LSU put up a good fight on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but the Crimson Tide prevailed 20-14 in an unexpectedly close game.
Ed Orgeron dialed up a fake punt on the Tigers’ first drive of the game. Punter Avery Atkins took the snap, ran toward the line of scrimmage, and floated a pass to tight end Jack Mashburn before Alabama’s linebackers could converge.
A few plays later, freshman receiver Brain Thomas walked into the end zone after catching a short pass from Max Johnson. LSU led 7-0, and Bryant-Denny Stadium was quiet.
LSU’s defense befuddled Alabama’s offense for much of the first half. Orgeron spent the week saying his defense needed to show more complex, less predictable looks. And that’s exactly what they did. To compensate for their depleted secondary, LSU blitzed heavily and played zone coverage, giving receivers a large cushion. They sent linebackers Damone Clark, Micah Baskerville and Mike Jones Jr. on disguised blitzes.
Alabama didn’t figure out the defense until late in the first half, when they capitalized on an interception with a touchdown that frustrated LSU. At the half, the Tide led 14-7. They passed for 191 yards, but rushed for only 25. Until the last three minutes of the half, LSU held them scoreless, but could not capitalize on offense. After the touchdown drive, the Tigers punted three straight times and threw the interception.
On LSU’s first drive of the first half, Tyrion Davis-Price fumbled, and Alabama scored a 58-yard touchdown to go up 20-7. The Crimson Tide seemed on the verge of taking over, but LSU fought back.
Freshman receiver Jack Bech scored an eight-yard touchdown to cap an impressive 14-play, 89-yard drive that chewed nearly six minutes of game clock. LSU's defense gave its offense four chances to take the lead: they forced Alabama to punt three times, then safety Cam Lewis stripped quarterback Bryce Young, and the Tigers took over in Alabama territory.
But Davis-Price ran for no gain on first down. Then a Johnson pass was batted down. Then Jackson was hit down low and lofted a duck incomplete. On fourth down, Alabama blitzed the house forced Johnson to throw off his back foot. The ball sailed over Bech's head, and the game was over.
“I truly thought we were the better team tonight," Orgeron said. "We came up just a couple plays short."