Behind a raucous home crowd and an inspired performance from their defense, the Auburn Tigers put a scare into the second-ranked LSU Tigers, but could not finish off the job, losing 12-10 in a Saturday-night thriller.
The game was a constant defensive struggle that saw both teams fail throughout the contest to make any significant impact through the air.
Nonetheless, the key play for LSU came on a 33-yard throwback pass from Zach Mettenberger to Spencer Ware for a critical first-down conversion late in the fourth quarter.
The throw helped LSU drain time and helped Mettenberger make up for a first half that saw him fumble the ball twice and almost single-handedly cause his team to head into halftime behind 10-9.
Luckily for Les Miles' squad, the turnover pendulum swung back in LSU's favor in the second half, as Auburn coughed the ball up two times and could not make anything happen offensively.
Going forward, this close contest has to be a cause of concern for LSU. This Auburn team came into the game at 1-2, having lost to Clemson and Mississippi State already this season. Considering LSU has a BCS national championship on the mind, a close call over what should have been an overmatched team is a concerning sign.
Nonetheless, the hopes are still alive. For that reason, let's do a quick recap of the game starting with the best tweets of the night.
Tweets of the Night
Times Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan noticed early-on that the Auburn defensive line was struggling to stop the LSU rushing attack.
Not a good sign for Auburn: They're defensive linemen are celebrating after 4-yard gains by LSU runners.— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncanTP) September 22, 2012
When LSU stuffed a Tre Mason run for negative yards and forced a safety, SB Nation's Spencer Hall used that opportunity to throw a tongue-in-cheek jab at the Auburn offense.
With a two point lead, Les Miles will now ask Gene Chizik if he needs a ride while jerking the car forward three feet at a time every time.— edsbs (@edsbs) September 22, 2012
ESPN's Robert Flores, on the other hand, was seemingly more focused on Zach Mettenberger's facial hair.
When the Auburn coaching staff made a curious decision to run on a critical third-down late in the fourth quarter, SB Nation's Bomani Jones noted the looks of confusion at Jordan-Hare Stadium
the looks of confusion at jordan-hare after that run was called...— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) September 23, 2012
Grades for Key LSU Players
QB Zach Mettenberger: C
While the LSU signal-caller will never be confused for a Heisman Trophy candidate, he comes into games every week and does what Miles asks him to: manages games.
Unfortunately that game manager trait was not on display early on Saturday night, as Mettenberger fumbled the ball twice.
Regardless, his pass to Ware helped the team drain critical time off the clock and helped lead his team to victory. Not a great performance, but not a failure either.
RB Spencer Ware: A
When there was seemingly no lifeblood in the Tigers offense, Ware almost single-handedly kept them in the contest.
After coming into the game with just eight carries for 38 yards for the season, the 5'11" junior ripped off one strong run after another en route to gaining 90 yards on 16 carries.
Going forward, he made a huge impression that should mean more carries the rest of the season.
LSU Team Defense: A
Despite showing a little bit of a weakness against misdirection plays, the defensive unit came out and kept LSU's national championship hopes alive.
P Brad Wing: A
In low-scoring affairs, the jobs done by players in the kicking game go consistently unappreciated.
Without his three punts that put Auburn deep inside its own 20-yard line, there is no way that LSU could have pulled off this win.
He won't have any highlights or get the game ball, but Wing deserves credit for his sheer brilliance on Saturday.
Grades for Key Auburn Players
QB Kiehl Frazier: D
The highly-touted sophomore's season continued circling the drain, as Frazier went just 13-of-22 passing for 97 yards and an interception.
Throughout the contest, the dual-threat was seemingly lost against LSU's complex defensive scheme and could not find anything of significance through the air.
In critical third-down situations, the coaching staff chose running the ball over putting faith in Frazier's arm. That should tell you as much as you need to know about Frazier's night.
RB Onterio McCalebb: F
No one came into the game thinking it would be easy for the Auburn rushing attack to find holes against the LSU defense.
Nevertheless, Gene Chizik's squad had to expect more from its senior star. After averaging 6.4 yards per carry, McCalebb gained just 24 yards on 11 carries on Saturday.
On the other hand, fellow running back Tre Mason broke two long runs and provided a spark to the offense, gaining 54 yards on nine carries.
RB Tre Mason: B
Even though he could not do enough to make his team win, Mason was the unquestioned star of the Auburn offense on the night.
Auburn Team Defense: A-
Other than struggling to stop the LSU rushing attack, the Auburn defense put together an inspired effort that should provide confidence going forward.
Moral victories are hollow ones, but the Auburn defense deserves credit for a stellar effort.