BATON ROUGE, La. – They sang “Dixieland Delight” in Death Valley. Alabama’s dreams lived through the night.
The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide (9-0, 6-0 SEC) suffocated No. 3 LSU (7-2, 4-2) in a 29-0 victory at Tiger Stadium. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa tucked the ball away for a 44-yard run as a signature highlight in the third quarter. Then the Alabama defense did the rest.
“It says a lot about their competitive character,” coach Nick Saban said. “I think they wanted to make a statement all week long in terms of what kind of team we really had. They had the opportunity to do it against a very good team, No. 3 in the country, probably in the toughest environment to play in. What better opportunity is there to make a statement than the circumstance that we were in?”
It was the first time Alabama had shut out LSU in back-to-back meetings in Baton Rouge in the history of the series. LSU hasn’t scored on the Alabama defense in Baton Rouge since late in their 2014 meeting.
Alabama also clinched the SEC West with the win, though the head coach said he didn’t know it. He hadn’t checked the conference standings before the game.
“Is that true? Because I didn’t know that,” Saban said. “I thought we had to win one more game, but I guess you guys know more about it than I do.”
Alabama will face Georgia in Atlanta as a rematch of last year’s national championship game. The Bulldogs clinched the East earlier in the day.
The defense was spearheaded by sophomore defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who led the team with 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. LSU running backs gained just 19 rushing yards on 13 attempts. Combined with their yardage lost on sacks, LSU finished with 12 total rushing yards.
Alabama’s pyrotechnic offense puddled through the early goings as the capacity crowd of 102,321 induced some errors on the opening drive. It recovered in time to build a 16-0 halftime lead behind two passing touchdowns from Tagovailoa. Alabama missed a pair of PATs on the night, including one on a botched hold. Tagovailoa’s rushing touchdown made it a three-score game and running back Damien Harris punched in a one-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“People have still been doubting us as a team the past couple of weeks,” Harris said. “That’s fine, we don’t worry about what people on the outside world say. But at the end of the day, we wanted to come out and prove to ourselves that we’re for real.”
Sophomore wide receiver Henry Ruggs III left the game with a leg injury, but X-rays didn’t show any significant damage. It’s not believed to be serious. Sophomore running back Najee Harris left with an ankle injury that wasn’t believed to be severe.
LSU punted on its first nine possessions, going three-and-out on five of those drives. Alabama outgained LSU 576-196. The shutout was preserved when the Tigers missed a 33-yard field goal in the fourth quarter trailing 22-0. Linebacker Mack Wilson picked off Tiger quarterback Joe Burrow on his final pass of the night.
The victory was Alabama’s eighth in a row in the rivalry.
Alabama ran the ball nine straight times in the fourth quarter. LSU fans climbed out of the stadium as the Alabama fans sang into the night.
“That’s really fun, just to see the opposing team’s crowd just leave knowing that they can’t win, knowing that they can’t come back,” linebacker Dylan Moses said.
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.