No. 3 Alabama holds on to beat huge underdog LSU, 20-14

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama was living dangerously, with a missed extra point, a nonexistent running game and a lead repeatedly in jeopardy.

The third-ranked Crimson Tide’s defense kept turning away heavy underdog LSU late and Bryce Young passed for 302 yards to survive for a 20-14 victory on Saturday night.

“Sometimes we have an expectation that we’re going to win easy, but sometimes it’s not so easy,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

The Crimson Tide (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 2 CFP) preserved their national championship hopes in a game that was as tight as some meetings when both were nursing such ambitions. The injury-depleted Tigers (4-5, 2-4) and lame-duck coach Ed Orgeron didn’t act like 29.5-point underdogs, which they were according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

It certainly wasn’t this time for a team left with no margin for error after a loss to No. 13 Texas A&M.

It wasn’t over until the final play, a Hail Mary that fell incomplete in the end zone. The Tigers came up empty in three fourth-quarter trips into Alabama territory, including that quick venture to the 30 in the final minute.

Young, the Heisman Trophy front-runner, completed 24 of 37 passes with a couple of touchdowns, including a 58-yarder to Jameson Williams. Williams caught 10 passes for 160 yards. LSU harried Young all night and held Brian Robinson Jr. to 18 yards on 13 carries for a team that netted 6 yards on the ground thanks largely to sacks.

But Alabama returned the favor with Will Anderson Jr. racking up 12 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and four tackles for loss.

“Relentless effort, that’s all I can say,” Anderson said about the defensive performance. “It was relentless effort.”

Max Johnson completed 16 of 32 passes for 160 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for LSU. Tyrion Davis-Price ran for 104 yards.

Orgeron didn’t buy into the philosophy that his team had nothing to lose.

“I felt like we had something to lose, because we had the game to lose and that’s important to us,” he said.

“We should have won the game,” Orgeron added. “Our guys played their hearts out.”

Cameron Lewis gave LSU the ball back in Alabama territory after ripping the ball from Young with 3:25 left.

“At that point we knew we’ve got to have faith in our defense,” Young said. “And we have faith in our defense. They played lights out the entire night. They played tremendous. They came up big for us time and again.”

Johnson’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete, but the Tigers got another chance with 50 seconds left.

Ahead for most of the first half, LSU had pulled to 20-14 on Johnson’s 8-yard touchdown with 2:27 in the third quarter. The Tigers converted two fourth-down plays on the 14-play, 89-yard drive.

Alabama had missed an extra point earlier, so LSU later had a chance to take the lead several times late.

The Tide defense held on four straight plays after the Tigers got first and goal from the 8. Replay overturned a Johnson fumble, but his fourth-down pass sailed over the head of Trey Palmer.

Alabama had five sacks and LSU four.

“There was no way we were going to let them score at the end,” Saban said. “I think the defensive players stepped up, and that was great competitive character. It’s always good to beat LSU. I knew this was going to be a tough game. I knew they would play their best game of the year against us.”

THE TAKEAWAY

LSU: Went for broke with a fake punt that set up an opening drive touchdown and six other fourth-down attempts, converting five. It almost paid off, but the Tigers have lost 10 of the last 11 meetings.

Alabama: The defense mostly hung tough but the offensive line couldn’t protect Young or open holes for the running game. The blocking troubles continued to plague the Tide.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Despite the uneven performance, Alabama may have a chance to jump No. 2 Cincinnati, which struggled to a 28-20 win over Tulsa. The Tide seems likely to hold firm in the playoff rankings since No. 3 Michigan State (No. 5 AP) fell to Purdue.

UP NEXT

LSU: Hosts Arkansas next Saturday.

Alabama: Hosts New Mexico State next Saturday.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.