If it wasn’t clear who the best team in college football was over the first 11 weeks of the season, Alabama made its case loud and clear with an emphatic 38-17 victory over SEC-rival LSU on Saturday.
On Saturday, the team proved why the road to the national title still goes through Tuscaloosa.
Given a weak mid-season schedule, it was easy for critics, fans and media alike to question the Tide’s credibility. Heck, the team hadn’t faced a decent offense since Texas A&M back in Week 3.
Against a Tigers offense that came in averaging 480.0 yards and 40.2 points per game, Alabama’s vaunted defense was supposed to be put to the test.
It’s safe to say, the unit passed with flying colors.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger and the Tigers offense found yards tough to come by, managing just 284 yards of total offense—the team’s lowest output of the season. Things were even more difficult on the ground, as the Tigers managed just 43 net rushing yards on 31 carries (1.4 YPC).
The Tide stonewalled running back Jeremy Hill, who enter Week 11 averaging 115.3 rushing yards per game, limiting the sophomore to just 42 yards on 13 carries.
But don’t forget about the play of the Crimson Tide offense.
Alabama proved its doubters wrong, racking up 372 yards of total offense, going 5-of-10 on third-down opportunities and seemingly being able to score whenever it wanted. Behind a powerful rushing attack—193 yards on 42 carries—the team successfully limited the amount of time LSU’s offense took the field, holding the ball for 33:51.
Running backs T.J. Yeldon (25 carries, 133 yards, 2 TDs) and Kenyan Drake (10 carries, 65 yards) paced the ground game.
However, the story of the game has to be the performance put on by McCarron.
Yes, the senior threw for just 179 yards. But he also tossed three touchdown passes and no interceptions on 14-of-20 passing.
His performance becomes even more impressive when you recall that this is a guy who had struggled in his previous three starts against the Tigers:
|A.J. McCarron vs. LSU|
|First 3 Starts||Saturday|
Just goes to show you how much McCarron has grown over his college career.
Not only has he now thrown for multiple passing touchdowns in three straight games for the first time in his career, but the Mobile, Ala. native also surpassed John Parker Wilson for the most career passing yards in school history.
Saban made no effort to hold back his opinion of McCarron, via Albert Breer of the NFL Network:
Nick Saban on AJ McCarron: "I think the guy's the best quarterback in the country."— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 10, 2013
With both the offense and defense playing at an unreal level, the Tide are as close to a shoe-in for a spot in the BCS title game as it gets.
As for everyone else? They’re just playing to see who has the “honor” of being the next team to get stomped on by Saban and Co. in January.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.