TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) – Alabama’s defense couldn’t bail out the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide this time – or rescue its national title hopes.

JaMarcus Russell kept No. 5 LSU’s own championship aspirations alive by hitting Dwayne Bowe in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown in overtime, lifting the Tigers to a 16-13 victory on Saturday.

Russell hit Justin Vincent on a swing pass for 10 yards to open the possession after Alabama (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) had to settle for a field goal. Then the LSU quarterback was stopped for no gain when he couldn’t find an open receiver against the nation’s top scoring defense.

A reverse to Xavier Carter went for 4 yards, forcing a third-and-6. Russell rolled right and threw a strike over the middle to Bowe to punctuate an up-and-down day mostly dominated by the defenses.

The LSU players swarmed to the end zone while the Tide fans mostly remained in their seats, stunned by the sudden end to their surprising run at perfection.

Thanks to a stifling defense, the Tide had won its last three SEC games scoring just one offensive touchdown.

“We came in to win the SEC and win the national championship,” said Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle, who was sacked five times.

“That’s what everybody signs at Alabama to do. The fact that we’re not going be able to do either one unless something crazy happens and we had it right in front of us, it’s a tough pill to swallow.”

LSU (8-1, 5-1) won it without having to turn to kicker Chris Jackson, who had already missed three of his four long field goal attempts.

Alabama opened overtime with a drive that went the way most of the team’s second-half possessions did: nowhere.

The Tide opened with a 5-yard penalty on first down and then failed to convert on third-and-2.

Croyle rolled right under pressure and couldn’t complete it to tailback Kenneth Darby.

Alabama had to settle for Jamie Christensen’s 35-yard field goal.

The Tigers seized control of the SEC West with the win, their fourth in five attempts over ranked teams. They likely need victories over Mississippi and Arkansas to lock it up in the coming weeks.

They were ranked seventh in the Bowl Championship Series standings entering the game, and still can hold out hope for a spot in the national title game.

LSU has won five of the past six meetings with Alabama, which had already beaten two ranked teams at home this season and was hoping to take an unbeaten record into next week’s Iron Bowl at Auburn.

This was the first time the Tigers had played in a regular-season game featuring two top-five teams since 1959.

It was the first top-five matchup ever at Bryant-Denny Stadium since Alabama had played many of its biggest games over the years in Birmingham.

The Tigers had their chances in the fourth quarter against the nation’s stingiest defense, forcing Alabama to punt from its end zone on consecutive drives. But Jackson narrowly missed wide left on a 47-yard field goal and then pushed a 49-yarder right of the goal post with 54 seconds left.

He had also missed a 43-yarder in the first half.

Alabama couldn’t connect downfield on its final possession of regulation, but came fairly close on the final play. Croyle hit freshman tailback Glen Coffee in the flat and he raced down the sideline before several LSU defenders brought him down just inside the 10 with time expired.

Before that, the Tide had gone three consecutive possessions without a first down and managed only 6 yards in the second half after gaining 207 in building a 10-0 halftime lead.

Both offenses went through lengthy droughts against two of the nation’s best defenses.

Alabama had 284 total yards and only four first downs after halftime. LSU had 275 yards and only 72 in the first half – including one rushing yard.

Croyle attempted 26 first-half passes but had trouble at times handling the snaps from new center Taylor Britt, replacing the injured JB Closner.

Croyle finished 19 of 40 for 187 yards, forced to throw quickly with a short drop or on the run by the blitzing Tigers.

Russell ran out of trouble several times and completed 16 of 30 passes for 229 yards while also avoiding the mistakes that had plagued the Tigers at times.

The Alabama defense had pushed its streak without allowing a touchdown to 17 quarters before Vincent’s 1-yard TD run in the third. LSU’s own streak ended at nine quarters on Croyle’s 8-yard third-down pass to DJ Hall early in the second.

AP-ES-11-12-05 2025EST


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