KJ Malone

KJ Malone on crutches a week after his injury in October. 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — LSU got back its starting inside linebacker for Saturday’s game at Alabama.

Senior Donnie Alexander returned for the Tigers after missing the win at Ole Miss two weeks ago. Alexander’s injury issue was not disclosed; he dressed out in Oxford, Mississippi, but never saw the field.

Alexander was one of several defensive players to return for the Tigers, including reserves Ed Alexander at nose tackle and Michael Divinity at outside linebacker. But LSU was still missing left tackle KJ Malone.

True freshmen Saahdiq Charles and Ed Ingram started at left tackle and right guard, respectively, for a third consecutive game. Malone did not travel with the team while still recovering from a left knee injury he suffered at Florida. His status remains in doubt.

Malone was the only significant player not to travel. Alexander and Divinity did not make the trip to Ole Miss for undisclosed reasons. They did not appear to suffer any injury.

Going bowling

Representatives from four bowls were in attendance Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium: the Sugar, Peach, Citrus and TaxSlayer.

The Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, is serving as a College Football Playoff semifinal this year for the second time. If the season ended today based off the initial CFP rankings, No. 1 Georgia would play No. 4 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, while No. 2 Alabama would meet No. 3 Notre Dame in the Rose, also on New Year’s Day. The No. 1-ranked team gets to play in the bowl closest to home, setting the two semifinal matchups.

The Peach Bowl, also Jan. 1, is in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Atlanta will also host the CFP National Championship Game on Jan. 8. The Peach will bring together two teams selected by the CFP committee. The Citrus Bowl, where LSU beat Louisville 29-9 last season, is Jan. 1 in Orlando, Florida. The Citrus is the SEC’s top bowl tie in after the CFP bowls, squaring off with a team from the ACC, Big Ten or Notre Dame.

The TaxSlayer Bowl is Dec. 30 in Jacksonville, Florida. That bowl also features an SEC matchup against the ACC, Big Ten or Notre Dame. One of the SEC’s “group of six” bowls, the Taxslayer receives a team assigned by the conference office on Dec. 3.

Scouts abound

Scouts from at least 10 NFL teams were present in Alabama’s press box on Saturday night.

The tangle between the Tide and the Tigers often includes more than a dozen future NFL players. Representatives from the following teams watched Saturday’s game in Bryant-Denny Stadium: the Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens.

An extra hand

Alabama got a hand Saturday night against the Tigers.

Starting defensive end Da’Shawn Hand played in his first game in more than a month. The 288-pound senior sprained an MCL in his knee against Ole Miss on Sept. 30 and missed the next three games before his return Saturday.

First-quarter dominance

In its first nine games, Alabama has outscored its opponents by a wide 114-9 margin in the first quarter after getting a touchdown against LSU with 6:08 to play in the opening period.

The only teams that have scored on the Crimson Tide in the first period are Fresno State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M — with one field goal each.

Lagniappe

Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise watched the game from the sidelines. Scalise was critically wounded in a shooting in June during a Congressional baseball practice session in Virginia. ... Alabama issued about 650 media credentials for Saturday’s game, including the crew televising the game for CBS. … LSU returns home next week for an 11 a.m. game with Arkansas. It will be the earliest kickoff in Tiger Stadium since an 11 a.m. game in 2011 against Kentucky. ... LSU captains were running backs Darrel Williams and Derrius Guice, receiver DJ Chark, defensive lineman Christian LaCouture, defensive end Rashard Lawrence and linebacker Devin White. ... Going into the game, Alabama trailed for only 2 minutes, 26 seconds of its first eight games. … Bama tight end Irv Smith Jr., who had a 4-yard reception for the Tide’s first touchdown Saturday night, is the son of the former New Orleans Saints tight end. Irv Smith Sr. was a first-round draft pick of the Saints in 1993 and the younger Smith, a sophomore, is a Brother Martin graduate.


Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.