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November 4, 2012
FOUR DOWNS: UA bends, doesn't break
The University of Alabama football team faced its biggest test of the 2012 season Saturday at Tiger Stadium. Here is how UA answered four crucial questions against LSU:
1. Will LSU score a touchdown?
The Tigers were held out of the end zone in two meetings with Alabama last season, going eight quarters and an overtime period without a touchdown. It was a different story this time around as LSU put together two second-half touchdown drives to rally from an 11-point deficit and take a lead that held until the final moments. Alabama gave up yards in the first half, but yielded points after intermission.
2. Can Alabama quiet the crowd in Death Valley?
Only for a little while, but it came when UA most wanted the Tigers' faithful watching in stunned silence. Alabama seemed to feed LSU fans' enthusiasm as the offense went flat and the defense began to sag in the second half. LSU came into the contest with a 22-game home winning streak in one of the loudest and most hostile stadiums in the country, but that all ended when AJ McCarron directing the winning touchdown drive in the waning moments.
3. Is LSU good enough to run on the Crimson Tide?
Alabama brought the nation's top-ranked rushing defense into Saturday's contest, allowing 57.2 yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry on the ground. LSU didn't exaclty trample Alabmaa underfoot, but was effective enough to open up the passing game for Zach Mettenberger's coming-out party. Freshman Jeremy Hill ran for 107 yards and a touchdown to lead a 139-yard LSU rushing attack.
4. Which team will win the turnover battle?
Alabama entered the contest ranked No. 2 nationally in turnover margin at better than plus-two per game, with LSU ranked ninth at better than plus-one. It was Alabama that proved generous, coughing up two crucial fumbles while LSU played without a turnover. Cyrus Jones made an ill-advised attempt to field a punt that was already bouncing around on the ground, and botched it. The most costly turnover came in the third quarter on a bad handoff exchange between AJ McCarron and T.J. Yeldon at the LSU 10-yard line. The Tigers drove 90 yards to score after that miscue.
- Tommy Deas