After losing to Alabama at home (again) LSU won’t be competing for anything major this season, losing 13-20 in overtime as Anthony Jennings put on an appalling performance, while Blake Sims got a grip of himself when it mattered the most, leading the Crimson Tide to a win that keeps all their hopes of winning the division, the conference and making the playoffs intact.
Blake Sims completed just 20-of-45 passes for 209 yards, but he did throw two touchdown passes. He led Alabama 55 yards to close out regulation with a game-tying field goal by Adam Griffith from 27 yards, and in overtime completed the work by finding DeAndrew White for a six-yard, game winning touchdown. He threw for 80 yards on those two drives after completing passes for just 129 earlier in the game. Not a good game from him, but it’s usually about when he stepped up, and the mistakes he didn’t make.
Anthony Jennings continues the tradition of LSU quarterbacks doing terribly in their games against Alabama. The offensive system Les Miles puts on the field isn’t about big gains in the air. It’s a tailback university with guys pounding the middle time after time. The Tigers tried attacking the middle of the defense all night long, attempting 41 runs through the tackles. They ended up gaining only 2.9 yards per carry and only 0.9 yards after contact.
Jennings himself finished the game with four incompletions on LSU’s turn in overtime. He was only 8-of-26 for 76 yards in this game, averaging 2.9 yards per attempt. LSU are now 4-18-1 at home against Alabama since 1970. With a quarterback playing so badly and going to the most predictable approach possible, something that happens quite often to Les Miles when he faces Nick Saban, it’s probably going to end in tears.
Both teams struggled moving the ball, finishing with a combined 574 yards. It was another big game for Amari Cooper, catching eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Alabama fought their way from behind twice in this game, one in which every score seemed to count quite a lot. Sims had the lowest completion percentage by an Alabama quarterback in an SEC game over the last five seasons, but he came up with the good when it mattered.
What does this mean for Alabama in the big picture? The SEC West just got clearer. Mississippi State are still in the lead, undefeated. But they have to play at Alabama and Ole Miss (with Vanderbilt in between) on the remaining schedule. Alabama, with one loss, finding themselves ahead of Auburn and Ole Miss, have three home games: Mississippi State, an FCS team and the grand finale against Auburn. They’re behind, but they might be in the best situation to win the division.
That, obvioulsy, isn’t the case for LSU, losing three conference games for the second time in a row, something that hasn’t happened to them since the 2008-2009 seasons. They can still finish with the 10-win mark, but it’s not going to be about a division title, a conference championship game and certainly not the playoffs. With two road games in Arkansas and Texas A&M left to play, this might turn out to be their worst SEC season in six years, as it seems that losing to the Crimson Tide in the championship game almost three years ago put the program in the wrong kind of spiral.