton of pressure on the first-year starter all year, and he still finds a way to get the job done. Just wait until offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien fixes the Tide's issues. 

Now ... the negatives

We currently live in a world where the bigger, faster and stronger Alabama offensive line looks like a middle-tier FBS line than one that is supposed to dominate. Don't get me wrong, Robinson and the other running backs have to do better as well, but they aren't getting any help. 

This has become an alarming trend for the Crimson Tide. They've rushed for under 5 yards per carry in each of the last five games, three of which rank in the bottom half of the conference in rushing defense. It's one thing to sleep walk against lesser competition. But this is to a point where it's fair to call the rushing offense below average by normal standards, not just the elevated Crimson Tide standard. 

The inability to run the football is what makes Alabama a national title pretender as opposed to a contender. 

Give it to the Tigers

A round of applause for LSU's players. The future is in doubt with the coaching change on the horizon, but instead of 85 players going in 85 directions, coach Ed Orgeron has found a way to keep his team motivated down the stretch. 

All it took on Saturday night was a little juice. The fake punt on the first drive of the game clearly loosened the Tigers up and allowed them to give Alabama's its toughest test of the year outside of the Texas A&M loss. Punter Avery Atkins pulled up on a fake run up the middle and found Jack Mashburn for a 26-yard gain on the jump pass to keep the first drive of the game going. 

That's just great coaching from Orgeron. He knows that Alabama has the ability to strike while the iron is hot, but that fake punt allowed his team to control the tempo and style of the game from the outset. Those players are still playing for him and for each other.

Alabama should fall in CFP rankings

It was a surprise to nearly every college football fan in the country when Alabama chimed in at the No. 2 spot in the first edition of the College Football Playoff Rankings, but it won't be there for long. Selection committee members should recognize that the same problems for Alabama keep cropping up no matter who it's playing. 

Sure, other top teams will make the committee's job hard this week. No. 3 Michigan State fell to Purdue, No. 4 Oregon struggled with Washington and No. 6 Cincinnati survived a big scare from Tulsa. But, at this point, where's Alabama's signature win? Ole Miss is 7-2 and ranked No. 16, but other than that, it's a win over Mississippi State -- which will likely fall out of the rankings after losing to Arkansas. 

This isn't a top-four team right now. If the committee puts it there, it's because of brand recognition more than anything else. 

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BAMA -29, o67
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BAMA -29, O/U 67

Season Leaders

passing
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M. Johnson2815 YD, 27 TDS, 6 INTS
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M. Johnson2815 YD, 27 TDS, 6 INTS
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B. Young4872 YD, 47 TDS, 7 INTS
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B. Young4872 YD, 47 TDS, 7 INTS
rushing
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T. Davis-Price211 ATT, 1004 YD, 6 TDS
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T. Davis-Price211 ATT, 1004 YD, 6 TDS
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B. Robinson Jr.270 ATT, 1337 YD, 14 TDS
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B. Robinson Jr.270 ATT, 1337 YD, 14 TDS
receiving
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K. Boutte38 REC, 509 YD, 9 TDS
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K. Boutte38 REC, 509 YD, 9 TDS
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J. Williams79 REC, 1572 YD, 15 TDS
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J. Williams79 REC, 1572 YD, 15 TDS
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November 7, 2021, 2:40 AM
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November 7, 2021, 2:40 AM
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November 7, 2021, 2:39 AM
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LSU forces the turnover

LSU defensive back Cameron Lewis hit Bryce Young and forced a fumble to set the Tigers up at the Bama 42-yard line with just over three minutes to play. If you're not watching ESPN, do it now. 

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November 7, 2021, 2:13 AM
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LSU catches a break

LSU had gone 61 yards on 13 plays, but Phildarian Mathis sacked Max Johnson and recovered the fumble on the Alabama 20-yard line. The play was reviewed, and it was determined that Johnson's hand was moving forward before the ball was jarred loose. LSU staying alive.

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Alabama is losing at the line of scrimmage

It's remarkable to see Alabama struggle on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Its offensive line can't get anything going and its defense is getting worn down by the LSU running game. Those Tigers are inside the 10-yard line down 20-14 with a chance to take the lead. 

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November 7, 2021, 1:49 AM
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November 7, 2021, 1:47 AM
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November 7, 2021, 1:40 AM
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Three-and-out for the Alabama offense

This is starting to get scary for the Crimson Tide. They went three-and-out after quarterback Bryce Young was stopped short of the line to gain on a quarterback scramble. They still lead 20-14, but this is the sloppiest Tide team that we've seen all year. 

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@LSUfootball via Twitter
November 7, 2021, 1:32 AM
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LSU catches a break, and cashes in

LSU got bailed out when Alabama got called for a horse-collar tackle on third-down to extend a drive, even though it appeared that LSU wide receiver Trey Palmer was hauled down from the front. Max Johnson his Jack Bech on the very next play for an eight-yard touchdown to make it 20-14. Things are starting to get sketchy in Tuscaloosa.

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@AlabamaFTBL via Twitter
November 7, 2021, 1:00 AM
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November 7, 2021, 1:00 AM
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Bama comes out hot

Alabama capitalized on LSU's mistake late in the second quarter by putting up touchdowns on back-to-back drives, sandwiched around halftime. Bryce Young completed a 58-yard pass to Jameson Williams to push the lead to 20-7. Alabama looked disinterested in the first quarter, but caught fire and looks exactly like the second-best team in the nation.

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November 7, 2021, 12:59 AM
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