Joe Burrow and No. 2 LSU withstood a second-half rally from No. 3 Alabama in arguably the biggest college football clash of the season so far, with College Football Playoff implications and SEC bragging rights on the line. Here's what went down in the Tigers' 46-41 victory Saturday over the Crimson Tide.
Three takeaways from LSU's win over Alabama:
LSU is the best team in the country. With all due respect to the College Football Playoff selection committee, there is no team in the nation that matches the wins the Tigers have on the season. To go on the road at Alabama and jump out to a 20-point halftime lead, then put together a decisive fourth-quarter drive just when it seemed the Crimson Tide were ready to seize momentum shows just how far LSU has come this season. The Tigers had not beaten Alabama since 2011, so this was a huge obstacle they had to get past. But putting together this type of offensive performance after years of ineptitude in this series proved something entirely different. LSU scored a combined 26 points in its previous four meetings against Alabama. The Tigers exceeded that total in the first half alone, with 33.
This game ended up being the classic we expected. It was jarring to see Alabama trail 33-13 at halftime, but the Tide's second-half comeback made this the type of game we thought we'd see going into the day. Tua Tagovailoa, coming off ankle surgery, did everything he could to get Alabama back into it, and so did his spectacular receivers and running back Najee Harris. They seemed to find their groove just when the game seemed out of reach, and the back-and-forth drives in the fourth quarter served to illustrate just how good Tagovailoa and Burrow are at running their respective offenses. The final score was the most combined points in series history. But at the same time, you can bet some of the uncharacteristic mistakes Alabama made in the first half are going to be what coach Nick Saban harps on the most. What if Tagovailoa doesn't fumble running toward the end zone on the opening drive? Perhaps the complexion of the game is completely different.
Is Joe Burrow the Heisman front-runner now? Burrow made one clutch play after another when LSU absolutely had to have them, most particularly in the fourth quarter when Alabama closed the deficit two separate times to one score. Everyone always talks about Heisman moments. Perhaps Burrow had his on the 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter that featured three clutch third-down conversions -- two Burrow passes and a Burrow run -- and extended the lead back to two scores. Then there's the late-fourth-quarter scoring drive drive, after Alabama cut it to 39-34, and Burrow made a first-down run on third-and-2 that he punctuated with a first-down signal. -- Andrea Adelson
College Football Playoff implications
LSU made a case to be No. 1 ahead of Ohio State on Tuesday, while Alabama's playoff hopes took a serious nosedive. Though the Crimson Tide are likely to still be the committee's highest-ranked one-loss team, they're now a long shot and in need of significant help to finish in the top four on Selection Day. Without winning its division, which now seems unlikely, Alabama doesn't have enough opportunities left on its schedule to convince the committee it's "unequivocally" one of the four best teams. -- Heather Dinich
Latest news, sights and scenes
Tagovailoa got the start at quarterback against the Tigers after missing the Tide's previous game because of an ankle injury.
Meanwhile, throughout the day, fans needed extra time to get into Bryant-Denny Stadium with President Donald Trump attending the game, and later gave him a big ovation:
Our GameDay crew and fans in Tuscaloosa, prepping for kickoff:
Corso has Tuscaloosa ready 👏 pic.twitter.com/cTYaqDPOMr— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 9, 2019
Pilot for our flight from CLT to #LSUvsBAMA just announced weather conditions, we'll push off in ten minutes & then added "Go Tigers!" When the crimson-wearing passengers started chanting "Lock him up!" he replied "If you don't like it, the door is still open." #GeauxTigers #RTR— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) November 8, 2019
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