LSU offense looks out of rhythm against Alabama in hostile Bryant-Denny Stadium _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette drops a pass as Alabama defensive back Geno Smith closes in during the first half Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The road to the College Football Playoff has rarely required LSU to leave home. Saturday night was one of those rare occasions.

The No. 4 Tigers’ 30-16 loss at No. 7 Alabama was their first away game in 43 days and only their third contest away from home this season. LSU’s last road trip was Sept. 26 against Syracuse, though an Oct. 10 game at South Carolina was relocated to Baton Rouge following heavy rains and flooding in the the Gamecocks’ home state.

Leading up to the game, the Tigers (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) weren’t concerned about playing in a hostile environment for the first time in six weeks. LSU coach Les Miles even said his team was “ready for the road.”

But LSU appeared rattled by the raucous crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Its offense was out of sync and gained only 38 yards in the opening period while the Tide (8-1, 5-1) built a 10-point lead.

The Tigers’ worst sequence came on their second possession. Backed up against the student section and its own end zone, LSU committed back-to-back delay-of-game penalties as the deafening crowd impaired sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris’ communication with the rest of the offense.

The atmosphere of the Tigers’ previous two road games didn’t measure up to the scene in Tuscaloosa.

LSU opened the season on the road, grinding out a 21-19 win in front of 62,531 cowbell-ringing Mississippi State fans. Two weeks later, only 43,101 people were on hand in the Carrier Dome for the Tigers’ 10-point win against Syracuse.

Moore exits game

LSU got JD Moore back — only for a little while.

The sophomore fullback did not start against the Tide but played for the first time since injuring his knee against South Carolina. Moore, however, appeared to re-injure his knee on a play midway through the second quarter.

He walked off the field without assistance or a limp.

Healthy Hawthorne

Jim Hawthorne is doing just fine.

LSU’s play-by-play radio announcer, who missed the Alabama game after undergoing a medical procedure last Friday, called into the team’s pregame radio show about two hours before kickoff.

Though his streak of 387 straight games called was broken, Hawthorne said he’s “doing great” following the procedure. He thanked fans for their support and well-wishes, but the longtime broadcaster had something else to be thankful about.

“I’m getting to do something I haven’t been able to do in 35 years — sit back and just watch the game,” Hawthorne said. “As much as I’d love to be here, I’m going to enjoy sitting and watching the Tigers play.”

Hawthorne said he’s “working hard” to call the LSU-Arkansas game next weekend in Tiger Stadium. It’s unclear when or if he’ll return to the radio booth this football season, which will be the final one of his career before he retires following the 2015-16 basketball season.


LSU now has a 25-49-5 all-time series record against Alabama. ... This season’s showdown marked the ninth straight year CBS aired the LSU-Alabama game, and it’s the fifth meeting in a row the network televised in primetime. ... LSU’s captains were Leonard Fournette, junior center Ethan Pocic, right tackle Vadal Alexander, safety Jamal Adams and linebackers Duke Riley, Kendell Beckwith and Deion Jones. ... Representatives from several bowl games were present in Tuscaloosa: Sugar (CFP bowl), Orange (CFP semifinal), Peach (CFP bowl), TaxSlayer, Citrus and Music City. The Maxwell Football Club, which hands out a national player of the year award at the end of every season, was also at the game. … Former Alabama and NFL quarterback Ken Stabler, who died June 8, was honored before the game. He finished his professional career with the New Orleans Saints from 1982-84.