LSU back in the hunt after SC win
College football has always been the perfect medium to show just how drastically things can change in one week.
Seven days ago, people were ready to crown South Carolina as the Eastern Division champs and declare them as the team that would challenge Alabama for SEC superiority. Conversely, people were ready to give LSU their final rights.
Fast forward to a week later, and things have become quite different. Now, people are wondering if South Carolina will lose two in a row, and LSU has planted themselves right back into the thick of the title hunt.
Whether they can maintain the momentum remains to be seen. But one thing has certainly got the LSU nation excited, they got back to "Tiger football" in the 23-21 upset win over the Gamecocks on Saturday night.
They won just like they've won for years now: a dominant defense and running game.
The past three weeks, the Tigers had been held to just 127 rushing yards per game and in last week's 14-6 loss to Florida, they had a putrid 42 yards.
However, even with a wounded offensive line, LSU punished a solid South Carolina defense for 258 rushing yards. That effort was sphere-headed by redshirt freshman and Baton Rouge native Jeremy Hill.
The Tigers had desperately been seeking one of their backs to finally step up and fill in for Alfred Blue--who was lost for the year with a knee injury.
Hill answered the call against the Gamecocks. He showed a perfect blend of power and speed all night to the tune of 17 carries for 125 yards and both LSU touchdowns. His last score was a 50-yarder that ultimately proved to be the game-winner.
And with the running game having so much success and allowing the offense to dominate time of possession, the defense was able to stay fresh all night.
A week earlier, the Tiger defensive unit had dominated the Gators for nearly three quarters but simply ran out of gas late after being on the field for 75 plays.
That wasn't a problem against South Carolina. They were fresh and energized throughout
And the emotion and fire that had been missing all season with Tyrann Mathieu being gone, Sam Montgomery filled in the void. The South Carolina native was all over the place and after every play, he was jumping around and hyping up the rabid Tiger crowd as well as his teammates.
The LSU defensive unit held the Gamecocks to just 211 total yards and only yielded two sustained drives. Most impressively, they held one of the best backs in the country in Marcus Lattimore to just 35 yards on 13 carries.
Zach Mettenberger and the Tiger passing game wasn't great, but they didn't need to be. The way LSU ran the ball, they only needed Mettenberger to manage the game and with the exception of the early interception, he did just that.
The offensive line played their best game of the year--only giving up one sack all night despite going against one the best pass rushers in the country in Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney never touched Mettenberger.
And even though Mettenberger threw the early pick and completed under 50 percent of his passes, he made key completions on third downs late that kept drives alive.
The win improves LSU to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in SEC play. And with them moving up to No. 6 in the BCS standings, they are right back in the thick of things when it comes to the national title picture.
However, they can't get ahead of themselves. This week, they have to go on the road to face No. 18 Texas A&M.
LSU has struggled in both road games this year. They had to narrowly escape 1-5 Auburn with a 12-10 win, and they lost to Florida 14-6.
If the Tigers want to grab another win, they'll have to run the ball as well as they did against South Carolina, and the offensive line will have to play another great game. Texas A&M has one of the best pass rushers in the SEC in Damontre Moore.
And most importantly, the LSU defense will have to match their effort against the Gamecocks because they will face an Aggie offense averaging 47 points per game.
It all starts with their quarterback, freshman sensation Johnny Manziel. Twice this year, he has set the SEC record for most total yards in a game. He had 557 against Arkansas earlier in the year and 576 against Louisiana Tech last week.