BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Alabama may be going nowhere, but the
Crimson Tide made the road a little more difficult for LSU.
Santonio Beard ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns as Alabama (ineligible for ESPN/USA Today poll, No. 10 AP) beat the Tigers 31-0 Saturday night. LSU was ranked No. 12 by ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 by AP.
"We played well in some tough situations,'' Alabama coach Dennis Frachione said. "This was a tough environment, but we've played well on the road all season long.''
In a game featuring two of the nation's top defenses, Alabama's ground game proved to be the difference. The Crimson Tide ran for 300 yards and held the ball for 34 minutes, 37 seconds. LSU rushed for only 65 yards.
"We could not stop the run,'' LSU coach Nick Saban said. "And we could not play with any consistency on offense.''
The Tigers were shut out for the first time since Alabama beat them 26-0 in 1996. It was LSU's most lopsided shutout loss since a 35-0 defeat to Oklahoma in the 1950 Sugar Bowl.
Alabama (9-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) is banned from bowl
participation and therefore can't win the SEC West Division. But
the Tide, which has now won five straight games, put pressure on
LSU to return to the conference championship game. The Tigers must
win both of their remaining games to be sure of making the game.
"This was a big win for us,'' Alabama quarterback Tyler Watts said. "We wanted to have the best record in the SEC, and we knew we had to go through LSU in order to do that.''
LSU (7-3, 4-2) had won two straight against Alabama, but the Tigers still have never won three straight against the Tide.
The Tigers had the No. 1 overall defense in the nation, allowing 246.4 yards a game. Alabama was No. 3, giving up 249.1.
The game was scoreless until late in the second quarter, when Beard capped a 64-yard drive with a 6-yard TD run. The extra-point kick went wide right, and Alabama led 6-0 with 3:52 left in the half.
The Tide's running game kicked in on their last drive of the half. Alabama went 96 yards on nine plays -- all runs. Watts ran the last 2 yards for the score with 12 seconds left. Tiarandos Luke ran for the 2-point conversion for a 14-0 halftime lead.
Beard opened the fourth quarter with a 6-yard touchdown run that
stretched the lead to 21-0. Kyle Robinson's 46-yard field goal four
minutes later made it 24-0 Alabama. Watts hit Zach Fletcher with a
22-yard touchdown pass to close out the scoring.
Shaud Williams had 131 yards rushing for Alabama. Watts completed 11 of 20 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once.
Marcus Randall was 6-of-17 for 39 yards. He was also LSU's leading rusher with 54 yards.
LSU compounded its offensive struggles by getting penalized 10 times for 77 yards. The Tigers had 196 yards of total offense and had a 44-yard field goal blocked. It's the second straight week LSU has had a field goal blocked, and the fifth time this year.
LSU's biggest play was a fake punt in the third quarter that put the Tigers on Alabama's 28-yard line. Randall fumbled the ball away on the next play, however.
Late in the first half, Alabama starting nose tackle Kenny King
suffered a neck or back injury after assisting a tackle of Randall
and was taken off the field on a cart. Alabama officials refused to
comment on King's injury, saying the coach did not release injuries
unless they were season-ending.