No. 2 LSU overcame a strong defensive effort by Auburn with a strong defensive effort of its own in a 12-10 win that was too close for comfort for the defending SEC champions.
LSU improves to 4-0 overall while picking up its first conference victory, while Auburn falls to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the SEC in 2012.
Thanks for following our live grading throughout the game. Also, feel free to comment below with your own analysis of LSU's win over Auburn.
We are starting to learn exactly what we can expect from Zach Mettenberger.
The junior played yet another conservative game, not registering eye-popping numbers, but limiting mistakes in the process. He misfired on quite a few throws, but he was also pressured by Auburn on numerous occasions and forced to throw to receivers who were well covered.
Kadron Boone and Spencer Ware were the main security blankets for No. 8, as he hit both for huge first-down conversions.
Mettenberger also looked solid on numerous throws in the face of pressure, which is a skill he'll certainly need as the SEC season rolls along. On the other hand, he also recorded two fumbles, which will be a big improvement point for him and his coaching staff from this game.
He finished 15-of-27 for 169 yards at an average of 6.3 yards per attempt.
However, the main stat for Mettenberger and LSU was the final score.
Relative to their performance in the first three games, the LSU running backs were below average against Auburn.
After averaging nearly 270 yards per game on the ground through the first three, the Tigers netted just 182 on Saturday.
Auburn was able to generate some excellent penetration throughout the game; however, LSU won the war of attrition in the end.
Spencer Ware led the way with some very tough running in this one, registering 16 carries for 90 yards. Ware also added two receptions for 44 yards, including a huge 33-yard run off a dump-off from Mettenberger late in the fourth quarter.
Behind him was Michael Ford with eight carries, 41 yards and the team's only touchdown on the game.
LSU struggled on 3rd-and-short which caused many drives to stall out.
It wasn't a terrible game on the ground, but it was far from what LSU is used to.
Kadron Boone emerged as the go-to receiver for Mettenberger against Auburn.
He led the LSU pass-catchers with three receptions for 49 yards including a couple of huge first-down receptions.
Odell Beckham nearly had a huge reception on a deep ball in single coverage, but it was knocked out of his hands by the defensive back. He ended up with just two catches for 15 yards.
Similarly, Russell Shepard nearly had a deep touchdown reception that was knocked away as he ended up without a catch.
Tight end Chase Clement had one catch for seven yards.
In all, the LSU receivers struggled at times to find open space as Mettenberger was forced to throw into coverage. However, much of this can be chalked up to strong coverage from Auburn.
LSU struggled up front in this game. Auburn generated excellent penetration throughout and was able to slow down an LSU running game that had been otherwise unstoppable.
On the ground, the Tigers gained just 4.1 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, Mettenberger was also sacked twice and faced pressure throughout.
The line was also heavily at fault for both fumbles. The first was simply a fumbled snap, and the second was the result of a play where Mettenberger was sacked by half of the Auburn defense.
If this poor play continues, LSU could be in trouble down the road in the SEC.
As bad as LSU was up front on offense, the Tigers were excellent up front on defense.
Sam Montgomery had a huge game, harassing Kiehl Frazier and the Auburn running backs all night.
On almost every play, someone from the LSU defense was in the AU backfield, as LSU was downright disruptive defensively.
Auburn averaged just 2.9 yards per carry, and if it hadn't been for a few long plays, it would have been much, much less.
In all, LSU had a great game defensively and a lot of it started with the linebackers, who contributed a lot to the pressure on both Frazier and the Auburn running backs.
Luke Muncie had a big interception in the third quarter, as he was able to feed off a huge sack on the previous play by Montgomery.
LSU did have some missed tackles which allowed a few big runs by Auburn. LSU wasn't perfect at the linebacker position, but they were pretty close in this one.
While this game was going on, I thought the LSU secondary was doing worse than it actually was, but in the end, it's hard to argue with the numbers.
Frazier ended with 97 yards through the air and two interceptions.
Eric Reid had his customary huge hits while Micah Eugene—the freshman safety—had two sacks.
LSU had some trouble covering Auburn's big tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen at times, and the corners were exposed by Emory Blake on a few occasions as well.
However, Auburn ended up just 2-of-12 on third down—a lot of which is thanks to the LSU secondary.
LSU made some excellent special teams plays in this one, but every success was negated by unacceptable penalties or equally poor plays.
The Tigers had one (almost two) huge turnovers on special teams.
LSU recovered a muffed punt near midfield which led to the game-winning field goal.
Alleman hit that one field goal from 30 yards, but also missed one late in the fourth quarter.
Wing had some excellent punts, including a 60-yard bomb, but he also hit a few poor punts, including a shank that nearly set Auburn up for a scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
Also, LSU committed way too many turnovers on special teams.
Wing and Alleman have also both struggled a bit to find the consistency they had last year, but in spite of their inconsistency and the penalties, LSU was able to overcome those challenges and win on the back of its defense.
LSU stuck to the plan in this one and it worked—barely, as the Tigers finally won the war of attrition in the fourth quarter.
The offense wasn't great by any means, but the defense held strong enough to salt away a crucial conference victory.
When the run wasn't working, LSU did go to the pass a bit more, though there wasn't much overall success.
Going forward, LSU may need to be more effective through the air against teams that stack the box against the run.
Les Miles had numerous tempting opportunities on 4th-and-short, but his confidence in his defense led him to make the correct and conservative decision.