Sunday November 9th, 2014

When Alabama and LSU meet, they usually put on a show. That was the case again on Saturday, as the Crimson Tide edged the Tigers 20-13 in overtime.

Here are three thoughts on the dramatic result in Baton Rouge:

1. Alabama is firmly in control of its playoff destiny

As soon as LSU sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings’ fourth-and-10 pass attempt fell incomplete in overtime, it became abundantly clear: Alabama (8-1) is in the driver’s seat for a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

How did we get here? Well, the SEC’s best have recently beaten up on one another. Take a look at the SEC West standings below.

SEC West Standings
team league overall
Mississippi State 5-0 9-0
Alabama 5-1 8-1
Ole Miss 4-2 8-2
Auburn 4-2 7-2
Texas A&M 3-3 7-3
LSU 3-3 7-3
Arkansas 0-5 4-5

Ole Miss was undefeated before falling to LSU and Auburn in consecutive games. Auburn lost to Mississippi State and Texas A&M, while LSU dropped games to Mississippi State, Auburn and Alabama.

Alabama, with just one loss, at Ole Miss on Oct. 4, was ranked No. 5 in the selection committee’s rankings last Tuesday. Following No. 3 Auburn’s 41-38 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday, it should move into the top four. But the road ahead won’t be easy: Bama hosts Mississippi State next week and Auburn on Nov. 29.

The Crimson Tide have a lot left to do, but they’re in familiar November position.

ELLIS: Late miscues doom Auburn as Texas A&M pulls upset

2. Alabama needs a consistent playmaker other than Amari Cooper

Cooper is having a season for the ages. The junior wide receiver out of Miami has made 79 catches for 1,215 yards with 10 touchdowns this season, and he made eight grabs for 83 yards, including this score, at LSU.

Still, the Crimson Tide’s offense needs other wideouts to step up. Quarterback Blake Sims finished 20 of 45 for 209 yards, and no other Bama target had more than 38 receiving yards. Alabama was held in check for the vast majority of the second half.

But give credit to offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. The much-maligned assistant designed a plan for Alabama to march to a game-tying 27-yard field goal as time expired in regulation and a game-winning touchdown, from Sims to wide receiver DeAndrew White, in overtime.

Alabama’s offense is far from perfect, but it did just enough on Saturday.

3. Leonard Fournette is on the verge of becoming a superstar

Fournette arrived on campus this summer amid nearly unprecedented hype. He was the top-ranked incoming prospect in the nation. Tigers head coach Les Miles likened him to Michael Jordan. Eddie Compass, the former New Orleans police chief who worked with Fournette at St. Augustine (La.) High, told that Fournette was the greatest high school tailback he had ever seen.

Well, after some early hiccups -- he had just 18 yards on eight carries in a season-opening 28-24 win over Wisconsin -- Fournette is beginning to show exactly why he was so sought after. A few weeks after gashing Ole Miss for 113 rushing yards, Fournette carried 21 times for 79 yards against the Crimson Tide. He is big, strong and powerful -- and, in time, he could be just as good as advertised.

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