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31 Days ‘Til Alabama Football: Leonard Fournette has nightmares of crimson jerseys

It was a bad night for Bugga

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LSU v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In terms of spectacle and the grandiosity of a big game, there were few bigger stakes and more inherent drama than the annual deathmatch that took place on Nov. 7, 2015 between Alabama and LSU.

After an early season loss to Ole Miss, No. 4 Alabama (7-1, 4-1) found itself with a chance to play its way into a share of the lead for the SEC West crown. Their opponent in the must-win? The No. 2 LSU Tigers (7-0, 4-0).

The game was already going to be intense: It is a rivalry after all and every game was a must-win for the Tide. However, shortly before the opening kick, Ole Miss and Arkansas found a way to play one of the most meaningful, to say nothing of improbable, overtimes in recent memory:

The Alabama locker room knew what happened before the ball was kicked off -- they knew this game would decide the Western crown.

In their way? Leonard Fournette and his monstrous season:

Coming into the Alabama game, Leonard Fournette had gained 1,352 yards on 176 carries (7.7 yards per carry) and had gained at least 150 rushing yards in every game this season. The lowest average per carry figure he had before facing the Crimson Tide was 5.7, from Week 1 of the season.

That night, however, would not be his, as Founette was held to the lowest output of his career as a starter.

Alabama held Fournette to 31 rushing yards on 19 carries, and 18 of those yards came on one play. He averaged 1.6 yards per carry and gained 30 of his 31 yards after contact. Take that one half-decent carry out of the equation, and Fournette was averaging just two-thirds of a yard per carry, and gaining almost all of that himself, independent of the blocking.

Alabama did not beat LSU with penetration, they did it by two-gapping and controlling the line of scrimmage -- Fournette had no where to run, literally.

Of course, LSU’s Derrius Guice wanted to spout talking head conventional wisdom about loading the box, but the Tide did not. In its defensive magnum opus, the Tide put 8 men in the box just six times. And it never overloaded and had more than 8 at the line of scrimmage.

It was a Saturday evening where the world turned upside down: Alabama vaulted into first place in the West, and second in the nation, with a30-16 win. Fournette’s opposite, Tide running back Derrick Henry, jumped to the top of the Heisman ballot countering with a 210-yard, 3-touchdown performance that killed most of a fourth quarter and the Tigers’ will to resist. Alabama controlled its national destiny once again.

Despite the tall talk from Tigerland in 2016, the defending national champs went into a night game in Death Valley just a year later and did it all over again.

31 days ‘til Alabama football.

Roll Tide