The Crimson Tide proved why they came into the game as the top team in college football, stealing a 21-17 win in the waning moments of their heavyweight clash with LSU.
While the game received a fair amount of hype in the week leading up to it, No. 5 LSU and No. 1 Alabama may have exceeded expectations in a barnburner Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
With 51 seconds remaining, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron found freshman running back T.J. Yeldon for a 28-yard go-ahead touchdown. Alabama drove 72 yards in five plays.
“I know that there was a missed assignment on the big screen play,” said LSU coach Les Miles. “But they were efficient throwing the football. A.J. McCarron played pretty well.”
The Tigers got the ball back needing to drive 80 yards for a score in 45 seconds. Alabama defensive end Damion Square sacked LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger on the last play of the game, and the Crimson Tide rushed the field.
“I don’t think we played our best game,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban. “I think [LSU] played an outstanding game.”
It didn’t look like the Tigers were going to make it much of a game at halftime. The Tide took a 14-3 lead into the locker room, silencing a Tiger Stadium record crowd of 93,374.
But the Tigers came out clawing in the second half.
LSU junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger played mistake-free football, turning in a career-high 298 passing yards against an Alabama defense that came into the game allowing just 145 yards per game through the air.
Mettenberger was especially sharp in the second half, completing 14-of-17 passes for 206 yards as he guided the Tigers to score 14 unanswered points.
“I was thrilled with how Zach Mettenberger played,” said LSU coach Les Miles. “He made all the passes.”
With 12:58 remaining, Mettenberger found sophomore wide receiver Jarvis Landry to put the Tigers ahead 17-14.
“They had good chemistry between those receivers and that quarterback. There was real confidence with that throw, real confidence with that receiver. Those kinds of things make it easy to throw.”
Freshman running back Jeremy Hill, getting his first career start, paced the Tigers rushing attack with 107 yards on 29 carries.
LSU dropped its second game of the season, both of which came against ranked teams. It will get a chance for redemption when it welcomes Mississippi State to Tiger Stadium next Saturday.
“It’s tough,” Miles said. “There’s a game there that you could’ve won.”