By Scooter Hobbs

shobbs@americanpress.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Maybe LSU should have stuck with the original plan.

One of the key, momentum-changing plays in Alabama’s 38-17 victory came shortly after the Tigers had tied the score at 17-all in the third quarter and thought they had stopped the Tide on the ensuing possession with a fourth-and-2 near midfield.

But the Tide, after calling a timeout, faked the punt, converted it on a 6-yard run by Jarrick Wilson and went to the score the go-ahead touchdown that gave it control of the game.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said he didn’t call the time out to go the fake — it was because the Tide was short a man.

LSU had bunched up eight defenders on the line of scrimmage before the timeout, and Saban wasn’t going to run the fake against that alignment.

“We had been working on that a lot,” Saban said, but added they hadn’t practiced it against a bunched defensive front.

But, coming out of the timeout, LSU went with a traditional defense and Saban signaled the fake from the sidelines.

“We didn’t want to give them the ball back,” he said. “I thought it was important to finish that drive. I think it changed the momentum of the game.”

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LOPSIDED: Although it was a much better game, the final margin matched the 21-point spread Alabama put on LSU in the 2011 BCS national championship game, a 21-0 Tide win. It was LSU’s worst regular-season loss since losing 51-21 at Florida in 2008.

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BACK TO BACK ZACH: Zach Mettenberger threw for 241 yards to become the first LSU QB to throw 2,500 yards in back-to-back seasons.

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BACK IN ACTION: Three LSU starters who sat out the last game were all back in action Saturday — FB J.C. Copeland, C Elliott Porter and LT La’el Collins.

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FINALLY BACK: OLB Tahj Jones of Sulphur, who’s been nursing an apparent hamstring injury, made the trip and dressed out for the first time since the Auburn game on Sept. 21.

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NEW STARTER: Corey Thompson started at safety in place of Ronald Martin.

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A.J. ON TOP: Bama QB A.J. McCarron became the Tide’s all-time leader in passing yardage during the 80-yard drive that put the Tide up 17-7 in the second quarter.

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ANOTHER BREAK: LSU, which was the lone Football Bowl Subdivision team to play the first nine weeks without a break, will have its second open date in three weeks this week.

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SPECIAL GUESTS: Among the VIPs in attendance were New York Yankee scaptain Derek Jeter.

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FLIPPING: LSU captains were Metternberger, DT Ego Ferguson, CB Jalen Mills and RB Alfred Blue.

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SERIES: Alabama leads the series 48-25-5 and has won three straight. It was the Tide’s second victory against LSU in Tuscaloosa this century. The Tigers had won five of their last six trips to Bryant-Denny Stadium before Saturday.

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BACK TO HAUNT: Saban, who coached at LSU from 2000-2004, won his third straight against his old team and is 5-3 while at Bama against LSU. Saban is 5-4 all-time against the Tigers, having lost to LSU in the 1995 Independence Bowl while coaching at Michigan State. LSU is 5-5 against former coaches. The only other former coach to face LSU was Paul Dietzel, who lost both times (1966 and 1973) while coaching at South Carolina. Dietzel died last month.

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EVEN UP: Les Miles is 5-5 against Alabama and 3-5 since Nick Saban took over the Tide in 2007.

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BAD TRIO: LSU lost three regularseason games for the first time since 2009.