AUBURN, Ala. - LSU was very close to breaking the trends in the LSU-Auburn series, but you know that cliché about being close. All streaks remain in tact. The home team has won the big game for the seventh straight season.

Auburn is poised to win its fourth SEC Western Division title in that span and LSU still hasn't won on the Plains since the days of Gerry DiNardo.


It was a frustrating loss for Les Miles and his Tigers. In typical physical fashion, the teams battled to a defensive stalemate most of the afternoon. LSU had the ball on Auburn's side of the 50 five times in the first half and came away with all of three points.


The Tigers outgained Auburn 309-182. But still Auburn managed to find the end zone for the only touchdown of the game, which proved to be enough for the victory.


Sure some will scream about the officiating on the field, which at times was bad, but Miles and his Tigers knew they had opportunities to drive the dagger into Auburn's heart. But the thing is, Auburn was just as opportunistic on defense as LSU was on the offensive side of the ball.


While the game went down to the final play of the game, which ended when Craig Davis was tackled at the four yard line, there were several determining factors which would most definitely have changed the outcome of the game for LSU.


Five to be exact.


Here they are in the order by which they transpired:


1. On the Tigers' second possession of the game, LSU drove from its own 29 yard line all the way to Auburn's 32, where the Tigers faced fourth and one. Alley Broussard was stopped for a one-yard loss, but LSU got another chance when Auburn subsequently called a timeout just before the snap of the ball. Instead of running the ball up the middle, JaMarcus Russell floated a pass in the flat to Jacob Hester, which Hester apparently caught. Karibi Dede then poked the ball out of Hester's grasp, but the ball bounced out of bounds for an obvious first down for LSU. Auburn challenged the call and it was later reversed giving the Tigers possession.


2. On the second play of the fourth quarter, facing second and eight from the LSU 41 trailing 7-3, Russell completed a pass to tight end Richard Dickson for a gain of 21 yards to the Auburn 38. As LSU celebrated, a late flag came out and right tackle Peter Dyakowski was penalized for what which was later learned to be a ticky-tack holding penalty. Instead of first and 10 at the Auburn 38, LSU faced second and 18 from their own 31. The drive ended with a punt.


3. On the initial Auburn possession following the Dyakowski penalty, the Tigers were penalized for offensive pass interference when Courtney Taylor shoved Daniel Francis out of the way to make a 21-yard reception. Two plays later, with Auburn facing third and 29 from their own 23, a Brandon Cox pass was intercepted by Jesse Daniels at the LSU 44. After the interception, Francis made contact with Taylor and a flag was thrown citing defensive pass interference, which gave Auburn first down at its own 38.


4. Miles complained after the game that the Daniels interception preceding the Francis interference penalty was the exact same situation as when Eric Brock supposedly tipped Russell's pass away from Doucet on the next LSU possession. The officials said Brock batted the pass away from Doucet before Zach Gilbert tackled Doucet, which drew an initial penalty flag. The officials later waved the flag off stating the pass was tipped and awarded possession to Auburn at the Tigers' own 31.


5. It seemed unlikely when Kody Bliss punted to LSU with 1:11 left to play that the Tigers would even threaten to score, especially with no time outs and Auburn's defense playing lights out. But JaMarcus Russell engineered a trademark, last-ditch drive in a valiant effort to pull the Tigers through. Russell got LSU to the four yard line, unfortunately time expired before the Tigers could try and win the game. Why didn't LSU have enough time? The Tigers used their timeouts perfectly in getting the ball back and LSU's receivers did a great job of getting out of bounds. However, Russell took a costly sack near midfield that allowed 20-plus valuable ticks to run off the clock before the Tigers could spike the ball.


And now for the grades:



Like it was pointed out above, Russell did make a couple of bad decisions. Those decisions will only be magnified because they both happened on the game's final drive inside the last minute of the game. However, Russell showed lots of poise in the game, strapped the team on his back and played with a refuse to lose attitude. Under extreme pressure from the Auburn defense, Russell managed to avoid throwing an interception, took only the one costly sack and managed to gain 14 yards on four carries. The offensive line did an admirable job protecting Russell giving the junior signal caller plenty of time to throw. LSU's wide receivers were unflappable as Davis, Doucet and Bowe were unflappable making one amazing catch after another. However, that is where the praise ends for the offense. LSU's complete and total inability to run the football cost the Tigers' dearly in this one. Not only was there very little room to run, Justin Vincent, Alley Broussard nor Jacob Hester did anything to provide a spark for the running game. The three backs combined for 28 yards. The longest rush from scrimmage for LSU was a 12 yard rumble by Russell in the second quarter.

Grade: C-



The streak came to an end. Brandon Cox's 1-yard touchdown run ended LSU's string of 16 straight quarters without allowing a touchdown. It was subsequently the Tigers D's first touchdown allowed this season. But LSU's stoppers did not give it up without a fight. Auburn manufactured just one drive on its first possession of the second half. Kenny Irons broke a few tackles and Cox hit Karl Stewart inside the five setting up the touchdown run, albeit it took Auburn three tries inside the two to get in. Glenn Dorsey played like a man among boys and Darry Beckwith and Luke Sanders logged eight tackles leading the team. The LSU defense sacked Cox four times and limited Auburn to 182 yards of offense as well as just 70 yards on 25 carries for the Heisman hopeful Irons. The LSU defense couldn't have played any better.

Grade: A+



Special teams didn't play a huge factor in the game for LSU. Auburn's John Vaughn missed another field goal against LSU, but what Vaughn lacked, punter Kody Bliss made up for with one booming kick after another. Colt David drilled a career-long 42-yard field goal and Chris Jackson did an adequate job punting the ball. However, LSU's needs to find a spark in terms of a punt return specialist. Chevis Jackson is fielding almost every kick cleanly, but he hasn't done anything yet in terms of a return.

Grade: B



There is no question the Tigers' were prepared for the game. Coach Les Miles had his team in the right mindset heading into the game and it showed with the intensity with which LSU played. However, play selection on offense was a bit too conservative. The Tigers' strength is with Russell throwing the ball around the field to his many talented wide receivers. But the staff stuck with the ground game, which Auburn stuffed time and again. Russell finally showed what he can do in the closing minutes when he is allowed to toss the ball around. Russell's two hiccups in judgment can be heaped onto the shoulders of the coaches as well. LSU fans won't soon forget that the Tigers never took a shot at the end zone in the game's final drive.

Grade: C

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