No. 1-ranked Alabama visited third-ranked LSU in Death Valley on Saturday for a much-anticipated showdown. Here are four key questions that were answered:
1. Can LSU’s defense contain Alabama?
Sort of, at least for a while. Alabama’s offense got going in fits and starts, but never hit the kind of gear that had led to the Crimson Tide rolling up points to the tune of 54 points per game, tops in the nation, coming into the game. LSU was giving up just 15.1 points on average, seventh best in nationally, and did what it could to keep UA from running away with it
2. What impact will the crowd have?
Night games in Baton Rouge have always been rowdy and it was no different for this matchup of teams ranked in the top five. The LSU faithful stayed engaged through most of the first half, although the fervor began to fade the closer it got to intermission. Once Alabama expanded its advantage to 22-0 in the third period, the decibels faded considerably.
3. Will Tua Tagovailoa finally take a fourth-quarter snap?
Alabama’s sophomore quarterback hadn’t played in the final period of a game all season before Saturday night. He finally did against LSU. Tagovailoa trotted out for UA’s first series of the final period with 10:45 to go in the game. The game was well in hand, but the lead wasn’t, at least theoretically, insurmountable, and he even threw the ball rather than just hand it off to run clock.
4. Does LSU have the firepower to keep up?
The Tigers actually came in averaging better than 30 points per game – not in the same territory as Alabama’s 50-points-a-game offensive machine, but more than respectable. But facing the Crimson Tide’s ever-improving defense, it was overmatched. LSU clearly couldn’t make it a shootout, since the Tigers couldn’t even score.