LSU will try to avoid MSU trap

Kyle Riviere
LSU QB Zach Mettenberger played his best game against the Tide--throwing for 298 yards and a score.

It was the disappointment of all disappointments for LSU Saturday night as they fell 21-17 to Alabama in Death Valley.

It was a game the Tigers had been chomping at the bit to play since January.

Before a record Tiger Stadium crowd and behind emotional, inspired play, they fought back from a 14-3 halftime deficit and led seemingly unbeatable Alabama 17-14 with only 1:34 left to play.

It was then that the LSU defense--that had been downright dominating the whole second half--let A.J. McCarron and the Tide offense go 72 yards downfield and score the go-ahead touchdown in only 43 seconds.

It took just 43 seconds for a Tiger crowd to go from frenzied screams to dead silence. It took only 43 seconds for LSU to go from being right back in the thick of the national championship picture to having to fight for second in the SEC West.

It's the kind of loss that can stick with a team and tear them down mentally. However, that's something LSU can't afford to let happen.

The season can certainly still be salvaged. If the Tigers can win out, they will be able to reach that coveted 10-win mark for the third straight year and make a New Year's Day bowl. There is even an outside chance they could grab an at-large BCS bowl berth.

Though, all of those aspirations will go down the drain if they can't get past the heartbreak of Saturday night and get ready for No. 21 Mississippi State this week.

The Bulldogs have been embarrassed the past two weeks by Alabama and Texas A&M by a combined score of 76-21. They're backs are against the wall, and they'll be desperate to pull off a huge road upset against the Tigers.

Though Mississippi State has struggled immensely on defense lately, they are still a solid bunch only giving up 20 points a game.

And offensively, they have great balance. LaDarius Perkins has rushed for nearly 1,000 yards with eight touchdowns while quarterback Tyler Russell has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards with 16 scores and only three picks.

LSU showed tremendous potential against Alabama as their offense saved their best performance for the best defense in the country.

If the Tigers can mirror that kind of effort against the Bulldogs, they'll be fine, but offensive inconsistency has plagued LSU all year.

LSU will most likely continue to lean on Jeremy Hill. Hill has become the Tigers' feature back after rushing for 124 yards against South Carolina and another 127 against Texas A&M.

Against the top-ranked Tide defense, he was a work-horse--touting the rock 29 times for 107 yards and a score.

The running game should be just fine, but LSU is hoping Saturday night's magnificent performance by Zach Mettenberger and the Tiger receivers wasn't just a fluke.

Mettenberger finally gave LSU fans what they had been waiting for all year. He was absolutely brilliant against Alabama--completing 24-35 passes for 298 yards and a score with no interceptions.

Most impressively, a lot of his completions came on third and long situations in the face of Alabama blitzes.

As for the Tiger receivers, they shook off some first-half drops to play lights out when it counted most.

They've had trouble getting open all year; not Saturday night. They consistently gained separation in key moments and made beautiful grabs.

Jarvis Landry led all pass-catchers with eight grabs for 76 yards and a score, and Odell Beckham Jr. had one of his best outings with four catches for 73 yards.

If LSU can perform at that level offensively, it'll be hard for any defense to stop them. Any time you put up 435 yards and 22 first downs against Alabama's defense, it's an accomplishment.

It's not often that the Tiger "D" comes up short, but they did Saturday night as they gave up the long game-winning scoring drive.

They'll have to bounce back and prove that drive was just a miracle brought about by the football gods.

Saturday night's game against Mississippi State could very well come down to the mental state of the Tigers.

If there is no hangover from the devastating loss to the Tide, the Tigers have a great chance of starting a new Tiger Stadium winning streak. If they're still down and out, the Bulldogs may just have a trap set for them.