A Perfect Saturday: LSU 12, Auburn 10

Yesterday was a “Perfect Saturday.”  What’s that, you ask?

A “Perfect Saturday” is any Saturday when Alabama wins and Auburn loses.  Regardless of the score and regardless of the opponent.  When Bama wins and Auburn loses, it’s a perfect day.

This past Saturday met all of the requirements.  Bama 40, Florida Atlantic 7.  Check.  No. 2 LSU visiting the Plains?  Go ahead and mark it down, baby. The Tigers traveled to Auburn as 20 point favorites and if I was a betting man, I would’ve bet the house.

Unfortunately, if I had done that, I would be homeless this morning.

LSU slept-walked through four quarters and almost found a way to hand Auburn a season-turning win.

Almost.  Almost.

In the end, LSU held the “balanced” Auburn offense to 183 yards and managed to stay out of their own way long enough to kick a game-winning field goal near the end of the third quarter.

Here are some rambling thoughts from this ugly, yet entertaining game:

  • Remember when Zach Mettenberger was being talked about as a pre-season Heisman Trophy contender?  Yeah, in a league that returned Tyler Wilson, Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron and even Connor Shaw, a guy with not one meaningful snap of college football was touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate.  That ought to tell us something about about sports writers.
  • LSU is a lot of things, but not cerebral.  Not defensively and not offensively.  Not in the least.
  • Defensively, they don’t try to fool you with all of that pre-snap shifting.  They just line up and go after you.
  • Offensively, they line up on the line of scrimmage and then look to the sideline to be checked into the appropriate play.  That’s something you don’t see AJ McCarron and the Alabama offense do.  That should tell us a bunch about Nick Saban’s confidence in his signal caller.  And it should tell us something about LSU’s.
  • LSU’s play calling also seemed out-of-sync and predictable.  Run for two yards on first down, then pass.  Then pass on third down.  Successful rush on first down then unsuccessful passes the next two downs.  It has to be very tempting to eat on the burnt toast of the Auburn secondary, but a few more rushes would have probably broken Auburn a lot sooner.
  • Auburn seemed to be channeling Gus Malzahn.  Runs by Onterio McCalebb to the boundary were a staple and they even threw in some Statue of Liberty trickery.
  • Being the sly dogs that they are, Auburn also revealed secret weapon Jonathan Wallace who revamped the Kiehl Frazier “hey I’m in here to run the ball role” from 2011.
  • The Auburn coaches better hope Wallace can throw the ball a bit.  In case they didn’t know it, they used the same trick last year with Frazier and Clint Moseley and the move wasn’t good for either quarterbacks’ health.
  • On the other hand, if Wallace can throw even a teeny bit, why not play him the whole time?

In the end, this was a game that Auburn didn’t have a chance of winning, but nearly did.  So what does that say about them?  And what does that say about LSU?  Probably not as much as some think.  Auburn played a heckuva game given the opponent and given what that opponent did to them last year.  But they aren’t a very good football team.  They are one-dimensional offensively and played good defense against an offense that couldn’t exploit their back seven.  LSU played a bad game with a new quarterback in a hostile environment.  With their defense, they can hang with any team in the country.  But Mettenberger, because of his immobility, takes away a dimension of their offense as well.  Say what you will about Jordan Jefferson, but he could run, and in many of their games the last several years that helped turn close games into blowouts.

LSU hosts Towson next week as they recover from their trip east.  That’s the last gimme for these Tigers.  Florida and South Carolina line up after Towson and then we’ll find out if LSU is for real.

Auburn has a week off to recover from their moral victory.  The three weeks after that will likely determine if they are home for the holidays or BBVA bowling.