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College football: No. 1 Alabama hammers LSU; Tigers fall to No. 9 in AP Top 25

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Bill Franques
LSU Communications Sr. Associate

BATON ROUGE — Top-ranked Alabama clinched the Southeastern Confernece Western Division, defeating LSU on a deafening Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium, 29-0.

The Tide (9-0, 6-0 SEC) handled the raucous environment and a capacity crowd to hand LSU its second loss of the season.

LSU (7-2, 4-2) returns to action this Saturday when traveling to face Arkansas in Fayetteville. Kickoff will be at 6:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network, the league announced late Saturday night.

LSU dropped from No. 4 to No. 9 in the AP Top 25 and No. 10 in the Amway Coaches Poll. Alabama was a unanimous No. 1 in the AP poll. The Crimson Tide received all but one first-place vote in the coaches poll. The other one went to No. 2 Clemson.

Playing the first half without junior linebacker Devin White, LSU fell behind 16-0 at the break. The Tide added to its lead with touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters.

“We got beat at the line of scrimmage,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said. “We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to recruit better defensive linemen. I’ve got to recruit better offensive linemen. Same old thing. You’ve got to beat Alabama at the line of scrimmage.”

Orgeron said he liked the way the defense fought in the first half.

“They made some plays, but we stopped them in the red zone,” he said. “We were fighting our tails off. We just didn’t get no help from the offense. We couldn’t get nothing going. And you could feel it at the end. Our guys got discouraged a little bit.”

LSU’s offense struggled to maintain drives, managing 196 yards of total offense against Alabama’s 576.

“Just not a very good night,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said. “But we’ve got to move forward. We’re going to look at this on Tell The Truth Monday, get better and then on to Arkansas and finish strong. This team has a chance to have a very good season, go to a big bowl. That’s what we’re going to look forward to.”

Quarterback Joe Borrow finished 18-of-35 passing for 184 yards with an interception in the Alabama end zone. He was sacked five times. His top target was Justin Jefferson, who had six catches for 81 yards. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire added 38 receiving yards on two catches.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed 25-of-42 passes for 295 yards with two touchdowns and his first interception of the season. He had three rushes for 49 yards including a 44-yard touchdown run.

“Great player. He made some tremendous plays,” Orgeron said. “The guy is one of the best players I’ve seen. Give him credit.”

Alabama running back Damien Harris rushed 19 times for 107 yards with a touchdown, while Najee Harris added 83 yards on six carries.

For the first time this season, Alabama did not score a touchdown on its opening offensive possession. The Tide drove to the LSU 14 before the Tigers’ defense pushed Alabama back to the 34-yard line on the next three plays, forcing a punt.

Alabama, however, moved 78 yards in five plays on its next possession to take a 6-0 lead. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa connected with wide receiver Henry Ruggs on a 15-yard scoring pass, but the PAT attempt by placekicker Joseph Bulovas was missed.

The Tide increased the lead to 9-0 at the 6:59 mark of the second quarter when Bulovas hit a 23-yard field goal, capping a 15-play, 75-yard march.

Tagovailoa was intercepted for the first time this season with 3:27 left in the first half when safety Todd Harris picked off a pass intended for wide receiver Jerry Jeudy at the LSU five-yard line.

LSU, which entered the game with a nation’s-best 14 interceptions, has recorded a pick in 11 straight games dating back to last season.

Tagovailoa fired a 25-yard TD pass to tight end Irv Smith to culminate a two-play, 54-yard drive with 1:15 remaining in the first half, giving the Tide a 16-0 advantage.

Alabama extended the margin 22-0 at the 5:14 mark of the third quarter when Tagovailoa dashed 44 yards for a touchdown, completing a seven-play, 72-yard drive. LSU lineman Austin Deculus blocked Bulovas’ extra-point attempt after the TD run.

LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire returned the ensuing Alabama kickoff 57 yards to the Crimson Tide 40, but the Tigers could not record a first down and were forced to punt.

The Tigers drove deep into Alabama territory early in the fourth quarter, but placekicker Cole Tracy missed a 33-yard field goal with 10:45 remaining in the contest. It was just the third miss of the season for Tracy and his first miss from less than 53 yards.

After the missed field goal, Alabama increased its lead to 29-0 when the Tide moved 80 yards on eight plays, finishing the drive with a two-yard TD burst by running back Damien Harris.