8:00 PM ET, November 9, 2013
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- For the first time in two months, an opponent was standing up to Alabama.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide flashed its overwhelming punching power to knockout No. 13 LSU in Saturday night's 38-17 victory Saturday, scoring the final 21 points in punishing fashion.
More on LSU-Alabama
Alabama didn't play a perfect game in its win over LSU, but like it or not, the Crimson Tide are still atop the college football mountain, writes Chris Low. Story
Alabama's T.J. Yeldon quietly wore down LSU's defense with a 133-yard, two-touchdown performance Saturday night, writes Alex Scarborough. Story
The scoreboard showed a 38-17 loss, but LSU was two plays away from dethroning Alabama, writes Edward Aschoff. Story
• SEC blog
AJ McCarron threw three touchdown passes, T.J. Yeldon ran for 133 yards and two scores, and the Tide (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) turned to smash-you-in-the-mouth football to take control of a game that was tied early in the third quarter. Yeldon carried 18 times in the second half, 25 overall.
And down went LSU (7-3, 3-3).
"I think we probably played our best half of football," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "We didn't play great in the first half, but man I tell you what, a lot of character out there in the second half."
Yeldon and McCarron had hooked up for the game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute of last season's meeting with the Tigers. This one had no such dramatic finish.
Two-time defending national champion Alabama brushed aside its first challenge since Game 2 against Texas A&M. It was a dominant performance two days after one contender, No. 3 Oregon, fell to another, No. 5 Stanford.
McCarron was a workmanlike 14-of-20 passing for 179 yards, letting Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and their blockers assert control. He did hit speedy freshman tight end O.J. Howard for a 52-yard touchdown and overtook John Parker Wilson to become Alabama's top career passer.
"All he does is win and does what his team needs for him to do," Saban said of his senior quarterback. "I think the guy is the best quarterback in the country."
He didn't need to put up big numbers to improve his career mark to 34-2.
SN: Is Bama better than Florida State?
Both Alabama and FSU are 9-0 and have Heisman-caliber QBs running the show. But which is the better team right now? Vote »
LSU's Zach Mettenberger completed 16 of 23 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown but was also sacked four times.
It was the most points Alabama has scored against LSU since a 41-12 victory in 1947.
LSU had won five of the last six meetings in Tuscaloosa, but lost fumbles on its first two possessions, including one on the goal line. The Tigers, who came in averaging 40.2 points, couldn't regain the lost momentum and managed just 52 yards in the second half and minus-9 in the final quarter.
"You can't turn the ball over," LSU coach Les Miles said. "In the first half it's a 7-to-nothing game and the fullback (J.C. Copeland) runs the ball off left tackle. Then we turn the ball over on the other side of the field. That cost us a terrible start.
"We overcame it but it took time."
Alabama has been so dominant lately, some students began chanting "We Want Bama" in the fourth quarter, mimicking the fans of potential challengers to the reigning champs.
This one, at least, was a contest until Alabama scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
McCarron Shines for Alabama
AJ McCarron passed John Parker Wilson for the most career passing yards in Alabama history. McCarron was at his best when facing pressure, going 9 of 13 for 137 yards and 3 TDs against the blitz.
AJ McCarron Career vs. LSU
|1st 3 Starts||Saturday|
|Yards per att.||6.7||9.0|
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
Yeldon powered the Tide to a two-touchdown lead with a workhorse drive in the fourth quarter.
He ran six times for 34 yards and had a 13-yard catch before powering it in with 10:31 left to give Alabama a 31-17 lead.
"They came in here thinking that they were going to be more physical than us," Tide defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan said. "I feel like we changed that."
LSU swiftly threatened to get back in the game when Odell Beckham Jr. raced 82 yards on the kickoff return. Alabama held firm and Mettenberger's fourth-and-13 pass to a well-covered Jarvis Landry was off target.
And the Tide fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium could finally breathe.
Alabama's Drake ran for 65 yards on 10 carries. The Tide outgained LSU 372-282, including a 193-43 advantage on the ground in a game both sides typically call one of the most physical of each season.
LSU's playmaking receivers Beckham and Landry turned in some big ones but it wasn't nearly enough. Landry had five catches for 90 yards and Beckham gained 42 yards on three catches.
LSU Can't Break Through
After Saturday's loss, LSU still never has beaten a top-ranked Alabama team and is now is 2-11-1 all time against AP No. 1 teams.
No. 1-Ranked Alabama vs. LSU All Time
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
Alabama limited Jeremy Hill, who came in as the SEC's No. 2 rusher, to 13 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown.
"You could look at the score and think one thing," Mettenberger said. "But if you watched the game you would know that if we didn't turn the ball over and made some smarter decisions in the third and fourth quarters, it would be a ball game."
LSU tied the game at 17 with Colby Delahoussaye's 41-yard field goal to cap the opening drive of the second half.
Then Alabama turned to a fake punt in its own territory. Alabama's Jarrick Williams took a handoff from linebacker C.J. Mosley and ran for a first down on fourth and 2 in Tide territory after calling time out.
The buck-the-odds gamble that is more Les Miles' calling card than Saban's paid off. Yeldon capped a 14-play drive consuming seven minutes, 50 seconds with a 4-yard touchdown for a 24-17 lead.
"We said if they put their defense back in there, we were going to run it," Saban said. "I felt like we didn't want to give them the ball back. We were playing great on defense. I think it was a big play in the game and for our offense to go down and finish that drive, I think it really changed the momentum."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... After the game was tied early in the third, the Tigers failed to answer the Crimson Tide's next three TDs as Alabama scored the game's final 21 points.
Gameball goes to... T.J. Yeldon ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns, while his quarterback, AJ McCarron, passed for three scores as top-ranked Alabama prevailed.
Stat of the game... 43, 38. The Tide held No. 13 LSU to 43 yards on the ground. And the 38 points were the most Alabama has scored against LSU since a 41-12 victory in 1947.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-12||5-10|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||1-1|
|FG||03:54||Cade Foster 41 Yd||0||3|
|TD||14:56||Jeremy Hill 3 Yd Run (Colby Delahoussaye Kick)||7||3|
|TD||12:35||O.J. Howard 52 Yd Pass From AJ McCarron (Cade Foster Kick)||7||10|
|TD||05:17||Kevin Norwood 9 Yd Pass From AJ McCarron (Cade Foster Kick)||7||17|
|TD||00:43||Travin Dural 6 Yd Pass From Zach Mettenberger (Colby Delahoussaye Kick)||14||17|
|FG||12:01||Colby Delahoussaye 41 Yd||17||17|
|TD||04:11||T.J. Yeldon 4 Yd Run (Cade Foster Kick)||17||24|
|TD||10:31||T.J. Yeldon 1 Yd Run (Cade Foster Kick)||17||31|
|TD||04:10||Jalston Fowler 3 Yd Pass From AJ McCarron (Cade Foster Kick)||17||38|
LSU had 72 yards on designed runs Saturday, the first time this season the Tigers were held to fewer than 100 such yards. Entering Saturday, LSU led the SEC with the most touchdowns on designed runs and, against Alabama, failed to score multiple such touchdowns for the first time in 2013.[+]
LSU Designed Runs
Zach Mettenberger was 3-of-3 for 89 yards on throws of 15 or more yards in the first half. In the second half, Mettenberger completed 1-of-3 such passes for 22 yards.
LSU ran for 62 yards on designed runs in the first half Saturday, the most such yards allowed by Alabama in a first half this season since Week 1. In the second half, Alabama had more yards after contact than LSU had total rushing yards on designed runs.[+]
T.J. Yeldon ran for 133 yards Saturday, with 100 yards coming on runs inside the tackles. Entering Saturday, LSU had not allowed a team to run for 100 yards inside the tackles in a game this season.
AJ McCarron has multiple Pass TD in 3 straight games for the 1st time in his career.
AJ McCarron has now won 3 of his 4 starts vs LSU (including 1 in a BCS Championship Game), but he only totaled 1 touchdown pass in his first 3 starts against them. He had 3 tonight, completing 70 percent of his passes in the win.[+]
AJ McCarron - Career vs LSU
Against Alabama, Jeremy Hill averaged 4.0 rushing yards per attempt on runs inside the tackles. Entering Saturday, Hill led all BCS AQ players with 8.3 yards per attempts on such runs (min. 50 rush).
Often considered a power-running team, Alabama has also done damage OUTSIDE the tackles in 2013... In conference play, the Tide leads the SEC in yards per rush and 20-yard rushes on carries to the outside this season... Meanwhile, LSU ranks LAST in the SEC in both of those categories...[+]
Rushing Outside Tackles in SEC Play This Season
AJ McCarron threw for 129 yards in the first half Saturday, passing John Parker Wilson for the most career pass yards in Alabama history.[+]
Most Pass Yards in Alabama History
A good sign for LSU early in this game even if it defies common sense: In the last two seasons, ROAD SEC teams who are -2 in turnover differential in the 1st quarter of conference games are 3-0! Alabama did just that earlier this season in a win at Kentucky. LSU did it last season at Auburn (also: '12 Texas A&M at Ole Miss).
Entering today, Alabama was 67-1 after taking a 14-point lead under Nick Saban... The lone loss came in 2010 vs Auburn (led 24-0, lost 28-27)... The Tide have won 32 straight after leading by at least 14 points since that loss.
ESPN Stats & Information