BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Ticker) -- Alabama may not be eligible for the Southeastern Conference championship due to NCAA probation, but the Crimson Tide staked a claim as the best team in the SEC.
Alabama used a dominating defense to hand 12th-ranked Louisiana State its first shutout in six years with a 31-0 victory that threw the SEC West race up for grabs.
LSU's previous shutout came against Alabama on November 10, 1996. The Tigers suffered their most lopsided shutout loss since a 37-0 setback to Oklahoma in the 1950 Sugar Bowl and it came one week after they defeated Kentucky on a miraculous last-second pass.
"I'm really proud of this team and the way they played together as a team," Alabama coach Dennis Franchione said. "They played very impressively."
"I think we just got beat by a good football team," LSU coach Nick Saban said. "We could not stop the run and we could not play with any consistency on offense."
There was a scary moment for the Crimson Tide with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first half when defensive lineman Kenny King hit his head on the turf when after teammate Byron Dawson accidently landed on top of him.
Following a lengthy delay, King was carted off the field on a stretcher with an apparent neck injury. His condition was not immediately available and Alabama officials refused to comment. King did raise his hand as he was carted off.
Alabama (9-2, 6-1 SEC West) leads the West Division but its record does not count in the SEC standings.
The Crimsom Tide wore down LSU by rushing for 300 yards on 54 carries, led by Shad Santonio Beard, who ran 136 yards on 16 carries, and Santonio Beard, who added 109 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
It marked the first time Alabama had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game since 1996. The Crimson Tide accomplished the feat against the nation's top-ranked defense.
"We rushed for 300 yards and I don't know if they've given up 300 yards in the last four football games (combined)," Franchione said. "It's not happened much with them, so it was an excellent performance from that standpoint."
LSU's defeat left every eligible SEC West team with at least two losses and kept Arkansas, which has three, still in contention. Early Saturday, Georgia handed Auburn its third conference setback with a last-second victory.
"To take something positive from this game, we still control our own destiny," LSU offensive tackle Rodney Reed said. "If we win the next two games, we still win the SEC West. Every game from here on out is a one-game season."
Alabama scored a pair of touchdowns in the final four minutes of the first half to break a scoreless tie. Beard scored on a six-yard run with 4:52 left in the half before Tyler Watts capped a 96-yard drive with a two-yard keeper with 12 seconds remaining.
Nic Luke scored on the conversion run to give Alabama a 14-0 halftime lead.
Watts completed 11-of-20 passes for 177 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Alabama held a 477-196 edge in total offense.
"We held them under 200 yards and got some turnovers," Franchione said. "We didn't give them much."
The Crimson Tide pulled away with 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Beard scored his second TD on a 22-yard run and Watts capped the scoring with a 27-yard TD strike to Zach Fletcher.
"Penalties killed us tonight," LSU quarterback Marcus Randall said. "We came out the first drive and moved the ball well and things just want downhill from there."
LSU was whistled for 10 penalties for 77 yards, while Randall completed just 6-of-17 passes for 39 yards before giving way to Rick Clausen, who was 3-of-6 for 26 yards.
The Tigers had some success on the ground, rushing for 131 yards on 31 attempts.
"I think the real key turning point in the game was when we had fourth-and-2 right before the half with 1:42 to and we punt the ball down to the 4-yard line and they go 96 yards and score right before the half," Saban said. "I think that was a real momentum change in the game."
The Tigers had a chance to open the scoring but John Corbello's 44-yard field goal was blocked with 10:49 left in the first period.
In the third quarter, LSU reached the Alabama 28 following a faked punt, but Randall fumbled on the next play.