2. Florida State
3. Ohio State
10. South Carolina
LSU's talented receiving tandem of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry had combined for 108 yards on five catches through the first two quarters of Saturday night's game at Alabama, but Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban wasn't offering any sympathy to his secondary.
"I didn't think we did a very good job in the first half," Saban said, "and I just told them at halftime, 'Look guys, you've got to cover them. We're not playing split safeties all the time. We need to pressure the quarterback, so we're going to have more of an attack mode, and you're going to have to cover.'
"I thought we did a really good job of mixing that up in the second half, and I thought the players did a better job of covering. We just played a lot better in the second half."
Alabama didn't respond immediately, allowing the Tigers to drive 50 yards for a field goal that tied the game 17-17 early in the third quarter, but it was complete domination from there as the Crimson Tide pulled away for a 38-17 win. The victory margin was the largest for Alabama over LSU in Tuscaloosa since a 24-3 win in 1990.
In the game's final 27 minutes, Alabama racked up 179 yards while holding LSU to just 2. Three consecutive sacks of Zach Mettenberger totaling 26 yards factored into LSU's troublesome total, but Beckham and Landry were limited to 19 combined yards after the Tigers tied the game.
"Beckham and Landry are the best receivers in the country," Alabama cornerback Deion Belue said. "It's just those two out there, and you're on your own against them. You've got to bow up, because they're going to bring everything they've got.
"The coaches put us in man-to-man, so it was all on us. We had to bring our best in the second half, and we did that."
LSU's Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee had a combined 72 rushing yards when the Tigers pulled into the tie early in the third. They finished with 73 combined yards.
"We changed the way they thought," Alabama defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan said. "They came in here thinking that they were going to be more physical than us, and I feel like we changed that."
Alabama right tackle Austin Shepherd felt the change on his side of the ball as well. The Crimson Tide scored touchdowns on their first three second-half possessions, compiling 228 yards on 32 plays, before using their fourth possession to take a knee three times.
Sophomore tailback T.J. Yeldon rushed for 90 of his 143 yards after intermission.
"Coach told us that it wasn't our best half of football and that we needed to go out and have the best half of football that we've had all year," Shepherd said. "I felt like we did a good job of taking over and getting that push."
As the final seconds ticked off, Saban showed a rare moment of excitement by jumping into quarterback AJ McCarron's arms. Naturally, he was asked about it afterward.
"AJ and I have been through a lot," Saban said. "Some of it you've seen on TV, and some of it you haven't. There is nobody that I've ever had the opportunity to coach that's more into the game and a better competitor."
Alabama has held five of nine foes this season under 100 yards rushing. ... Senior inside linebacker C.J. Mosley tallied 12 tackles and leads the team with 71. ... McCarron on if this year's team can avoid a letdown: "We're hungry, so we'll be ready."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...