LSU claims SEC’s best early-2000s rivalry
Tuesday, 25 September 2012 10:58
Following LSU’s sloppy and uninspiring win over Auburn Saturday night, two thoughts kept crossing through my mind on the drive back to the hotel in Montgomery.
One was positive for the Bayou Bengals, and the other was negative.
Because I’m not a Nega-Tiger, or a “Bruce” as the kids are calling them these days, I’ll start with the positive.
It’s the clear and simple fact that LSU has taken a monumental lead and a stranglehold over my SEC West rivalry - the LSU-Auburn rivalry.
First, I’ve gotta explain what I mean by my SEC West rivalry.
See, I’m a 90s kid. Born on the banks of Bayou Lafourche in 1987 and raised on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Hey Arnold, Rocco’s Modern Life and, of course, college football.
When Alabama won the national title in 1992, I had just started kindergarten and didn’t know the difference between Gene Stallings and blue jeans. Then came probation and struggles for the Tide as Alabama won only one more conference championship before Nick Saban promised he wasn’t leaving… the last time… but arriving in Tuscaloosa shortly thereafter anyway.
In the between time, two schools from the SEC West rose to national prominence: LSU and Auburn.
As I entered my formative years (2000-2005), the winner in the Battle of the Tigers represented the Western Division in Atlanta five out of six times. In fact, the LSU-Auburn winner has won the West in eight of the past 12 seasons dating back to 2000.
During that time frame, LSU has won two national championships while Auburn has two perfect seasons including one national championship.
So you can see why I never understood what all the fuss was about regarding Alabama and its “God-given” place atop the SEC hierarchy and the league-wide hatred of the Tide.
When Auburn and LSU took the field, it always meant a little more to me.
I remember being shocked when leverage was called on LSU, giving Auburn a mulligan on an extra point in 2004.
I remember laughing at John Vaughn for missing five field goals in 2005, including clanking the game-loser in overtime off the north end zone goal post.
I remember sitting so high in the Jordan-Hare upper deck without binoculars in 2006 that I was seemly the only person on earth that wasn’t outraged when pass interference wasn’t called.
I remember tick-tock-tick-euphoria in 2007 when Matt Flynn found Demetrius Byrd near the student section’s corner of the end zone.
I remember thinking Jarrett Lee grew up with a comeback victory versus Auburn in 2008 (a little closer to the field this time). Boy was I wrong.
I remember Onterio McCalebb’s game-winning scamper in 2010 and Jarvis Landry’s small but physical act of retribution in 2011 when LSU scored 21 points in 2:24 and Tiger Stadium became more unglued than I have ever seen before.
Simply put, the LSU-Auburn rivalry has always represented what SEC football is all about, and the Bayou Bengals may have put a dagger into the recent SEC’s greatest rivalry this millennium with their ugly victory Saturday night.
LSU has now won four of the past five over the Plainsmen after the schools rotated victories (4-3, Auburn) every year from 2000-2006.
With next year’s battle set to take place in Tiger Stadium, a place Auburn hasn’t won since Tommy Tubberville’s group smoked cigars on the field following a 41-7 triumph in 1999, the Plainsmen have waved the white flag in defeat and ended the 12-year war.
After all, Alabama has surpassed Auburn as LSU’s chief rival in the SEC West, and despite all the fury in the state of Alabama regarding the yearly Iron Bowl, not one Tide supporter would say he or she fears Auburn more than LSU in 2012 and going forward.
If respect from the enemy is the sincerest form of flattery, I think that means LSU can finally celebrate victory over its most respected and feared rival of the early-2000s, Auburn.
But that was only part of what was on my mind as I drove my tank of a rent-a-car through the Yellowhammer State. The other was that LSU’s deficiencies are real and need to be addressed immediately.
Pass blocking will be a problem for the Tigers all year long, and there’s no way Josh Dworaczyk will be able to hold up against the likes of Florida, South Carolina and Alabama at left tackle. At center, P.J. Lonergan clearly isn’t healthy, but the Tigers can’t really rest him due to Elliott Porter’s struggles in the middle.
Add the penalties and sloppiness LSU overcame to beat an out-manned Auburn squad, and the Bayou Bengals have rarely been less astatically pleasing in victory.
A win may be a win, but LSU needs to correct those errors before traveling to The Swamp Oct. 6, and hosting Steve Spurrier’s bunch Oct. 13, or Nov. 3 won’t be ‘The Game of the Century Part III’ after all.
The good news is that the Tigers have every chance to correct those errors and deficiencies, but we better see vast improvement versus Towson next week or these early-season issues could become season-long ones.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 September 2012 11:16