Associated Press Photo
BATON ROUGE, La. (Sports Network) - A.J. McCarron turned it on when his team needed him the most.
The junior quarterback tossed a go-ahead, 28-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Yeldon with less than a minute remaining to lift No. 1 Alabama to a 21-17 triumph over fifth-ranked LSU in a rematch of last season's national championship game.
Drew Alleman missed a 45-yard field goal that would have given LSU a 20-14 lead with 1:34 left, but instead gave the Crimson Tide possession at their own 28.
McCarron, who was just 1-of-7 for zero yards in the second half before the final drive, found his rhythm as he hit Kevin Norwood on three consecutive plays to move Alabama to the LSU 28.
After a pass intended for Norwood in the end zone fell incomplete, McCarron swung a screen pass out to Yeldon, who juked a defender and scampered 28 yards into the end zone to give Alabama the decisive advantage with 51 ticks on the clock.
The Tigers had one final try, but Zach Mettenberger was sacked by Damion Square to end the game and keep the Crimson Tide's undefeated season alive.
McCarron finished 14-of-27 for 165 yards and a score, while Eddie Lacy added 83 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries for Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC), which has claimed four of the last six meetings against LSU, including a 21-0 victory in last year's national title game.
Mettenberger completed 24-of-35 passes for a career-high 298 yards and a touchdown and Jeremy Hill added 107 yards and a score on 29 carries for the Tigers (7-2, 3-2), who had their school-record 22-game home winning streak snapped.
Alabama led 14-3 at the break, but the Tigers began their comeback on their second possession of the third quarter.
Mettenberger went 3-for-3 on the 13-play, 58-yard drive, including a 10-yard strike to Jarvis Landry on 3rd-and-7 to the Alabama 1.
Hill then finished off the march with a 1-yard TD plunge to bring LSU within 14-10 midway through the third.
LSU attempted an onside kick, but James Hairston touched the ball before it traveled 10 yards, giving Alabama possession at the LSU 44.
Yeldon then ripped off four straight runs down to the LSU 10, but the running back was unable to handle the handoff from McCarron on the next play and Sam Montgomery pounced on the loose ball for the Tigers.
Mettenberger found J.C. Copeland for 42 yards on the second play of the ensuing LSU drive and then hit Landry for 23 more on 3rd-and-7.
Two plays later, Mettenberger floated a fade into the front left corner of the end zone and Landry leaped over a defender and hauled in the 14-yard touchdown to give the Tigers a 17-14 lead with just under 13 minutes left in the game.
After a three-and-out from the Crimson Tide, LSU marched deep into Alabama territory, but Spencer Ware was stacked up at the line on 4th-and-1 from the Alabama 24 to keep it a three-point game.
Alabama went three-and-out on its next possession, but LSU again left points on the board when Alleman missed his 45-yard field goal attempt.
Earlier in the game, Alleman buried a 38-yard field goal to give LSU a 3-0 lead on the Tigers' second possession of the game, but Alabama answered early in the second with an 11-play, 92-yard scoring march.
McCarron went 4-for-4 on the drive, including an 11-yard strike to Christion Jones on 3rd-and-6 down to the LSU 7.
Lacy then bulled through the middle of the line on the next play for a 7-yard TD run and a 7-3 Alabama advantage.
LSU again left points on the board on its next drive, as the Tigers faked a field goal on 4th-and-12 from the Alabama 30.
Holder Brad Wing tossed a pass to Alleman, who was swallowed up for a 2-yard loss to give possession back to the Crimson Tide.
Alleman missed a 54-yarder on LSU's next possession with just over a minute remaining and McCarron led Alabama on a 6-play, 63-yard scoring drive.
A pass interference call moved the Crimson Tide inside the red zone and with 16 seconds remaining, McCarron stepped up in the pocket and rushed nine yards into the end zone to send the Crimson Tide into the locker room with a 14-3 lead.