Alabama 55, LSU 17: 3 things we learned as Crimson Tide sends message to Tigers

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

BATON ROUGE, La. — Twelve minutes erased the rhetoric of an entire year.

Alabama’s domination of the first quarter took LSU out of the game, and dominating the final three quarters led to a final score of 55-17.

Here are three things we learned in the Crimson Tide’s win over LSU.

Alabama sent a message to LSU

UA coach Nick Saban has generally been cordial with opponents his teams are overwhelming. Just two weeks ago against Kentucky, the Crimson Tide pulled most of its starting offense with five minutes left in the third quarter, up by 39 points.

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) runs for a big gain against LSU defensive end Neil Farrell Jr. (92) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

On Saturday, Mac Jones and the starting offense were on the field as the fourth quarter started while up 35 points.

Saban said early in the week he is not one to use revenge as a motivational tactic, but recognized his players would likely be motivated by last year’s loss to the Tigers and the antics that followed. UA’s personnel decisions on Saturday suggested it was interested in doing more than beating LSU.

Alabama has the best offensive line in the nation

LSU has several shortcomings, but defensive front play is not one of them. The Tigers entered the game fourth in the SEC in tackles for a loss, and two Tigers (BJ Ojulari and Andre Anthony) were in the top 10 in the SEC in sacks.

Yet, UA mauled LSU on the ground, clearing the way for three Najee Harris rushing touchdowns and nearly 150 yards in the first three quarters. It also gave Mac Jones more than enough time to pick LSU apart, often taking his time in the pocket to do so.

This offensive line — made up of Alex Leatherwood, Deonte Brown, Landon Dickerson, Emil Ekiyor Jr. and Evan Neal — will have to wait until the College Football Playoff to find an equal, if it is able to find one there.

DeVonta Smith cannot be contained 

DeVonta Smith is no stranger to 200-yard receiving games. He now has four of them, the most in the history of Alabama football.

Saturday’s exhibition of excellence was different. He reached the 200-yard threshold in the first half.

Smith exited with eight catches for 231 yards and three touchdowns, but only after he continued to drive home his case as the best wide receiver in the nation. The production may have been more impressive against a more capable opponent — LSU entered the game last in the SEC in yards per pass attempt allowed — but it was enough to garner attention.

It is certainly too little and too late, but nationally, months of Heisman Trophy chatter surrounding Mac Jones is beginning to transition to Smith.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson