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Zach Mettenberger vs. AJ McCarron

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Zach Mettenberger has benefited greatly from the guidance of coordinator Cam Cameron. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.
AJ McCarron can further solidify himself as the premiere quarterback in the conference with a victory Saturday night. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

Zach Mettenberger and AJ McCarron are both fifth-year seniors who have been blessed with plenty of skilled players on offense. Even though McCarron was the one to secure the victory with a late touchdown in Baton Rouge last season, it was Mettenberger who played a stellar game.

This year’s game should be another classic between the Tigers and the Crimson Tide, and the quarterbacks will have much do with the outcome. The most efficient quarterback will win the game. Passing efficiency is a category in which both players excel. 

The Case For Zach Mettenberger

The "Zach Attack" is sixth in the country and second in the SEC with a passing efficiency rating of 177.1. McCarron is ninth and third, respectively, and has a rating of 166.6. New offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Cam Cameron has a lot to do with Mettenberger’s confidence and decision-making. The offense definitely plays to his strengths, provides excellent pass protection and features a power running game to set up the play-action pass.

Jeremy Hill is second in the conference with 922 yards rushing and averages an incredible 7.2 yards per carry. LSU boasts two of the top four receivers in the SEC. Odell Beckham Jr. has 1,009 yards receiving and Jarvis Landry has added another 882. The two juniors each have caught eight touchdowns.

Mettenberger is a little bigger (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) and stronger than McCarron (6-foot-4, 214 pound). He has done a phenomenal job this season with the deep ball. His receivers typically don’t have to stop and wait for the ball to arrive; he is capable of leading them on deep routes. Sometimes when McCarron throws deep, the receiver has to stop his route. That allows the defender to catch up and make a play on the ball or tackle the receiver immediately.

The Case For AJ McCarron

While Mettenberger made a name for himself during last year’s showdown in Baton Rouge, it was McCarron who proved himself to the nation during the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against the Tigers in New Orleans. He continuously lobbed passes over the outstretched arms of LSU defenders towards his receivers along the sideline from start to finish.

McCarron doesn’t make many mistakes. He threw three interceptions all of last season and has only three so far this year. This is his third year as a starter, and he has competed on the biggest stages with tremendous success. He is 3-0 in championship games (SEC and BCS).

Mettenberger may have two of the top receivers in the conference, but McCarron has one of the deepest and most talented groups of receivers in the country. Kenny Bell, Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White, and Kevin Norwood just to name a few. All of his receivers seemingly are lean, fast, and capable of breaking a big play anytime they catch the ball. The Crimson Tide also has an impressive stable of running backs led by T.J. Yeldon and Kenyon Drake.

The Winner: Zach Mettenberger

It was tough to pick a winner. Both secondary units will be picked on a lot during this contest, and neither is the strength of their defense. After seeing what Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans did to the defense of Nick Saban and Kirby Smart, this matchup narrowly goes to Zach Mettenberger. It’s hard to envision Alabama’s secondary, especially without safety Vinnie Sunseri, consistently stopping Mettenberger and his two big-play receivers.