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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Final: Auburn 24, LSU 17

Big win for Auburn, which now has to start being thought of as a national title contender. Feels weird to say that. Here's how tomorrow's story starts:
AUBURN, Ala. — Cam Newton's final run left him exhausted, sprawled out on his back for a moment as he stared up at the darkening sky.

The 10-yard scamper sealed No. 4 Auburn's 24-17 win against previously unbeaten No. 6 LSU, establishing the SEC's indisputable frontrunner once and for all.

After the final seconds ticked off, Auburn's quarterback found a second wind, sprinting toward the visitor's sideline and leaping a three-foot guard rail to celebrate with the still-cheering Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd.

"I think the adrenaline was still pumping," Newton said with a sheepish smile.

Big wins like Saturday's will do that for you. Auburn (8-0, 5-0 SEC) emerged with a one-game lead on the pack in the highly-competitive SEC West with three conference games remaining.
Here are some more notes and quotes:
  • Auburn did it in with its bread and butter, grinding out 440 rushing yards, the fifth-most in school history and most against an SEC foe. Considering the opponent, the achievement was even more impressive. LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC) entered the game with the No. 1 rushing defense in the league, allowing 83.6 yards per game. The Bengal Tigers had allowed 402 rushing yards to its first four SEC opponents combined. "I think it's a lot of hard work paying off," center Ryan Pugh said. "That defense is as good as you'll play every year. Those guys are athletic. They've got NFL talent all over the field."
  • We can drop the pretense now. Newton is the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. Has to be after running for a career-high 217 yards against what was the SEC's top-ranked rushing defense. He added 86 passing yards, too. "Plain and simple, he's the best quarterback in the country," LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said.
  • Newton's best highlight play (other than a 6-yard loss during which he dodged three or four would-be tacklers) was his weaving 49-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave Auburna 17-10 lead. He plowed over All-American cornerback Patrick Patterson at the end of the play to get into the end zone. "There's a want in every football player to take someone on and that's what we did," LSU coach Les Miles said. "Sometimes when that person is 250 pounds it can be a little much."
  • Here's Newton's description of the play: "It's just a play that is in my job description to make."
  • Newton was not alone running the ball at will. Mike Dyer shook off a balky right knee to hit 100 yards exactly, the second time in his career he's done so. He pushed the pile a good five or six yards at the end of one play. "I heard the crowd," Dyer said. "I felt the guys behind me just pushing it. I felt like we were all in it together."
  • Onterio McCalebb had the game-winning touchdown on a 70-yard run, a jet sweep to the outside that opened up wide for him. "Once I got around the corner, I wasn't going to let anybody catch me," McCalebb said.
  • Most of the credit goes to the offensive line, which doesn't get all the pub the backs do. But they might be the best in the country. "We have great coaches that put us into a position to where it is hard for us to mess up," left tackle Lee Ziemba said.
  • Don't discount the defense's effort in this one. Auburn had horrible field position throughout the third quarter and the defense didn't break. LSU started possessions at its 44, 44 and 47-yard line and gained only 29 yards in the quarter. "We were a lot of three-and-outs in the second half and the field position had flipped there for awhile," defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. "Our kids answered the bell with sudden change and short fields. They stepped up. I’m proud of the way they hung together."
  • Newton might be a lock for SEC Offensive Player of the Year, but defensive tackle Nick Fairley has to lead the discussion on the defensive side. He had 6 tackles, 3.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks Saturday, knocking LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee out of the game briefly. "I love having him in front of me," linebacker Josh Bynes said. "He and I got into it on one of the sacks because I told him, `I got half of it.’ He tried to take all of it. He always says, `Josh, when I get back there I’m going to try to take everything.’ It’s competitiveness."
  • Fairley has 7.5 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss this year, by the way.
  • The patched together secondary deserves some credit too. LSU doesn't throw the ball great, but Auburn only allowed 128 yards in the air a week after giving up 428. That was without Aairon Savage (ankle) and T'Sharvan Bell (hamstring). And starter Neiko Thorpe had his left arm in a cast. "It was a M*A*S*H unit in the secondary, but they never flinched," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said.
  • Chizik showed great trust in his defense. Auburn had the ball at the LSU 40 on fourth-and-six. Instead of punting, Auburn showed a pooch punt formation before throwing an out pass to Darvin Adams. It went wide and incomplete. But the defense came up with a three-and-out, highlighted by Fairley's sack of Jefferson on third down. "I mean if it was a track meet tonight against our defense, I wouldn't have done it," Chizik said of going for it. "I would have punted and tried to pin them down."
  • You just knew Miles had at least one trick play up his sleeve. It came in the fourth quarter. He called for a lateral to running back Spencer Ware, who lobbed a 39-yard pass to Rueben Randle after the Auburn defense bit. The touchdown tied the game at 17 with 12:16 to play. "He was supposed to be covered," said Bynes, who ran back in a futile last-gasp chance to knock the ball down.
  • No update after the game on LB Daren Bates, who appeared to injure his shoulder just before halftime. He didn't come out for the second half.
  • Also, place-kicker Wes Byrum became Auburn's all-time leading scorer, moving past John Vaughn with a 42-yard field goal in the second quarter. He's scored 315 points in his career.
  • Your offensive leaders (not previously mentioned):
  • Adams: 3 catches, 33 yards
  • WR Terrell Zachery: 3 catches, 27 yards, 1 carry, 12 yards
  • Your defensive leaders (not previously mentioned):
  • Bynes: 11 tackles, .5 TFL, .5 sacks
  • LB Craig Stevens: 7 tackles, 1 TFL
  • Thorpe: 6 tackles
  • S Mike McNeil: 5 tackles
  • DE Antoine Carter: 2 tackles, 1.5 TFLs
  • Final word will go to Chizik, about the possibility of next week's Ole Miss game being a trap situation: "This doesn't change anything for us. It doesn't change the way we prepare. It doesn't change the way we talk to our team. It doesn't change the way we practice. It doesn't change anything. This is a step-by-step, day-by-day process, and I know that sounds like coaching clich├ęs, but that is what it is. We are not going to talk about where we end up ranking-wise. We are not going to talk about being 8-0. We are not going to talk about any of that. We are going to talk about Ole Miss next week starting tomorrow, and that is how we will proceed."


MikeP said...

WAR EAGLE! 'Nuff said.

Aubiester said...

Ted Roof gets a game ball this week!!!

RJ said...

Agreed, Aubiester!


Auburn will be #1 in BCS Sunday according to some ESPN reporters I know

Nancy said...

400+ yards rushing ! I was remembering recently that when Gus was hired all kinds of AU people were complaining about going to the spread and passing the ball all over the field...abandoning AU's tradition of hard-nosed running. Maybe Gus's best characteristic is willingness to design the offense around tghe players.

Tar Heel Tiger said...

Well, I'm convinced now that only AU's offense can stop AU's offense.

AUsome04 said...

Nancy, with posts like yours you need to start your own blog, lol. You get me started with AUsome comments every Sunday it seems. War Eagle

RJ said...

AUsome is right, Nancy. You should start a blog. We will all come over and comment, and will become known as the Nancy Boys...

AUsome mom said...

I guess that "high school" offense and that "JUCO player" turned out to be pretty good after all. Whoda thunk it?
War Eagle guys!! I am so proud to be an Auburn Tiger fan!!!

Abbie said...

darvin adams always comes up big in the second half he did it again, he had only 1 catch for 4 yards in the whole first half !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!