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11/10/2013 12:42 AM EST
No. 1 Alabama overwhelms No. 10 LSU, 38-17
ALABAMA 38, LSU 17

By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- For the first time in two months, an
opponent was standing up to Alabama.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide flashed its overwhelming punching
power to knockout No. 10 LSU in Saturday night's 38-17 victory
Saturday, scoring the final 21 points in punishing fashion.

AJ McCarron threw three touchdown passes, T.J. Yeldon ran for
133 yards and two scores and the Tide (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern
Conference) turned to smash-you-in-the-mouth football to take
control of a game that was tied early in the third quarter.
Yeldon carried 18 times in the second half, 25 overall.

And down went LSU (7-3, 3-3).

"I think we probably played our best half of football," Tide
coach Nick Saban said. "We didn't play great in the first half,
but man I tell you what, a lot of character out there in the
second half."

Yeldon and McCarron had hooked up for the game-winning touchdown
pass in the final minute of last season's meeting with the
Tigers. This one had no such dramatic finish.

Two-time defending national champion Alabama brushed aside its
first challenge since Game 2 against Texas A&M. It was a
dominant performance two days after one contender, No. 2 Oregon,
fell to another, No. 6 Stanford.

McCarron was a workmanlike 14-of-20 passing for 179 yards,
letting Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and their blockers assert control.
He did hit speedy freshman tight end O.J. Howard for a 52-yard
touchdown and overtook John Parker Wilson to become Alabama's
top career passer.

"All he does is win and does what his team needs for him to do,"
Saban said of his senior quarterback. "I think the guy is the
best quarterback in the country."

He didn't need to put up big numbers to improve his career mark
to 34-2.

LSU's Zach Mettenberger completed 16 of 23 passes for 241 yards
and a touchdown but was also sacked four times.

It was the most points Alabama has scored against LSU since a
41-12 victory in 1947.

LSU had won five of the last six meetings in Tuscaloosa, but
lost fumbles on its first two possessions, including one on the
goal line. The Tigers, who came in averaging 40.2 points,
couldn't regain the lost momentum and managed just 52 yards in
the second half and minus-9 in the final quarter.

"You can't turn the ball over," LSU coach Les Miles said. "In
the first half it's a 7-to-nothing game and the fullback (J.C.
Copeland) runs the ball off left tackle. Then we turn the ball
over on the other side of the field. That cost us a terrible
start.

"We overcame it but it took time."

Alabama has been so dominant lately, some students began
chanting "We Want Bama" in the fourth quarter, mimicking the
fans of potential challengers to the reigning champs.

This one, at least, was a contest until Alabama scored two
touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Yeldon powered the Tide to a two-touchdown lead with a workhorse
drive in the fourth quarter.

He ran six times for 34 yards and had a 13-yard catch before
powering it in with 10:31 left to give Alabama a 31-17 lead.

"They came in here thinking that they were going to be more
physical than us," Tide defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan said.
"I feel like we changed that."

LSU swiftly threatened to get back in the game when Odell
Beckham Jr. raced 82 yards on the kickoff return. Alabama held
firm and Mettenberger's fourth-and-13 pass to a well-covered
Jarvis Landry was off target.

And the Tide fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium could finally breathe.

Alabama's Drake ran for 65 yards on 10 carries. The Tide
outgained LSU 372-282, including a 193-43 advantage on the
ground in a game both sides typically call one of the most
physical of each season.

LSU's playmaking receivers Beckham and Landry turned in some big
ones but it wasn't nearly enough. Landry had five catches for 90
yards and Beckham gained 42 yards on three catches.

Alabama limited Jeremy Hill, who came in as the SEC's No. 2
rusher, to 13 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown.

"You could look at the score and think one thing," Mettenberger
said. "But if you watched the game you would know that if we
didn't turn the ball over and made some smarter decisions in the
third and fourth quarters, it would be a ball game."

LSU tied the game at 17 with Colby Delahoussaye's 41-yard field
goal to cap the opening drive of the second half.

Then Alabama turned to a fake punt in its own territory.
Alabama's Jarrick Williams took a handoff from linebacker C.J.
Mosley and ran for a first down on fourth and 2 in Tide
territory after calling time out.

The buck-the-odds gamble that is more Les Miles' calling card
than Saban's paid off. Yeldon capped a 14-play drive consuming
seven minutes, 50 seconds with a 4-yard touchdown for a 24-17
lead.

"We said if they put their defense back in there, we were going
to run it," Saban said. "I felt like we didn't want to give them
the ball back. We were playing great on defense. I think it was
a big play in the game and for our offense to go down and finish
that drive, I think it really changed the momentum."

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