LSU AT TEXAS A&M
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Say hello to the LSU defense, Johnny Manziel.
Jeremy Hill rushed for a career-high 127 yards and a touchdown, and the sixth-ranked Tigers controlled Texas A&M's dual-threat quarterback to rally from an early deficit and beat the 20th-ranked Aggies 24-19 at Kyle Field on Saturday.
Michael Ford had a touchdown run and Zach Mettenberger threw a TD pass to Kadron Boone for the Tigers (7-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference), who scored 21 points off Texas A&M turnovers.
A&M (5-2, 2-2) outplayed the Tigers for much of the first half and led 12-0, LSU's largest deficit since the national championship game against Alabama in January. LSU converted two A&M miscues into touchdowns just before halftime, and Boone's diving catch in the end zone with 11 seconds left put the Tigers up 14-12 at the break.
Manziel, the SEC's leader in total offense, completed 29 of 56 passes for 276 yards and also threw three interceptions. He was also the league's leading rusher coming into the game and was held to 27 yards on 17 carries.
"Defense just had to get their feet set and understand what was going on," LSU coach Les Miles said, "get the comfort of the scheme and the habit of throw and how to chase that quarterback. He's a gutsy, tough guy."
The Tigers' offense ranks eighth in the SEC and struggled to produce points in two of three previous conference games. The defense forced three turnovers and notched a safety in a 12-10 win over Auburn last month, and stepped up again with the offense sputtering on Saturday.
"They've made life difficult on everybody they've played," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said.
A&M started strong, taking a 6-0 lead on Christine Michael's short touchdown run. LSU hadn't given up a first-quarter score in four games.
LSU went three-and-out on its initial series, and the defense looked a step slow again when A&M got the ball back. Manziel got plenty of protection from the Aggies' offensive line and threaded a 21-yard pass to Mike Evans for a first down at the LSU 34. Taylor Bertolet kicked a 32-yard field goal to put A&M up 9-0.
LSU's defense generated better pressure on Manziel as the half wore on. The Tigers, meanwhile, sputtered for most of the half against the same Aggies' defense that gave up 615 yards in last week's 59-57 win at Louisiana Tech.
LSU got the kick-start it needed when freshman cornerback Jalen Collins intercepted Manziel at the LSU 39. Ford gained 13 yards on a fourth-and-1, then raced 20 yards down the sideline for the Tigers' first touchdown with 1:49 left before halftime.
"The defense always sets us up," Hill said. "Every game they find a way to keep us in the game."
Ben Malena fumbled at the A&M 41 with just over a minute left in the half. The Aggies looked as if they might escape, but Boone's spectacular, over-the-shoulder catch took away their momentum.
"There's really no reason to panic when you get down," Mettenberger said. "You just have to keep grinding away, keep focusing and keep believing. We did that and right before the half we got two quick possessions and two quick touchdowns."
Mettenberger went 5-for-16 and the Tigers mustered only 147 yards in the first half. The Aggies amassed 256 yards in the first half -- 45 more yards than LSU allowed in a 23-21 win over South Carolina last week.
LSU started a drive early in the fourth quarter with eight straight running plays, gaining at least five yards on seven of them. Hill ran 18 yards up the middle to the A&M 9 before Jarvis Landry lost yardage on a pass by Mettenberger toward the sideline, and Drew Alleman's 28-yard field goal put LSU up 17-12 with 8:35 remaining.
Trey Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the LSU 16. Linebacker Kevin Minter nearly sacked Manziel on second down and Manziel's throw to Uzoma Nwachukwu fell incomplete on third down. Bertolet shanked a 33-yard attempt and LSU regained possession with 7:28 left.
"We needed to get out of there with something," Sumlin said.
LSU junior cornerback Tharold Simon put it away when he intercepted Manziel's pass and returned it to the A&M 46.
"Early, we were reacting to balls thrown, and later we were reacting to intent of the quarterback," Miles said. "We were just making better plays and there were some adjustments made by our defensive staff in terms of calls and change of personnel."
Hill then burst up the middle and sprinted to the end zone, going over 100 yards for the second straight week. He rushed for a career-high 124 yards against South Carolina last week. LSU is 31-2 under Miles when it has a 100-yard rusher.
Malena finished a quick A&M drive with a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:17 left. But Odell Beckham, Jr. cleanly fielded the onside kick, and the Tigers held on.
The announced attendance was 87,429, the fifth largest crowd in Kyle Field history. The Tigers and Aggies were meeting for the 51st time -- they played from 1960-75 and from 1986-95 before the series was discontinued. LSU beat Texas A&M 41-24 in the Cotton Bowl after the 2010 season.
AUBURN AT VANDERBILT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Zac Stacy ran for 169 yards and a touchdown and Vanderbilt beat Auburn 17-13 on Saturday.
The Commodores (3-4, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) overcame a fourth-quarter fumble by Stacy, who became the school's all-time rushing leader. Clint Moseley overshot an open Sammie Coates on fourth-and-13 with 52 seconds left as Auburn (1-6, 0-5) dropped its fourth straight.
Stacy, a senior who also owns Vanderbilt's single-season rushing record, carried the ball 27 times. He now has 2,670 career rushing yards. His 27-yard run in the fourth quarter broke Frank Mordica's previous mark of 2,632 yards from 1976-79.
Auburn, just two years after winning the national championship, is off to its worst start since losing six of its first seven in 1952 in Shug Jordan's second year as coach.
SOUTH CAROLINA AT FLORIDA
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Jeff Driskel threw four touchdown passes -- three of them after turnovers -- and No. 3 Florida matched its win total from last season with a 44-11 drubbing of ninth-ranked South Carolina on Saturday.
The Gators avenged consecutive losses to the Gamecocks, including one two years ago that ended with Steve Spurrier and his players celebrating a division title in The Swamp.
Florida's latest whatever-it-takes win kept coach Will Muschamp's team undefeated and put it on the cusp of the Southeasten Conference's Eastern Division title. The Gators (7-0, 6-0 SEC) can clinch a spot in the SEC championship game by beating No. 13 Georgia next week in nearby Jacksonville.
Florida won this one with turnovers, stellar defense and more halftime adjustments -- the kind of successful tweaks that are making Muschamp and his staff seem like the right fit in Gainesville.
South Carolina (6-2, 4-2) lost its second straight.
ALABAMA AT TENNESSEE
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Amari Cooper caught two of A.J. McCarron's four touchdown passes Saturday as No. 1 Alabama defeated Tennessee 44-13 for its sixth consecutive victory over the Volunteers.
Cooper finished with seven receptions for 162 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 42-yard score in the third. Cooper also had a 30-yard touchdown nullified by a penalty.
McCarron went 17-of-22 for a career-high 306 yards for Alabama (7-0, 4-0). T.J. Yeldon rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
Tennessee (3-4, 0-4) has lost 11 of its last 12 SEC games and is 0-14 against the Top 25 since Derek Dooley took over the program in 2010.
Dooley returned to the sideline Saturday on crutches, less than two weeks after undergoing surgery on a fractured right hip. He had coached from the press box last week in a 41-31 loss at Mississippi State.
GEORGIA AT KENTUCKY
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes to rally No. 13 Georgia to a 29-24 victory over stubborn Kentucky on Saturday night.
The junior finished 30 of 38 for 427 yards as the Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) stayed within reach of East-leading Florida entering next week's showdown against the Gators (7-0, 6-0) in Jacksonville, Fla.
Georgia, coming off a bye following a 35-7 loss at South Carolina, had to work hard to get past Kentucky (1-7, 0-5). Despite outgaining the Wildcats 504-329, the Bulldogs trailed three times and needed Murray's fourth TD for a cushion.
Two of Murray's scores were to Tavarres King, who had nine receptions for 188 yards -- including a 66-yard TD.
Arthur Lynch and Chris Conley also caught TDs for the Bulldogs, and Todd Gurley added 47 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Kentucky senior Morgan Newton ran and passed for touchdowns, and Raymond Sanders ran for a 3-yard score.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE AT MISSISSIPPI STATE
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Tyler Russell threw for 191 yards and three touchdowns, Johnthan Banks tied a school record with his 16th career interception and No. 15 Mississippi State pulled away in the second half to beat Middle Tennessee 45-3 on Saturday night.
Mississippi State (7-0) led just 10-3 at halftime, but scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to open a comfortable lead in the non-conference game. It was the ninth straight win for the Bulldogs, dating to last season.
LaDarius Perkins shook Mississippi State's offense out of an extended drought midway through the third quarter, bursting through the middle of the line for a 64-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs ahead 17-3. He finished with 125 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Mississippi State's Chris Smith caught a career-high seven passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
Middle Tennessee (4-3) was led by Jordan Parker's 66 yards rushing.
While WVLT allows comments on articles, we ask that you respect the online community. Comments may be removed at any time for violations including:
Comments may be checked for inappropriate content or rule violation, but the station is under no legal obligation to monitor or remove comments. If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.