Instant analysis: Alabama 38, LSU 17

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Not everything went right for Alabama, especially on defense, but the top-ranked Crimson Tide hit their stride late and pulled away from No. 10 LSU in the fourth quarter to win 38-17.

It was over when: When Alabama's offensive line got in its groove, there wasn't a thing LSU could do about it. T.J. Yeldon got the room he needed to operate, and the rest was smooth sailing. Alabama leaned heavily on the running game in the second half to pull away from LSU, punctuated by 10-play, 71-yard drive that ate up 4:41 and put the Tide ahead by two scores.

Game ball goes to: He was a bit of the forgotten man this week, but Yeldon found a way to make his mark against LSU once again. The talented true sophomore showed great patience and vision with the football, finding the hole in the defense again and again. His 133 yards and two touchdowns proved to be the difference for Alabama's offense.

Stat of the game: AJ McCarron struggled some in the early going, but he found his stride after a while. He might not have turned in the Heisman Trophy performance some hoped for, but he was efficient and productive, something he has done his entire career. In fact, he became the team's all-time leader in passing yards on Saturday night, surpassing John Parker Wilson for first place.

Unsung hero of the game: Tana Patrick has spent the majority of his career on the bench for Alabama, a reserve who saw the field primarily when the game was out of hand. But when Bama went to the goal line package against LSU, there he was. His forced fumble early against LSU kept J.C. Copeland from scoring and kept the game from getting out of hand quickly.

What it means for Alabama: The road to the SEC Championship remains unfettered for the top-ranked Crimson Tide. Hurdling the obstacle that is LSU was huge, as it is every year. The Tigers gave Alabama all it could handle, especially on defense, where Zach Mettenberger abused Bama's corners. Now all that remains is another set of Tigers -- this time from Auburn. The Iron Bowl likely will serve as a play-in game for the SEC Championship.

What it means for LSU: Les Miles was playing with house money already, but that didn't negate the sense of loss on the LSU sideline. The Tigers, already with two losses before this weekend, now must fight to get back into a BCS bowl. A Nov. 23 matchup with Texas A&M in Baton Rouge could be the difference between a meaningful postseason game or not.