I don’t disagree with Herbstreit’s score projections, but I only half agree with his assessment of the first game.
To me, LSU played a lot more conservatively than Bama and I think that helped win them the ball game. I’ll give two examples:
1) With 3:15 left in the third quarter and clinging to a 6-3 lead, AJ McCarron throws a pick to LSU’s Maurice Claiborne who returns the ball all the way to the Alabama 15. Bama had not run the ball well on that particular drive – one rush for no yards, and had completed two passes for 30 yards. Though clinging to a three point lead, Alabama was determined to not let LSU have field position for a possible tying field goal. At that point in the game, another field goal would have likely salted the game away and a touchdown would have sealed it. Saban and company did not grow conservative, they tested the LSU secondary and lost the challenge on a bad throw by McCarron.
2) The controversial interception by Eric Reid was also directly the result of a not-so-conservative call by Nick Saban. The Tide had a nice drive going, thanks primarily to an 18 yard catch by Marquis Maze and a 24 yard run by Trent Richardson. In fact, it looked to the casual observer as if Richardson was about to take over. But on the LSU 39 yard line with 14:13 left in the game, Jim McElwain dials up a pass from the Wildcat formation using Marquis Maze.
Neither of those plays strike me as “playing not lose,” nor does the entire first half of offense by Alabama. The Tide dominated the game, but just couldn’t score. In some respects the 9-6 final is a bit misleading. I do think Alabama could have scored as many as 20 more points and LSU eight.