No. 1 Alabama turned Tiger Stadium into the world’s largest woodshed Saturday night.
And there was little LSU’s struggling offense — or anyone else, for that matter — could do about it, even in front of 102,321 energized fans, most of whom expected the home team to provide Alabama with its first real test of the season.
But as it has all year, the Crimson Tide passed with flying colors on both sides of the line of scrimmage — especially on defense.
Alabama, which ranked 16th in the nation in total defense going into the game, stuffed No. 4 LSU at every turn — especially when it came to the Tigers’ running game — in a methodical 29-0 victory.
LSU, which ranked sixth in the Southeastern Conference with 190.6 rushing yards per game, netted a scant 0.5 yards per carry and finished with 12 yards on 25 attempts. The Tigers finished with 196 yards from scrimmage, a season low.
It was LSU’s worst rushing output since the Tigers were held to minus-7 yards by Florida in a 31-10 setback against the Gators on Oct. 9, 1999.
“I give them credit … they are a good team,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “We got beat at the line of scrimmage.
“We couldn’t block their defensive line; 281 rushing yards for Alabama, 12 rushing yards for us. That’s not a very good night.”
Tigers center Lloyd Cushenberry said it was downright embarrassing.
“It was very frustrating. We just didn’t execute against a good team,” he said. “It was embarrassing the way we played. It was (not winning) one-on-ones ,and that’s on us as an O-line. We’ll do it next week; I promise.”
It was just another in a string of anemic performances against Alabama, which clinched the SEC West title and a spot in the league’s title game against East champion Georgia on Dec. 1.
LSU has now been held to 17 or fewer points in nine consecutive outings against Alabama, resulting in an eight-game winning streak for the Crimson Tide in the series.
Saturday night’s one-sided contest was oddly reminiscent of the 2011 BCS title game, when LSU managed just 92 yards from scrimmage and crossed midfield only once against Alabama in a 21-0 defeat at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
In this one, Alabama’s offensive and defensive lines flexed their muscles.
While the Tide’s offense finished with 281 rushing yards, the defensive line gave LSU fits all night.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire led LSU with 14 yards on six attempts and leading rusher Nick Brossette was limited to 5 yards on seven carries.
“They didn’t do anything special,” Cushenberry said of Alabama’s defensive front. “We knew what they were going to do, so that’s on us.”
In this one, LSU netted just 67 yards on 29 plays in the first half as Alabama got off to a 16-0 lead.
At that point, Bama had piled up 325 yards on 47 plays and had a large edge in time of possession with 19 minutes, 29 seconds to LSU’s 10:31.
LSU’s offensive issues continued well into the second half as the Tigers managed 18 yards on their first 12 plays, giving them 85 yards on 41 snaps as the final seconds ticked off the clock in the third quarter.
In those first 41 plays, LSU had only two plays of 10 yards or more — passes of 18 and 16 yards from Joe Burrow, who was under constant pressure all night, to Justin Jefferson.
“They were really, really good,” said Burrow, who threw one interception and was sacked five times in going 18 of 35 for 184 yards. “They had a really good game plan and executed it to a ‘T.’ We just weren’t tough enough, physical enough, or ready enough to make the plays.”
Orgeron added: “Our offensive line was getting beat one-on-one. We had max protection, but they were still beating us. They stunned us. We tried everything we possibly could.”
Even LSU’s two deepest penetrations of the game, both in the fourth quarter, ended with misery at the Alabama 15 and 12.
The usually reliable Cole Tracy misfired on a 33-yard field-goal attempt, and Burrow was intercepted in the end zone by Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson with 3:35 to play.
“It was pretty embarrassing,” Cushenberry said. “But you have to move on. We’ll learn from it and get better.”