ADD: 708 Lianfu Building, No.1-10, Qifu Road, Baiyun New City, distrito de Baiyun, Guangzhou, China
TEL: + 86-20-36700051
BATON ROUGE, La. — Tua Tagovailoa carried his postgame snack with him onto the Tiger Stadium field to do interviews Saturday night. In his left hand he had a bag of Maui Style onion-flavored potato chips, comfort food from his home state of Hawaii.
“These are the best,” the Alabama quarterback said, beaming.
Thus, we have the definitive proof: Tua really is all that and a bag of chips.
The prohibitive Heisman Trophy favorite might have locked up the award in Death Valley, throwing for 295 yards and two touchdowns and running for 49 yards and another score as the No. 1 Crimson Tide throttled No. 3 LSU, 29-0. Tua’s touchdown passes were gorgeous — a slant on the numbers to Henry Ruggs III early and a rainbow to the corner for tight end Irv Smith Jr. late. His TD run was startling, a 44-yard scramble that served as a reminder that a guy who has been a reticent runner this season has the wheels to make big plays on the ground, too.
There were some struggles along the way — Tua threw his first interception of the year, and his 129.5 pass-efficiency rating was nearly 100 points lower than his season average. For the first time all season, he didn’t get Alabama in the end zone on its opening drive, taking a shot to the groin from LSU’s Grant Delpit that put him on the sideline for a play on that first possession. (“He hit me in the goodies,” Tua explained.) But overall it was an excellent performance against what had been the No. 4 pass defense and No. 7 scoring defense in America.
“He made some tremendous plays tonight,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron. “He’s one of the best players I’ve seen.”
This Alabama team may be one of the best we’ve seen as well, having just handed the Tigers their worst home loss in 16 years (since a Nick Saban-coached LSU team lost 31-0 to Alabama). In their biggest challenge of the season, the team with the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense informed college football that it still can play a little defense, too.
Pitching a shutout, forcing punts on LSU’s first nine possessions and holding the Tigers to less than 200 yards total offense was the kind of smothering defensive effort that has defined the Tide during the Saban Era. But until Saturday night this season has been so sharply different, with one explosive offensive performance after another, that Alabama’s D has been overlooked and underappreciated.
After being No. 1 nationally in total defense the previous two years, the Tide was “only” 16th heading into this game. But the signs of improvement from a relatively young unit have been there in recent games — ‘Bama held Missouri to a season-low 212 total yards, then held Tennessee to a season-low 31 yards rushing.
The improvement continued here Saturday. LSU’s 196 yards was its lowest total in three years, since a 2015 loss to Alabama. With defensive tackle Quinnen Williams disrupting everything, the Tide totally owned the line of scrimmage. They allowed 12 rushing yards and sacked overmatched Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow five times.
It was a reminder that for all the sensational skill-position talent on this Tide team, it still has a vast physical advantage up front over almost everyone in America.
“They dominated us the whole night,” Orgeron said. “They whooped us. We’re not there [in the trenches]. … It wasn’t even close tonight.”
Who is close to this Alabama team? Maybe perennial College Football Playoff combatant Clemson. Maybe. Outside of Dabo Swinney’s team, everyone else appears susceptible to a severe beatdown.
This was the game that removed any small shreds of doubt about Alabama’s dominance. This was a quality opponent, on the road, in an absolutely berserk atmosphere, and it was a complete mismatch.