No. 10 LSU knocked off No. 6 Alabama, 32-31, in an overtime thriller at Tiger Stadium that saw Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels complete a star-making performance in the extra period. Trailing by a touchdown, Daniels ran for the end zone on his first play in OT, leaving LSU coach Brian Kelly to decide on a do-or-die 2-point conversion that Daniels completed to tight end Mason Taylor on a flare route, ending the game and handling the Crimson Tide their second loss of the season.
It was an uneven, sloppy game for most of the night, but everything turned in the fourth quarter with both teams trading the lead before a 45-yard field goal from Alabama kicker Will Reichard barely cleared the uprights to tie the game and effectively force overtime with 21 seconds left.
Alabama struck first after a third-down pass interference gave the tide renewed life. Running back Roydell Williams scored from 1 yard out to make it a 31-24 game. This gave Bama 17 of 24 points down the stretch as it battled from a 17-15 deficit with 7 minutes left in regulation. That was before Daniels and LSU had a bit of magic left in their pockets with Kelly deciding to let it all ride on the 2-point conversion.
Daniels was excellent for the Tigers finishing with three total touchdowns, 182 yards passing and team-highs of 95 yards rushing on 18 carries.
Though Alabama QB Bryce Young had some bright spots, including a stellar 41-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Corey Brooks late in the fourth quarter that gave the tide a late lead, he was inconsistent throughout. A swarming LSU defend held him to 25 of 51 passing for 328 yards with that touchdown toss and an interception he threw in the end zone early in the game.
In other words, Young made his fair share of plays, but Daniels and LSU simply made more.
The victory puts LSU in the driver’s seat of the SEC West as it now holds a tiebreaker over both Alabama and Ole Miss with all three teams having one loss in league play. While the defeat does not entirely eliminate Bama entirely from the SEC race, it makes a College Football Playoff an unlikelihood for a program that has participated in seven of the eight events to date.
Let’s take a look at some more takeaways from LSU’s stunning upset of Alabama in Death Valley.
Tide are entirely too dependent on Young
The reigning Heisman winner can only do so much. As Alabama has entered the meat of its SEC schedule, it’s proven clearly not enough for the Tide to put their entire offensive game plan on his shoulders. After losing a bevy of talented playmakers to the NFL Draft over the last couple seasons, Bama has struggled to replace them with similarly dominant players in the passing game.
The tide simply do not have enough players that can stretch the field and pick up chunk plays. Out of Alabama’s top four pass catchers on Saturday, only Brooks (97 yards) is a wide receiver. The next wideout, Jermaine Burton, was fifth with two grabs for 19 yards. Bama is asking his running backs and tight ends to do far too much, and while RB Jahmyr Gibbs took 23 combined touches for 163 yards, that’s not enough to compete offensively at the level to which the tide are accustomed.
Bama isn’t the same team on the road
This loss probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Sure, Alabama was a 13-point favorite, but anybody who has paid attention to how the tide have performed on the road all season knew it might not be so easy. There was the 20-19 win over Texas in which Young had to lead a late comeback despite the Longhorns losing starting QB Quinn Ewers in the first half of the game. Then there was the game in which Bama couldn’t finish its comeback. It fell behind Tennessee 28-7, and though it made a run and took a lead, it couldn’t hold on in a 52-49 loss.
There was the 23-point win over Arkansas, but the Razorbacks just lost at home to Liberty on Saturday, so I’m not sure we should qualify that as a difficult road game this season. It’s certainly not harder to win in Fayetteville, Arkansas, than it is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at night. It’s enough to make you wonder what might happen next week when Alabama is on the road again against Ole Miss.
Daniels is a difference maker
Daniels arrived at Arizona State in 2019 with pressure the size of the Grand Canyon. He was billed as the most polished quarterback in his class and earned the starting job as a true freshman. After a strong campaign, he regressed to a point that he was expendable and had to fight and claw to win his job at LSU. He wasn’t ready — at least not right away.
Over the last month, though, he has proven exactly why he had that kind of hype. He has thrown 14 touchdowns and tossed only one interception this year with seven touchdown runs over the last three games. He had the heads of Alabama defenders spinning due in part to deceptive speed that he displayed when LSU needed it most: the first play of the bottom half of overtime to set up the game-winning 2-point conversion.
He was the best quarterback in Death Valley on Saturday. The way Daniels’ season is going, the best might be yet to come.
Brian Kelly proved he’s the man for the job
LSU’s game-tying extra point attempt vs. Florida State in Week 1 was blocked, and all eyes immediately went to Kelly. He wasn’t prepared. His team was undisciplined. He wasn’t cut out for the SEC.
He changed that narrative into a hurry.
Kelly has developed this offense into a force and kept this team together through some difficult times. Daniels was a mess in that opener and didn’t get any help from his offensive line or his side receiving corps — including supposed superstar Kayshon Boutte. Instead, he developed a more versatile wide receiving corps with Malik Nabers, Jaray Jenkins and Mason Taylor to give Boutte some help as the offense continued to develop. That coincided with the development of Daniels as a legit dual-threat who is incredibly difficult to prepare for. This LSU team has confidence on the ground and through the air, but Kelly fixed the special teams as well. That made a tone of difference on Saturday.
Damian Ramos nailed his only field goal attempt on Saturday, Noah Cain averaged 21 yards on kickoff returns and Jay Bramblett pinned Alabama inside the 20-yard line on three of his six attempts. It was a position game, and LSU came out with the advantage. That is something that seemed impossible a month ago.
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