Don’t write off the Bayou Bengals just yet.
When the LSU Tigers made the trek to College Station Saturday for the first time since 1995, the story was a stingy Tigers defence up against Texas A&M’s freshman pivot, Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Football, as he’s known in the state of Texas, where his high school exploits are the stuff of legend, had twice set the SEC total yardage record in the first six games of his college career, including last week’s 576-yard performance.
Would the Fighting Tigers and their anemic Zach Mettenberger-led offence be able to score enough to offset the damage Manziel could do? Or would the LSU defence figure out the redshirt freshman?
Chalk one up for the latter.
After a rough opening quarter in which the Aggies put together back-to-back 12-play scoring drives of 75 and 66 yards to take a 9-0 lead to open the game, the Tigers defence settled in, forcing five turnovers, including three interceptions of Manziel, to escape Kyle Field with a 24-19 win.
“Defence just had to get their feet set and understand what was going on, get the comfort of the scheme and the habit of throw and how to chase that quarterback. He’s a gutsy, tough guy,” LSU head coach Les Miles told reporters after the game, explaining how they were able to contain Manziel.
Mettenberger was his usual erratic self, finishing 11-of-29 for 97 yards, but the 6-foot-5, 222-lb., junior did hit Kadron Boone on a 29-yard TD strike with 11 seconds remaining in the first half.
That score came only 1:38 after Tigers tailback Michael Ford sprinted up the right sideline for a 20-yard touchdown after Manziel was picked off for the first time.
In the second half, Tigers’ freshman running back Jeremy Hill did most of the damage, scoring on a 47-yard TD romp with 3:12 to play and finishing with 127 yards on 18 carries.
After being handed the ball only 13 times in the first six weeks of the season, Hill now has two straight 100-yard efforts. The powerful 6-foot-2, 225-pounder could be the game-changer the Tigers (7-1) need to offset a woeful passing game.
When the first BCS rankings vaulted the Florida Gators into the No. 2 spot last week and dropped the Oregon Ducks to No. 3, many wondered if the computers got it wrong. But the Gators (7-0) made an emphatic statement Saturday afternoon, hammering No. 7 South Carolina 44-11 in the Swamp behind a stifling defence and QB Jeff Driskel’s four TD tosses ... The Ducks (7-0), however, had already made a statement of their own Thursday, stomping Pac-12 foe Arizona State 43-21 under the primetime lights Thursday ... Standout Ohio State (8-0) sophomore and Heisman Trophy contender Braxton Miller was taken to the hospital after being driven to the turf against the Purdue Boilermakers (3-4). Junior Kenny Guiton came in to lead a come-from-behind 29-22 overtime win, but the Buckeyes star was the story. He was taken to the locker-room in obvious pain and later left the stadium on a gurney, but Ohio State associate athletic director Dan Wallenberg later tweeted Miller “was examined, is symptom free and will soon be released.” ... No. 15 Rutgers got down 10-0 on the road at Temple, but reeled off 35 straight points behind QB Gary Nova’s four TD tosses to win 35-10. The Scarlet Knights (7-0) are for real.
No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) stormed back to beat BYU 17-14 at home. Tommy Rees started at quarterback with Everett Golson (concussion) unable to go ... Teddy Bridgewater finished 21-of-25 for 256 yards and two scores for No. 16 Louisville (7-0), hitting Eli Rogers on an 11-yard strike with just over a minute left for a 27-25 win ... In a classic smash-mouth Big 10 rivalry game, Michigan (5-2) kicked a last-second field goal to beat Michigan State 12-10 at the Big House — where Brady Hoke is undefeated — and become the first NCAA program to 900 wins ... Who knew No. 19 Clemson could play defence? The Tigers (6-1) picked off three passes and came up with two fourth-down stops in beating Virginia Tech 38-17 ... Behind Stepfan Taylor’s 189 rushing yards, No. 20 Stanford (5-2) walked all over California 20-3 ... After losing 17-13 to Vanderbilt (3-4), the Auburn Tigers (1-6) are off to the program’s worst start since 1952. Get your resume ready, Gene Chizik.
On Twitter: @SUNMitchell