This was supposed to be the real test for No. 1-ranked LSU, the game when it got pressed a little to prepare for a huge showdown in two weeks down the road in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Three LSU starters suspended, another defensive starter out of action with a bum knee and Auburn in Tiger Stadium with some momentum after beating Florida the week before.
All the ingredients were there for a real dogfight between these two old West Division rivals, whose games have often featured the weird and unexpected.
What transpired, though, was another SEC romp for an LSU team that seems oblivious to controversy and distraction this season.
Sparked by a big-play offense and senior Ron Brooks’ interception return for a touchdown, LSU blew the game open in the third quarter on the way to a 45-10 triumph, the most lopsided victory ever against Auburn.
Jarrett Lee threw for a pair of touchdowns, Rueben Randle caught one of those and another from Jordan Jefferson and freshman Kenny Hilliard bulled into the end zone twice as LSU improved to 8-0 for the first time since 1973 and only the third time in program history.
LSU has each of those eight games by double digits and five by 30 or more, four of five SEC wins by that spread.
Lee finished 14-of-20 for 165 yards. Hilliard rushed 10 times for 65 yards and Michael Ford led LSU’s rushing attack with 82 yards. Randle finished with 106 yards on five grabs – TDs of 42 yards from Jefferson and 46 from Lee.
Meanwhile, the LSU defense smothered Auburn most of the day, limiting the visitors to 248 yards – 113 in the first half. LSU recorded six sacks of Clint Moseley for -56 yards.
Hilliard got LSU on the scoreboard on the first series of game when he bulled 9 yards for a touchdown to cap a 76-yard drive set up in part by a Lee-to-Odell Beckham 23-yard pass.
Auburn closed to within 7-3 on Cody Parkey’s 42-yard field goal late in the opening quarter, but most of the rest of the day belonged to LSU.
Following a lull when the teams exchanged a handful of punts, Jefferson and Randle revived the crowd of 93,098 with a pretty 42-yard hookup as Jefferson delivered a perfect pass with the pressure on.
Moments later Lee uncorked an equally perfect throw to Randle who ran down the right sideline through a double team and snared the ball in stride.
That gave LSU a 21-3 halftime lead and it quickly ballooned when Lee swung a 10-yard pass to Russell Shepard on LSU’s opening series of the third quarter.
Before Auburn could get anything going on the ensuing series, Brooks jumped a route, swiped a Moseley pass and darted 28 yards.