The game that the college football world had been waiting for certainly lived up to its hype this time around.
After an embarrassing performance against Alabama in last year's BCS National Championship Game, LSU had a much better showing on Saturday night, giving the Tide all they had. But in the end, Alabama was again too much for LSU, escaping Baton Rouge with a 21-17 win over the Tigers.
Let's hand out grades for LSU's starters in the loss.
This was arguably Zach Mettenberger's best game as LSU's quarterback, and it came against arguably the top pass defense in the nation.
Mettenberger completed 24-of-35 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown in the loss. The junior quarterback was solid from start to finish and certainly can't be given the blame for this close SEC loss.
He had a great chemistry with both Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
This loss will not be blamed on Mettenberger.
Jeremy Hill had another great game for LSU, rushing for a game-high 107 yards and a touchdown. But outside of Hill, there wasn't much to talk about with this LSU running game.
Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, who are supposed to be the two lead backs for this LSU team and the guys that you figured would step up in a game of this magnitude, combined for a lousy 26 yards on 10 carries.
We knew that running the ball would be hard against this stout Alabama front seven, but Hill managed to find some running room—not so for the others.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
As mentioned earlier, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. were very good in this game.
Landry had that great touchdown catch on a jump ball, and Beckham Jr. was a threat with his speed, averaging more than 18 yards per reception.
Russell Shepard and Chase Clement were invisible as always, with neither recording a single reception in the game. It would be nice to see this team spread the wealth, but Landry and Beckham Jr.'s performances can't be dismissed. They were both solid.
Despite this unit being banged up all year, they played a pretty solid, complete game on Saturday.
Alabama has a dominant defense—make no doubt about it. But the fact that LSU's offense was able to rack up 435 yards says a lot about this team, especially about the play of the offensive line.
This unit protected Mettenberger for the most part and also paved the way for a rushing game that picked up 139 yards on the ground.
That's about as good as it gets against a defense like Alabma's.
Junior DE Sam Montgomery was the star for LSU's defense in this one, which is fitting because many people believe he is also the most NFL-ready player and a guy who shows up big in big-time games.
Montgomery recorded a sack and recovered a fumble, in addition to being around the football a ton on Saturday night. His DE mate, Barkevious Mingo, didn't have as big a game statistically.
The interior defensive line was average. They allowed Alabama to rush for a combined 166 yards in this one. Both Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon averaged more than 6.9 yards per carry, which isn't saying much about the interior of this LSU defensive line that has been so good at times this season.
Overall, this group was rather average in this game.
This is an inexperienced group that continues to get better as the season goes on.
The linebackers faced their toughest opponent of the season and held their own for the most part.
T.J. Yeldon is a slippery back who snuck past the defensive line on several occasions, but the linebackers didn't allow him any huge 25-plus yard runs like we have seen in the past.
In fact, the low point for this unit was on the final touchdown play to close out the game when Yeldon caught a pass from McCarron and slipped through the LSU defense.
Overall, this unit was solid but not spectacular.
LSU's secondary held AJ McCarron to just around 50 percent passing, which is pretty good considering he had been feasting on opposing defenses throughout the first half of this college football season.
Alabama's big-play threat, Amari Cooper, left with an injury, and perhaps that helped boost this group's confidence.
LSU did not allow a single Alabama player to record more than five receptions, which is an outstanding stat considering how hot this passing game was.
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