AUBURN, Ala. — Good evening and welcome to Jordan-Hare Stadium for a battle of Tigers in the SEC West.
No. 2 LSU (3-0, 0-0) will be playing in its conference opener and first road game of the season while unranked Auburn (1-2, 0-1) already has a league loss to Mississippi State in Starkville under its belt.
The Bayou Bengals enter enemy territory as a near 20-point favorite, an unthinkable fact when you consider the rivalry these schools have had over the past decade or so. The winner has represented the SEC West in Atlanta in an astounding eight of the past 12 years, and LSU is just 1-5 on the Plains since the new Millennium.
LSU should make it two-for-seven this year though even though Tiger quarterback Zach Mettenberger will be making his first-career start on the road. In 2012, he’s completed an impressive 72.7 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and two interceptions. Both picks have come near the goal line, and LSU coach Les Miles has been quite outspoken about getting forced passes near the end zone fixed.
He’ll be bolstered by LSU’s tremendous running game. Even though Alfred Blue won’t play with a leg injury, the combination of Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford, Spencer Ware and Jeremy Hill should be more than enough to carry LSU on the ground. The Bayou Bengals have rushed for well over 200 yards in all three contests so far this season, and against Auburn’s poor rushing defense, they should be able to do it again.
On the other side of the ball, Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier has been just simply putrid. He’s got two touchdown passes and five interceptions, and his only score since the first half of the first game was a Hail Mary to end the first half versus UL-Monroe last week.
LSU should have no problem making the Plainsmen one dimensional and shutting down backs Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason.
But despite everything I’ve just written, there’s a reason Chris Berman says, “That’s why they play the games,” and anything can happen on an SEC Saturday.
So stay tuned to TigerRag.com for a live blog of tonight’s game by Richard Fischer and Hunt Palmer.
1st Quarter recap
LSU 9, Auburn 7
- Starters are RB Kenny Hilliard, FB J.C. Copeland, TE Chase Clement, WBS OBJ and James Wright. As expected Josh Dwoarczyk started at LT. Jarvis Landry next WR in. Michael Ford second RB in. Spencer Ware third RB in. Nic Jacobs second TE in on two TE set. Connor Neighbors second FB in. All played on first drive
- Costly false start penalty on Nic Jacobs (second snap) that made 2nd and one, 2nd and six. Then Zach Mettenberger fumbles at the Auburn two for an Auburn recovery seemingly costing LSU a scoring golden opportunity…. Until Tre Mason was tackled in the end zone on the next play for two Tiger points.
- Travis Dickson came on at the goal line as the third TE. Russell Shepard comes in at WR on LSU’s third drive for his offensive debut.
LSU has been feast or famine third down in the quarter. LSU converted 4-of-6 of its other third down chances. Both failures have been lost fumbles by Mettenberger. Smart football on first and second down is the key on the conversions. No conversion longer than third and five.
- Tigers finish the quarter with 120 yards on 23 plays. 74 came on the ground, led by Spencer Ware’s 39. Ford has 34. Zach Mettenberger has been sharp completing 6-of-7 passes for 46 yards, but two critical fumbles has Auburn in the game.
- LSU opened the game with a front four of Lavar Edwards, Bennie Logan, Anthony Johnson and Sam Montgomery. The linebackers were Luke Muncie, Kevin Minter and Lamin Barrow. Jalen Mills and Tharold Simon were the corners along with Eric Reid and Craig Loston at safety.
- Lavar Edwards got the start for KeKe Mingo at defnesive end, but Mingo played on 3rd down and showed some burst off the edge.
- That play followed a deep shot from Kiehl Frazier to Sammie Coates that Coats dropped. Simon may have gotten away with interference, but it’s interesting that Auburn tested him early.
- Sam Montgomery owned Greg Robinson for the safety.
- Josh Downs entered the game on the 3rd series.
- Sam Montgomery is in the backfield on nearly every play. He helped Micah Eugene in corralling Frazier to force Auburn’s second three-and-out.
- Tre Mason got the edge on the LSU defense on a fake to Onterrio McCalebb. Auburn wants to get the outside. LSU has to know that. McCalebb took it in a play later, and the emotiuon is back in this building.
Special Teams notes
- True freshmen on special teams: Hunter, Thompson, Collins, Deion Jones
- James Hairston booms a touchback to start the game, neutralizing Onterio McCalebb as a return man. His next kickoff is returned from the four to the 20, however.
2nd quarter recap
Auburn 10, LSU 9
- Jeremy Hill sees his first snap on a two-back shotgun set with Ware in the second quarter. Great blitz pick up block on his first play. Miles chooses to punt on fourth at inches near midfield.
- Kadron Boone makes his debut on the second drive of the second quarter and catches a pass for nine yards on his first play.
- LSU took just 13 snaps in the quarter, gained just 62 yards and achieved just three first downs. The offense that seemly did whatever it wanted in the first quarter was stuffed in the second apart from a couple plays. The offensive line is getting whipped by Auburn’s defensive line, and even though Mett is 10-for-13 in the game, he’s getting pressured on nearly every drop back. Corey Lemonier is abusing Josh ‘D’ at LT and I don’t know how much longer the Tigers can leave him out there. Look for a back, namely Jeremy Hill, to play more in the second half and help out with pass protection.
- Miles needs to light a fire under his team at halftime.
- Ronald Martin started the 2nd quarter for Craig Loston at safety.
- Auburn tried the pitch to McCalebb again, and Sam Montgomery blew it up. Greg Robinson is having a very difficult time with him on the edge.
- True Freshman QB Jonathan Wallace has taken a ferw snaps for Auburn. He’s a runner. Could look for a Perrilloux-like throw later, though.
- Incredible tackle by Deion Jones on a McCalebb sweep. He’s going to be a player.
- On a 3rd and long, Chavis decided to sit back and wait for Frazier. Emory Blake cooked Tharold Simon on a post for a 1st down. They are challenging Simon.
- Auburn is really stretching LSU sideline to sideline. Reid and Loston have done a good job getting out there.
Special Teams notes
- OBJ comes dangerously close to muffing an Auburn punt and setting the Plainsmen up in prime position again. Tigers need to protect the football much better moving forward tonight and this season.
3rd quarter recap
LSU 12, Auburn 10
- Josh D. at LT continues to be a liability. Lemonier owns him on a run around the left end and it causes a loss on the play. LSU can’t recover and punts two plays later.
- OBJ could have come up with a bomb near midfield. LSU max protected to neutralize Auburn’s pass rush. Nobody falls for play action on the next play, and LSU goes three and out and is really struggling offensively.
- Following a timely Auburn muff recovered by LSU, Mett finally gets something going in the second half. He connected with Boone for 29 yards. That overcame a holding penalty. But LSU couldn’t overcome a false start penalty and settled for a field goal.
- Penalties are killing the Bayou Bengals tonight. They’ve got nine for 80 yards through three quarters including four personal fouls, keeping them from winning the battle for field position and possibly having a few more field goal attempts. That’s just not winning football.
- Landry got injured on a punt in the third quarter. He did not return in the frame. We’ll keep an eye on him.
- This place is deafening as we go to the fourth with Auburn driving the ball across midfield.
- Stop me if you’ve read this before, Sam Montgomery blows up a sweep for a huge loss on Auburn’s first drive. The Plainsmen might want to go another way. Huge 3 and out for LSU to hold Auburn inside its own 10. Side note, Auburn booted the punt 52 yards, bottle up Beckham and LSU blocked in the back on top of a dead ball foul, so the field position battle is lost.
- Sam Montgomery. Again. Huge sack of Frazier. Kiehl Frazier makes his obligatory horrific play and throws a pick to Luke Muncie who had great coverage of Phillip Lutzenkirchen. Lavar Edwards decided to clock Frazier as a “block”. Way late. Fifteen yard penalty continues the undisciplined effort by the visiting team tonight. It’s still obvious that LSU is content to bring 4 and let Frazier try to read the defense. Ego Ferguson got some snap late in the 3rd. He’s fresh. As I type that, Tre Mason slams up the gut for nine right where Ego was supposed to be. That’s been Auburn’s best interior run play of the night. Auburn blocking better.
- McCalebb almost broke one but Reid snagged his jersey. Quarter break came at the right time for LSU. Tigers look a bit tired.
Special Teams notes
- Add Lamar Louis as a true freshman on special teams (kick return team)
- Killer on an Auburn punt from their own nine. Live ball (holding) and dead ball (personal foul) fouls turn what could have been good field position to starting the succeeding drive inside the 15.
- Alleman drilled a 30-yarder on the ensuing drive.
4th quarter recap
LSU 12, Auburn 10
- Mettenberger made a nice third down throw to keep LSU’s drive alive, but he cant do it again on the next third down. It went in and out of Shepard’s hands on a hotly contested and defended bomb at the goal line. Auburn won handily on first and second down on that drive.
- Tigers get the ball back with four minutes and change remaining. Mett converts a third down on a dangerous cross-field pass to Spencer Ware for 33 yards, all of which after the catch.
- Landry returns to the game after getting hurt on a punt in the third.
Tigers will not be happy with this victory, but a win’s a win’s a win.
- On the 2nd play of the 4th quarter, McCalebb beat Micah Eugene on a wheel, but Frazier overthrew him. Tiger caught a break there. Get the stop.
- On a 2nd and 8, LSU goes Dime. Eugene did a great job in that blitzing role and cracked Frazier. Tigers get the 3 and out and force a punt. Can’t really take much away from the defense. It’s been really good all night. After a big Auburn 1st down, Anthony Johnson and Bennie Logan forced a jail break and sacked Frazier for a loss of 6. Auburn has had success with the read-option quarterback keep., On 3rd and 12 with five minutes left Auburn runs a dive? Uh….. LSU rushes 3 in the Auburn hurryup. Jalen Collins and Micah Eugene in coverage out there. Edwards, Mingo and Montgomery have made Frazier move his feet. Frazier missed a wide open man on 3rd and 7. looked like a hold. Simon picks off the game’s last play. Tigers ESCAPE.
Special Teams notes
Wing shanked a punt for 20 yards as LSU again squanders an opportunity to flip the field position. It went out of bounds at the Auburn 30.
Tigers are late getting Alleman on the field, and he rushes and misses a 34-yarder wide right with 39 seconds to go. Special teams have been a disaster in the fourth.