Zach Mettenberger had a career day, but it wasn't enough to knock off top-ranked Alabama.
No. 5 LSU hosted No. 1 Alabama in a huge SEC West contest with national title implications. The Tigers played practically mistake-free in the second half, but it wasn't enough to knock off Alabama 21-17.
The Tigers racked up almost 400 yards of total offense but still fall to 7-2 (3-2 SEC). On paper, LSU dominated every aspect of the game, but Alabama managed to make just enough plays to get the win.
Here are the final postgame grades and evaluations for LSU.
Zach Mettenberger did everything he could against Alabama, but unfortunately the Tigers came up short.
Mettenberger was 12th in the conference in passing efficiency coming into the game. He stepped up in a huge way under the bright lights of Tiger Stadium.
The QB had some pedestrian numbers in the first half (10-of-18, 91 yards). His second half stats don’t pop out either, but he was efficient as ever. It felt like he made the play every third down on the second half.
Mettenberger finished with an impressive stat line against the nation’s best defense. He went 24-of-35 for a career high 298 yards and a touchdown. Jarvis Landry caught eight passes for 76 and a touchdown.
Jeremy Hill had a career-high 29 carries against Alabama.
The Tigers ground game won the battle at the line of scrimmage. They rushed for 139 yards—the most for any team against Alabama this season. Unfortunately for LSU, it took them 48 rushes to do it.
LSU wore down the Alabama front. They created holes against a tough defense. They dominated for three of the four quarters. It was a solid performance for LSU’s rushing game.
The freshman runningback shoulder a huge load for LSU against his toughest competition in his young career. He had 29 attempts—a career high—for his third straight 100-plus-yard game.
Alabama hadn’t given up 100 yards on the ground to any team this season. Hill did it himself.
Jarvis Landry caught a TD pass from Mettenberger—the only one for LSU.
Drops plagued the Tigers in the first half. Mettenberger couldn’t get on the same page with his receivers and when he did put the ball in their hands, they dropped the passes. Still, LSU had every opportunity to win the game.
The passing game got everything figured out in the second half. Mettenberger went 14-of-17 in the final two quarters. He hooked up with Landry for a 14-yard TD late in the third quarter to close the gap to four points.
Nic Jacobs caught two passes for LSU to lead the tight ends.
The tight ends weren’t much of a factor in the passing game. Nic Jacobs had two catches for 15 yards and Chase Clement had a 29-yard kick return as their only touches of the night.
Still, tight ends play an important role in the running game and the performance the Tigers put together on the ground gives some leniency to the TEs in the passing game. It was a clean game for the tight ends, even though it wasn’t anything flashy.
The LSU offensive line should be credited for the offenses success.
The Tigers offensive line had a solid, all-around day against the nation’s best defense. Putting up nearly 400 yards of offense against any SEC defense is an impressive feat—to do that against Alabama is even more impressive.
Starting two freshmen in Trai Turner and Vadal Alexander, the Tigers offensive line didn’t struggle. Mettenberger was sacked just three times and one of those came on the last play of the game.
Credit should be given to the strong performance by the big men on the LSU offensive line for the success of the offense today.
Sam Montgomery had LSU's only sack against Alabama.
Like the offensive line, the defensive line played a solid, all-around game. Stars like Sam Montgomery and Bennie Logan held Alabama to 166 rushing yards and 1-of-10 on third-down conversions.
The Tigers also forced two fumbles and held A.J. McCarron to 14-of-27 passing with a sack. The defensive line also did a solid job of deflecting McCarron’s passes and hindered the momentum of arguably the nation’s best offensive line.
The LSU defense slowed A.J. McCarron, but couldn't stop him in the end.
A.J. McCarron was 1-of-7 passing in the second half before the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. The LSU linebackers led by Kevin Minter and Lamin Barrow held Alabama in check for the majority of the game.
Outside of Alabama’s three scoring drives, LSU gave up just 94 yards of total offense. They didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher and forced seven punts. The biggest blemish on the night was the check-down pass to T.J. Yeldon for the game-winner.
Overall it was a strong performance from the LSU linebackers.
The LSU defensive backs kept McCarron from throwing the ball downfield for the majority of the game.
Echoing the stats from the linebackers, LSU held McCarron to 1-of-7 passing in the second half before his TD drive late in the fourth quarter. McCarron didn’t have a big day through the air and the secondary was a big part of it.
The secondary didn’t give up deep passes. Most of the passing yards came on short passes and check downs. Even with a depleted secondary due to injuries to two defensive backs including Eric Reid, the Tigers held McCarron to 165 passing yards.
Drew Alleman went 3-of-3 against Alabama last regular season. This year, it was 1-of-3.
Despite a crucial missed 45-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter, LSU’s special teams played a near-flawless game. Drew Alleman went 1-of-3 on field goals, but that included a 54-yard attempt that he slipped on. He had never made a field goal over 45 yards before in his career—the odds were against him on that one.
Punter Brad Wing averaged 46 yards per punt and dropped two of his four inside the 20-yard line. The kickoff team nearly pulled off an onside kick, but they touched the ball before it went the necessary 10 yards.
This unit played a great game and could have been the difference maker. Les Miles asked a lot from this unit and they performed well. It wasn’t their fault the coach asked them to convert a 4th-and-12.
Les Miles couldn't best Nick Saban for a third-straight time in the regular season.
Les Miles may draw a lot of criticism for his decisions throughout the biggest game of the season for the Tigers. He ran a fake field goal on 4th-and-12, tried an onside kick, attempted a 54-yard field goal and went for a 4th-and-short late in the game instead of punting.
It’s easy to say if Miles had done things differently, the Tigers would have won. But, he preaches an aggressive team that plays their game. Miles was aggressive with his play calls and his team responded well.
If Alabama didn’t make a big play late in the game, no one would question Miles’ decisions.
On the positive, he did put the game in the hands of his quarterback in the second half and Mettenberger performed at an extremely high level. The confidence that Miles put in his QB could be a great motivator for the Tigers as they prepare for their bowl game.