Coming into Saturday's game between LSU and Texas A&M, all of the talk swirled around Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel and his gaudy stats.
LSU didn't seem to care, however, because head coach Les Miles knows what it takes to be successful in the SEC. And his game plan clearly doesn't put too much on the quarterback's shoulders.
That's a good thing, too, because Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger was awful on Saturday in College Station, completing 11-of-29 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown in a 24-19 win over the Aggies. He overthrew receivers all afternoon and looked out of sorts from the moment he stepped on the field.
It didn't matter.
Ever since 2008, when 5-star recruit Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed prior to the season, it seems that no matter how many stars a quarterback has when he arrives in Baton Rouge, he immediately loses four.
Mettenberger may have lost all five, but it simply doesn't matter.
LSU proved to Texas A&M that you don't need flashy stats, a creative offense or a freshman phenom at quarterback to win in the SEC. All you need is a fast defense and a physical, downhill running game—and LSU certainly proved that they have both.
That formula has allowed the Tigers to win all but two games over the last two seasons and again find themselves in the national title hunt.
I hope you took notes, Aggies, because it may not be pretty, but this is how you succeed in the SEC.
The freshman sensation in this game wasn't Manziel, it was LSU running back Jeremy Hill. For the second straight week, he took over the second half, rushing for 101 of his 127 yards, which also included a 47-yard touchdown run that essentially iced the game.
The reason he has been so successful in the second half these last two weeks is because LSU's offensive line has been wearing the opposition down and creating gaping holes.
Can LSU win the SEC West with Zach Mettenberger at QB?
It wasn't pretty. As a matter of fact, it was incredibly ugly. But it gets the job done, and that's the most important thing.
Like Florida did to Texas A&M early in the season, LSU outmanned the Aggies by running the ball and playing defense.
If the Tigers continue this, it doesn't matter who's taking the snaps. They'll stay in the title race.