Tua much Tagovailoa
BATON ROUGE — No, this wasn’t an SEC conspiracy against LSU.
Just total domination by Alabama.
No black helicopters hovering over Tiger Stadium.
Just one of the best players LSU head coach Ed Orgeron has ever seen dropping strike after strike in LSU’s secondary.
No rushing the field and risking another fine from the conference.
Just a daylong build-up that ended with lot of long faces in a Tiger Stadium that was boiling over in advance.
“The table was set,” Orgeron said. “Fans were great. Energy was there.”
But the juiced-up fans were as helpless as the Tigers while Heisman Trophy-favorite quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led a balanced Alabama attack that rang up 576 yards on the Tigers as the Crimson Tide rolled to a 29-0 Southeastern Conference victory Saturday night.
“They just dominated us,” Orgeron said.
Just stark reality.
“We’re No. 3,” Orgeron said of the College Football Playoff rankings. “They’re ranked No. 1 — and we’re nowhere close to them.”
Not this night, at least, as the Tigers lost their eighth consecutive game to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.
“This was the worst we’ve played against them,” Orgeron said. “They dominated us the whole night.”
LSU (7-2, 4-2, No. 3 CFP) will try to keep a surprising season going after Alabama did exactly what Saban wanted.
“We really wanted to make a statement in this game,” Saban said. “A lot of people talked about our schedule. We have a lot of respect for LSU. We wanted to control the line of scrimmage — I think we did that.”
Orgeron surely did.
Never mind that six Tide receivers caught passes from Tagovailoa, who completed 25 of 42 for 295 yards.
Or that the Tide rushed for 281 yards, which included 107 by Damien Harris and a 44-yard touchdown sprint by Tagovailoa that put the exclamation point on it.
“He made some tremendous plays,” Orgeron said of Tagovailoa “Give him credit. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen. Guys covered … he still made plays.
“We had some pressure on him, he avoided the rush really well. On the (touchdown) run, we had every gap filled, one guy got out of his gap.”
And the defense was the least of the Tigers’ problems while gaining 196 yards and never threatening the scoreboard until chances went awry in the fourth quarter.
“We were fighting our tails off (on defense),” Orgeron said. “We just couldn’t get any help from our offense. We couldn’t get anything going.”
The Tigers had 12 yards rushing while quarterback Joe Burrow was under constant siege, somehow throwing for 184 yards while being sacked five times.
“Same old thing — Alabama overpowered us,” Orgeron said.
“We got beat at the line of scrimmage. We couldn’t block their defensive line — 291 yards rushing for them, 12 for us —that’s not a very good night.
“I just think they overpowered us and there was nothing we could do about it. I don’t think it was scheme. They just overpowered us.
“Our offensive line was getting beat one-on-one. We had mad protection, those guys were still beating us. They stunned us. We tried everything we possibly could — four wideouts, max protection, we just got beat.”
LSU had to take solace with a trio of moral victories — the first team this season to keep Bama (9-0, 6-0 SEC, No. 1 CFP) from scoring a touchdown on its game-opening possession, the first to intercept Tagovailoa and the first to make Tagovailoa take a snap in the fourth quarter.
Bama’s 29 points was also a season-low by 10 points for the Tide offensive machine, but it might as well have been 29,000.
The thoroughness of the win surprised even the hard-to-please Saban.
“I did not,” he said when asked if he thought the Tide could dominate. “They moved the ball against everybody they played. I mean, Georgia’s got a good defense. Mississippi State has a good defense. They had a good plan at the beginning. We some adjustments and our players did a good job of adapting.”
LSU’s only two scoring chances, both in the fourth quarter, ended with a missed field goal by normally dead-eye Cole Taylor and LSU’s only turnover when Burrow was intercepted in the end zone.
It was the Tigers’ worst home loss since Alabama beat LSU — with Saban as the Tigers’ coach — 31-0 in 2002.
It was also the second consecutive trip to Tiger Stadium where the Tide the Tigers scoreless.
“They dominated us the whole night,” Orgeron said. “Last year we played very well. We had some shots. But this year — no way. They whooped us.
“But I do believe we have a good football team. We’re just nowhere near Alabama.”
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa accounted for three touchdowns in Alabama’s victory against LSU on Saturday night in Baton Rouge.