TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Big brother is still boss.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts accounted for 227 of Alabama’s 299 yards, and despite a valiant effort from LSU’s defense, the top-ranked Crimson Tide beat the No. 19 Tigers 24-10 on Saturday night, extending its winning streak in the series to seven games.
Alabama (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) proved it’s still king over the Tigers (6-3, 3-2), getting just enough crucial plays from its dual-threat QB in front of an announced 101,821 at red-splashed Bryant-Denny Stadium. Nick Saban hasn’t lost to his old team since that 9-6 overtime affair here in November 2011 — a span of 2,192 days.
In this one, Bama led from the start — but the Tigers, mostly because of a suffocating defense, hung around until the bitter end despite a passing offense that missed several whopping opportunities.
LSU’s defensive front swarmed the Tide all night, harassing Alabama as it did in a 10-0 loss a season ago. The problem is the same old one, the issue that cost coach Les Miles his job — passing.
Quarterback Danny Etling, given time for the most part, missed more than a half-dozen open receivers on deep attempts, and wideouts dropped at least two critical passes to ruin a clear game plan from offensive coordinator Matt Canada: Throw it long.
"We knew we could beat these guys," receiver Russell Gage said. "I’m not going to sit here and praise them. They’re a good football team, but we hit those deep balls and make those plays, we could beat these guys."
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Hurts, meanwhile, passed for 183 yards and ran for another 44, accounting for 76 percent of the Tide's offense, and Bama punter JK Scott pinned the Tigers inside their 15-yard line four times.
Despite all that, LSU outgained Alabama 306-299, but the offense couldn’t make the plays in the air when it counted, costing coach Orgeron’s team a chance to beat its SEC Western Division sibling.
LSU sophomore linebacker Devin White referred to the Tide as the “big, older brother” earlier this week.
“When you get old enough and you get big enough, you can beat your older brother up,” White said Monday. “I feel like now is the time for us to beat them up and beat them on the field.”
Maybe next year.
"Our guys busted their tails on the game plan," Orgeron said afterward. "Didn't make the plays when we needed to."
The Tigers, as 21-point underdogs, put up a fight but couldn’t handle the class of SEC on the road. Alabama claimed its 30th consecutive regular-season victory and snapped LSU’s three-game winning streak.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Maybe it was fear, the fear that coast-to-coast predictions of doom and defeat would come true for LSU against No. 1-ranked…
Bama has battered LSU by a combined 49 points in three games since 2013, but this one felt different than those first two. The Tigers out-rushed Bama (150-116), converted nine third downs, controlled the time of possession (34 minutes to 26), had four sacks and pressured Hurts at least four more times.
The 116 yards rushing is the lowest for the Tide all year. Starting tailback Damien Harris was kept to 3.7 yards per carry, half of his season average, as LSU almost exclusively remained in its base 3-4 defense, loading the box on Bama — defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s game plan from the start.
"We played good in the trenches, as far as the running game," nose tackle Greg Gilmore said.
The term "moral victory" was tossed about during postgame interviews outside the LSU locker room. Many players shot it down. Orgeron did, too.
"We came here to beat Alabama," he said. "We're coming. We're coming, and we ain't backing down."
The Tigers moved the ball in the first half and even out-gained the Tide despite the halftime score, 14-3 Bama, and the competition (the Tide was ranked No. 1 in three of the four major defensive categories).
Stats aside, Saban’s group jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Alabama notched the scoreboard with a 90-yard march, led by Hurts completions of 47 and 15 yards, and then the Tide turned an Etling interception into a 37-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter.
Hurts marched the Tide down late in the third quarter, completing passes of 31 and 22 yards to receiver Calvin Ridley and then scoring on a 3-yard run to make it 21-3.
"We could not cover their receivers man-to-man like usual," Orgeron said.
The Tigers came out passing in this one. Etling threw 16 passes in the first 19 minutes, but the senior missed on about six passes of 25 yards or longer throughout the night, including four to Chark, mostly wide open for much of the night.
Etling finished 12-of-26 passing for 137 yards, and running back Derrius Guice had a tough 71 yards on 19 carries.
"Just missed timing. Missed judging and things like that," Etling explained the misses afterward.
Chark and Dee Anderson both dropped passes, and Etling threw into coverage in an intended pass for Guice that was picked off — a "critical" mistake, Orgeron said.
A Darrel Williams 54-yard run to the Bama 1 kept the Tigers around late in the third. Williams took a direct snap in a wildcat formation on that scamper, and LSU eventually scored to close the gap to 21-10.
The Tigers got no closer.
"I believe in moral victories to a certain extent," outside linebacker Corey Thompson said, "but at the end of the day, we have to win. We did a lot of things well. We have a lot to be proud of."
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was unlike any offensive game plan LSU ran against Alabama in recent memory.