Aggies start strong, fail to finish in loss to LSU
OCT 20, 2012 3:08p ET
But this was really more of a correction than a collapse. No. 6 LSU (7-1, 3-1 SEC), as it turns out, is better than No. 18 Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2). The Aggies just happened to score their points early, so LSU technically comes away with a comeback win, 24-19 Saturday at Kyle Field, even though it just as easily could have gone the other way.
Kickoff was at 11 a.m., and LSU's work week was over by 3 p.m., leaving plenty of time to relax.
"We're gonna get on a plane, head home and find us a big flat screen," Tigers coach Les Miles said.
It was a fairly banal Tigers performance, all things considered. They did all the SEC things you expect out of a top SEC team. They stuffed the run, they took away the ball, they hurried the quarterback and their quarterback went 11-for-29. It was all so pat.
"They've made life difficult on everybody that they've played," A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said.
The Aggies, of course, spoke regretfully of the turnovers. They committed five of them, and they certainly cost Texas A&M the game. Without an interception from Johnny Manziel and a fumble from Ben Malena, LSU would in all likelihood have gone into halftime without any points.
As it was, the Tigers led 14-12 at the half despite having just 66 passing yards. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger is not supposed to be any kind of hero for LSU, but coach Les Miles would like it if he'd complete a few more deep balls.
LSU's gameplan Saturday seemed relatively simple. The Tigers were going to keep the score and the playcount down, hold onto the ball and try to hit three or four big pass plays. Mettenberger connected with Kadron Boone for one, which gave LSU the lead right before halftime, but otherwise sent them sailing too far to catch.
Texas A&M's defense seemed to be daring LSU to go over the top, betting Mettenberger wouldn't be able to beat them that way. For the most part, the Aggies were right.
Texas A&M would have loved for the game to be about the quarterbacks, what with freshman phenom Johnny Manziel pulling the trigger for A&M. Unfortunately for the Aggies, they got what they asked for.
Manziel had the worst game of his young career, throwing three interceptions and completing just 29 of 56 passes for 276 yards and running for just 27 yards on 17 attempts. After the first quarter, the rush started coming a little faster, the throwing windows started looking a little smaller, and it became clear that an A&M comeback was only going to come by way of some big play, not some methodical drives down the field.
"Johnny Manziel is a very good quarterback," Mettenberger said. "If he learns to minimize his mistakes he is going to be a very good quarterback in this league."
Manziel was neutralized, but the Aggies got their big play when with eight minutes left Trey Williams returned a kick 76 yards to the LSU 16-yard line.
But LSU stomped out that little fire, and Texas A&M kicker Taylor Bertolet missed his second field goal of the day. Including that misses and a penalty that whipped out a touchdown, Texas A&M left at least 10 points on the field. The Tigers were fit to be had, but the Tigers won anyway.
"I like our team," Miles said.
The loss ended a five-game winning streak, and probably knocked Manziel out of the Heisman discussion, which he had been part of for less than a week.
"Against a very talented team, the margin for error is really, really small," Sumlin said. "We made too many today."
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