TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Here it was, with Bryant-Denny Stadium in full-throated roar and Alabama charging hard — just as the Crimson Tide always do, having risen once again from the coroner’s slab — so Louisiana State did what it has done in every moment that has mattered this season.
It put the ball in the hands of Joe Burrow, the quarterback with spindly legs, a baby face and, once again, a cold, cold heart.
Burrow delivered time and time again in the fourth quarter, with his arm, his legs and, more than anything, his poise, helping lead L.S.U. to a 46-41 victory in one of the best games of the year, one that more than lived up to its hype before a capacity crowd that included President Trump.
Trump, in fact, may have been the only person in the stadium who did not stay to witness Burrow and the determined play of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who busted through Alabama tackles on both of his fourth-quarter touchdown runs that held the Crimson Tide at bay.
The win, which snapped Alabama’s 31-game unbeaten streak at home, surely will push the unbeaten Tigers to the top of the College Football Playoff rankings, ahead of No. 1 Ohio State and Clemson and who knows who else after the previously unbeaten Penn State was upset at Minnesota on Saturday.
As the Tigers sauntered over to their band afterward, dancing along to “Hey, Baby” with the sliver of the crowd that was purple and gold, they did so having extinguished a bogeyman — and with rare offensive panache.
L.S.U. had lost to Alabama eight consecutive times, dating back to the 2011 national championship game. And after the Tigers had watched their offense so often be ground to a pulp by the Alabama defense, they eviscerated the Tide this time, rolling up 559 yards and scoring more points than they had in their last five losses to Alabama.
But the Tigers needed every bit of that brilliance from their transformed offense to stave off Alabama, which charged back from a 20-point halftime deficit.
If the game had continued like that, the beloved Tide might have been treated more rudely than Trump.
After being booed heartily at a World Series game in Washington and then again at a mixed martial arts event in Manhattan in the last two weeks, Trump found a more hospitable crowd on Saturday. He was greeted with an enthusiastic ovation when he was shown with his wife on a video board during a timeout in the first quarter. He smiled and waved to the crowd.
Alabama has exerted a magnetic pull on Trump.
It was here two years ago that he blasted N.F.L. players who knelt during the national anthem. And in September, when his weather forecasting skills were widely ridiculed for indicating that Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama, Trump displayed a forecasting map that drew more ridicule because it was altered with a marking pen.
His presence on Saturday meant handling a massive crowd, with security befitting a Super Bowl. Fans traveling from Birmingham and elsewhere were advised to arrive early, and the gates were opened more than three hours before kickoff to ensure fans had enough time to get into the stadium.
Along fraternity row and on the main quad, where a veritable city of tailgaters reveled, there were but a handful of signs of Trump’s impending arrival — a 20-foot tall Trump baby balloon and a just-as-big Trump 2020 banner hanging from the Delta Kappa Epsilon house. And the disruptive behavior that Alabama students were warned against earlier in the week at the risk of losing their football seats — a threat that was later walked back — never materialized.
Instead, the stakes of the game — and the tension that it carried down the stretch — largely relegated Trump’s presence to a footnote.
Instead, it was Burrow — the senior transfer from Ohio State — who carried the day.
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