Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers tires to avoid a sack during the second half while playing the Alabama Crimson Tide at Tiger Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alabama won the game 29-0. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(AP) Tua Tagovailoa threw two touchdown passes and ran 44 yards for a score in his toughest test this season, Alabama's defense stifled No. 4 LSU, and the top-ranked Crimson Tide remained unbeaten with a 29-0 victory Saturday night.
''We really wanted to make a statement in this game. A lot of people talk about our schedule,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said, alluding to the fact that the Crimson Tide had no victories over a team currently ranked in the top 20 coming into Death Valley. ''What better opportunity is there to make a statement than the circumstance we were in.''
Tagovailoa took the field wearing a brace on his right knee, threw his first interception of the season late in the first half and also played into the fourth quarter for the first time this season. None of those developments proved consequential. He was 25-of-42 passing for 295 yards and moved as well as he needed to, particularly when he sprinted up the middle of the field or his long TD run in the third quarter to give Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC, No. 1 CFP) a 22-0 lead.
Tagovailoa limped off the field after that play, went into the medical tent briefly and rode a stationary bike on the sideline, but returned for the next series.
''I'd seen the opening, I ran. I was just trying to get the first down,'' Tagovailoa said, confirming that he tweaked his right knee on the play. ''Once I passed the 30, though, I felt my leg and I was going off momentum after that.''
LSU (7-2, 4-2, No. 3 CFP) entered the game with a chance to take control of the SEC Western Division with a victory, but that began to look decreasingly realistic with every possession.
Alabama led 16-0 by halftime and forced punts on the Tigers' first nine possessions. LSU drove to the Alabama 15 on its 10th series early in the fourth quarter, only to miss a field goal with 10:45 to go.
''Alabama overpowered us,'' LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. ''When you max-protect and you're doing everything you can with protection and they're beating you, you've got to look at personnel. You've got to get better. I don't think it was scheme at all. ... There was nothing we could do about it.''
Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow completed 18 of 35 passes for 184 yards. He was sacked five times and had a late pass intercepted in the end zone by linebacker Mack Wilson. Nose guard Quinnen Williams finished with 2 1/2 sacks. Lineabckers Anfernee Jennings and Christian Miller each had one. The Tigers were helpless to relieve pressure on Burrow with the running game, held to just 12 yards.
Most LSU plays ended with crimson jerseys swarming to the ball at, near or behind the line of scrimmage.
Alabama finished with a 576-196 advantage in total yards in beating LSU for the eighth straight time.
''This is the worst we've played,'' Orgeron said. ''We weren't even close to them tonight.''
Damien Harris rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries, including his 1-yard TD run, for Alabama. Najee Harris gained 83 yards on the ground, 29 on one carry.
Jerry Jeudy caught eight passes for 103 yards and Irv Smith Jr. had four catches for 64 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown grab late in the first half.
''I was really, really pleased with the explosive plays we were able to make,'' Saban said.
Henry Ruggs III caught four passes for 55 yards and scored the first touchdown of the game, but injured his left leg late in the second quarter. Saban said X-rays were negative but further evaluation was pending.
Tagovailoa's interception came on a deep throw down the middle, which Todd Harris Jr. hauled in for his first career pick while falling to the ground at the LSU 4.
The Tiger Stadium crowd went wild, as it appeared the turnover might get LSU to halftime down by no more than nine points, perhaps less, if the Tigers could move the ball
But the Crimson Tide's response was emphatic. Burrow was sacked inside the 1, and LSU had to punt shortly afterward.
Alabama got the ball back on its 46 and Tagovailoa needed just two plays - a 29-yard pass to Jeudy, followed by his scoring strike to Smith - to widen the Tide's lead.
The best defense Alabama has faced this season wasn't good enough on its own field to stop the Tide from gashing it for eight plays of 20-plus yards, or from covering a 14-point spread on the road by 15 points.
''It shows what kind of things we can do against basically anyone,'' Tagovailoa said.
The Tigers' athleticism and effort kept the score respectable for a little more than a half, but key statistical differentials in yards and time of possession told the story of a thoroughly lopsided game. LSU has had to shuffle its offensive line much of the season, and the Tigers struggled to match the Tide physically at the point of attack. Guard Garett Brumfield tried to come back for the first time in four games, but struggled and was intermittently replaced by Chasen Hines to start the second half.
Alabama hosts Mississippi State on Saturday.
LSU travels to Arkansas on Saturday.
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