No. 12 LSU used a balanced offense and a stingy defense to hold off No. 20 TCU, 37-27, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on Saturday. With the win, the Tigers extended their non-conference win streak to a record 42 games in a row.
It wasn’t easy, though, as TCU kept things close for most of the game.
LSU’s edge in physicality made the difference…as it usually does. The Tigers pounded the proud Horned Frogs defense to the tune of 197 yards on the ground as Terrance Magee led the way with a game-high 95 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger hit on just 16 of 32 passes, but he produced 251 yards through the air and completed several clutch throws. The Tigers ran 80 plays, held the ball for 35 minutes, converted 13 of 19 third down attempts and piled up 448 yards. All in all, it was a pretty good debut for new LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs couldn’t seem to get anything going in the passing game. Casey Pachall, TCU’s 2011 starter who sat out most of last season, started the game and completed just nine of 16 passes for 75 yards and an interception in the first half. Trevone Boykin took over in the second half and wasn’t much better, completing six of 12 for 70 yards.
Despite holding the TCU offense in check, though, LSU couldn’t pull away as the Frogs took advantage of a second-quarter B.J. Catalon 100-yard kickoff return to stay within striking distance. The Tigers led, 16-10, at the half despite outgaining the Horned Frogs 254 to 104. LSU then dominated in the third quarter as Magee’s two touchdown runs sandwiched another score by Catalon and the Tigers appeared to be in control heading into the fourth quarter, leading 30-17.
That quickly changed.
A TCU punt backed the Tigers up on their own one-yard-line and two plays later a bad exchange between Mettenberger and running back Alfred Blue resulted in the Horned Frogs taking over at the LSU six. Waymon James punched it in and, suddenly, the Horned Frogs were back in business. A 39-yard field goal by Jared Oberkrom made it 30-27 with over seven minutes to play.
But Odell Beckham return the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to the TCU 25-yard line and Mettenberger then found Jarvis Landry on a 20-yard touchdown pass and the margin went back to 10. TCU failed to rally and Les Miles escaped with his 31st-straight non-conference win in his time at LSU.
You have to feel good about this win if you’re an LSU fan. For the first time in a while it looks like the Tigers offense could be showing signs of life. It wasn’t always pretty, but Metternberger made the plays he needed to make in order to beat a quality opponent.
So while many figure Texas A&M to be the main challenger to Alabama in the SEC West, maybe they shouldn’t sleep on LSU just yet.