- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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By now you're probably well-versed in the Zach Mettenberger homecoming angle from last Saturday's Georgia-LSU game. You might even be tired of it.
But considering the circumstances surrounding the game -- his return to play against the program he grew up cheering for, where his mother still works, despite his having been kicked off Georgia's team in 2010 following an offseason arrest -- LSU's quarterback is a no-brainer as the SEC's top performer on Saturday.
His typically powerful running game was accomplishing very little and his defense was completely ineffective. That left it up to Mettenberger and his talented team of wide receivers to help the Tigers stay in the game, and they did, scratching back to take the lead late in the fourth quarter before Georgia ultimately scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:47 to play, giving the Bulldogs a 44-41 victory.
Mettenberger had one final opportunity to complete his homecoming with a storybook ending, but his fourth-down pass sailed high and Georgia escaped with the win.
Nonetheless, Mettenberger --already one of the most improved quarterbacks in college football this season == delivered the finest performance of his career, completing 23 of 37 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns.
He showed no signs of distraction following a week of questions about emotional conflicts and previous off-the-field issues when he returned to the stadium where he once hoped to become a star wearing red and black. It would have been understandable if Mettenberger turned in a tight performance under such circumstances, but it was quite the opposite.
Yes it was in a losing effort, but Mettenberger's play against Georgia was about as impressive as it gets.