Whew! Alabama Escapes Valiant Upset Bid by 28-Point Underdog LSU To Win, 20-14

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LSU coach Ed Orgeron ran off the Bryant-Denny Stadium field in triumph, holding up two “L” hand signs for LSU with index fingers and thumbs high, even though his Tigers lost to No. 2 Alabama, 20-14, in front of 100,077 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Saturday night.

It was that kind of game and that kind of near upset.

The Tigers, missing nine injured players on defense who had started games, and their lame duck coach were 28-point underdogs. But they had a chance for the upset of the year – or several years.

LSU found itself on Alabama’s 30-yard line with five seconds to play, but quarterback Max Johnson’s Hail Mary pass was batted away in the end zone as time expired. LSU was called for a facemask penalty behind the line anyway, which Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC) declined, and the game ended.

The Tigers (4-5, 2-4 SEC) also had the ball on Alabama’s 42-yard line with 3:25 to play and down 20-14 after a sack and strip by LSU safety Cam Lewis of quarterback Bryce Young. Defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy recovered the fumble. But LSU was unable to move more than one yard on the next three plays, went for it on fourth down for the seventh time, it failed, and Alabama took over.

And LSU drove 74 yards in 10 plays to a first down at the Alabama 8-yard line with 8:05 to play in the game and down 20-14 after a 37-yard burst up the middle on fourth-and-one by tailback Tyrion Davis-Price. After a gain of a yard by price, Johnson threw incomplete. He apparently fumbled on the next play, but LSU got a call as it was ruled an incomplete pass on review. Replays showed that it could have been called a fumble.

The Tigers got another play on fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line, but Johnson threw incomplete to wide receiver Trey Palmer in the end zone after a heavy rush by linebacker Will Anderson Jr.

Had Orgeron gone for the field goal instead for a 20-17 score with 6:46 to play, he conceivaby could have taken a 23-20 lead with subsequent possessions in Bama territory.

“We going for it,” Orgeron said defiantly after the game. “When we walked into the stadium, we were going for it.”

LSU converted five of seven fourth downs, including a fake punt in the first quarter in its touchdown drive for a 7-0 lead.

“The whole time – we were going for the win,” Orgeron said.

“They played a really good game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Offensively, we didn’t move the ball at all.”

LSU’s defense of backups and first-time starters held Alabama to six net yards rushing on 26 carries – its lowest output since also netting six yards on 30 carries in a 9-0 loss to Penn State on Oct. 27, 1990.

The Tigers also limited the Tide to its lowest point output since the loss to Clemson, 44-16, in the national championship game on Jan. 7, 2019. It was Alabama’s lowest point total in a regular season game since falling to Auburn, 26-14, on Nov. 25, 2017.

Young completed 24 of 37 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns around four sacks and the fumble.

“I think they (the Tigers) responded well, but a win’s a win,” Saban said. “We ended up winning the game. The score’s the score. It only matters when it’s over, and it’s in our favor.”

LSU drew within 20-14 with 2:27 to go in the third quarter when Johnson threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jack Bech.

The Tigers opened the game on fire and took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. LSU’s score was set up by a fourth-and-four fake punt from the Tigers’ 48-yard line. Punter Avery Atkins took the snap as usual, but rushed to the line, then threw a jump pass to tight end Jack Mashburn for at 26-yard gain.

Alabama tied it 7-7 with 2:53 to go in the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Brian Robinson, who finished with a mere 18 yards on 13 carries. Young then hit wide receiver John Metchie III on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 48 seconds to go before halftime for a 14-7 lead. Alabama went up 20-7 early in the third quarter on a 58-yard bomb from Young to wide receiver Jameson Williams before Will Reichard missed the extra point.

Davis-Price led LSU with 104 yards on 23 carries. Johnson completed 16 of 32 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

“We came to play. We came to win,” Orgeron said.

“I was proud of the way the team fought,” said LSU linebacker Damone Clark, who had eight tackles and a sack. “People have been counting us out.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at www.acadianhouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.


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  1. Bama’s offensive line is pretty bad. Young has bailed them out all year with his mobility. Plus, they don’t run block well. After a lot of preseason hype about how great their defense will be and once their offense catches up they will be a powerhouse, not even close. Not one of their better teams. Now Georgia is a powerhouse. No one close.

  2. I would say if LSU had a better QB they would’ve beat bama last night but actually if they just had a QB capable of somewhat using at least one of his arms they would’ve won. My god Max Johnson is 100% complete pure garbage.

    • I thought compared to how they’ve played the rest of the season prior they played great. This was a ballgame no one saw coming. I think johnson is clearly their guy, he’s got all the tools you want. If you remember Burrow, it didn’t click with him until he was a junior. Johnson is just a sophomore and having a really good season. Johnson was getting consistently pressured by Bama throughout and that’s tough on any QB. Not much to work with there last night. They had no business being in this game, so I’d take it as a huge positive. Hang in there. They don’t have all the pieces yet but I think it’s coming.

  3. Going into this game I really expected Bama to be up very huge by halftime and resting starters the 2nd half, and that’s why this one stings so much. The longer this game went and the more obvious it became LSU actually had a chance it was disheartening watching Johnson make mistake after mistake. LSU was literally handicapped at QB with Johnson. And I’m not sure his flaws are fixable or coachable. He’s inaccurate, he completely locks onto to one WR and he has absolutely no pocket awareness at all.

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