FEINSWOG: LSU to face first true test Sat.

Now it gets interesting. We can only assume if Arizona and Louisiana-Lafayette played, it would be a heck of a battle. But now those two 45-3 losers are in LSU's rearview mirror. LSU can now set its sights on the Plains of Auburn, Ala., a place where games between the respective Tigers have produced some of LSU's most interesting and bizarre moments.

This game, however, could well produce the national champion. At the least, the loser is all but out of it.


The winner gets no guarantees, but the loser has a markedly uphill battle to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division. If you can't win the SEC Western Division, you can't get to the SEC Championship Game. If you can't get to the SEC Championship Game and win it, you can't win the national championship.


So the stakes are huge. A national CBS audience, 2:30 p.m. kickoff, early long-term weather forecast for high 80s, overcast, maybe a thunderstorm.


Auburn, like LSU, is 2-0 after opening with a 40-14 win over Washington State and then a 34-0 manhandling of Mississippi State this past Saturday.


Auburn will be favored. They're not only playing at home, but the other Tigers have won 18 of their last 19 SEC games.


This will be a battle of tremendous defenses. Auburn's is obviously stout, but having seen LSU's firsthand, it would be hard to imagine there's a better defense in the land.


The pure speed and anticipation is almost spooky. Arizona, which isn't exactly an offensive powerhouse, was simply pitiful early on while it was still a game. The Wildcats gained 15 yards on their first play from scrimmage and got 15 more on a late hit call.


After that? The next three plays netted a minus-21 yards.


Their next possession showed an incompletion, a 4-yard gain and an interception for a touchdown. Oops.


The next time they got the ball, already down 17-nil, it was three downs and punt, another minus-7 yards. And on, and on ...


LSU defenders combined for seven thrown-for-loss tackles. Jonathan Zenon hauled in his third interception of the season, running this one back for a touchdown.


Ten Tigers had three tackles or more, led by Darry Beckwith's nine, five of them solo.


LSU hasn't allowed a touchdown in 14 quarters—most significantly, not in the big Peach Bowl win over Miami, nor in two games this season.


Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville was asked after beating State, at which point during the game he started thinking about LSU.


"Oh, about 14-0," he told The Birmingham News. "You've always got them in the back of your mind because we know we have to beat them.


"I'm sure in the back of their mind they know it is the same thing. There have been some great games over the last few years."


Indeed: Burned buildings, interception bonanzas, cigar smoking, weird calls and, for sure the past three years, national championship implications.


Such is the case this Saturday when the pregame hype will be real and warranted. If you're a college football fan, these are the games that not only define a season, but are fun to watch.





Lee Feinswog is a Baton Rouge sportswriter and host of the television show Sports Monday. Reach him at (225) 926-3256 or lee@sportsbatonrouge.com. His book "HoopDaddy" is available at www.HoopDaddy.net.

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