So much for all that 20-point favorite talk.
No. 2 LSU (4-0, 1-0) escaped the Plains with a narrow 12-10 victory over Auburn (1-3, 0-2) Saturday night, overcoming two turnovers and a number of War Eagle sacks to notch the team's first victory in conference play.
The visiting Tigers, who lacked momentum most of the night, had to eke out the win despite outgaining Auburn 352 yards to 183.
Gene Chizik's Tigers stayed in the game thanks in large part to LSU penalties and turnovers.
Starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger lost two fumbles in the opening 30 minutes, one coming deep inside the red zone and the other a result of a sack-and-strip by Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier, who finished the game with two sacks and the forced fumble.
"If we don't turn the ball over, this score could be much different," Miles told ESPN heading into the halftime break.
In the penalties department LSU was flagged nine times for a staggering 80 yards.
The Bayou Bengals also did themselves no favors when senior kicker Drew Alleman missed right from 34 yards away with less than a minute to play.
LSU cornerback Tharold Simon, who had some rough moments covering Auburn receiver Emory Blake, picked off quarterback Kiehl Frazier as time expired to preserve the win. The interception was the second of the night for Frazier, who also lobbed a freebie to LSU linebacker Luke Muncie.
Offensively LSU's best success, albeit slow and steady, came via the running game.
Spencer Ware led the way with 90 yards on 16 carries. Michael Ford contributed 41 yards and the team's only touchdown on eight carries. Starter Kenny Hilliard worked for his yards, churning out 40 on 10 carries.
All-told LSU posted 182 rushing yards on 44 carries.
Through the air Mettenberger dinked and dunked his way to 169 yards on 15-of-27 passing. The first-year starter under center was harassed all night by Lemonier and an Auburn defense that had no problem getting pressure past left tackle Josh Dworaczyk and the rest of the LSU offensive line.
"This is going to be a wonderful experience for us because certainly we needed a close game in the conference that meant a lot to us," Miles said following the game. "We've got to play better."
Defensive end Sam Montgomery was a bright spot on the other side of the ball, racking up 3.5 tackles for loss and registering a sack of Frazier, who completed 13-of-22 passes for 97 yards and the two passing turnovers.
On the ground Tre Mason gave Auburn 54 yards on nine carries. Speedy scatback Onterio McCalebb had only 24 yards on 11 totes, but he did have Auburn's only touchdown of the night following the recovery of a Mettenberger fumble.
As Miles said in the direct aftermath of the game, Jordan-Hare Stadium has not been an easy place to find wins for LSU in his tenure, with the only other win coming via a Jarrett Lee-led comeback in 2008.
"In eight years I've been here four times, and I've got two victories," Miles retorted in a matter of fact way.
LSU will be back in action next Saturday hosting Towson.
Able to exhale
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