LSU Stuns Jarrett Stidham, Auburn 22-21 Behind Last-Second Field Goal

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2018

LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) catches a pass and tries to get around Auburn defensive back Noah Igbinoghene (4) as he carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The 12th-ranked LSU Tigers stormed back to score a 22-21 SEC road upset of the No. 7 Auburn Tigers on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.

Auburn scored 21 straight points from late in the second quarter through early in the third. LSU's offense, which went dormant after an early touchdown from Clyde Edwards-Helaire, suddenly came back to life in the fourth courtesy of a 71-yard TD reception by Derrick Dillon.

The visitors capped the comeback triumph with a game-winning field goal by Cole Tracy as time expired.

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Auburn Rushing Attack Must Improve Against Top-Tier Opponents

The Tigers were in terrific shape to beat LSU. They were up 21-10 midway through the third quarter and 21-13 well into the fourth. They struggled to find space on the ground, however, which continued to open the door for their upset-minded opponents.

A better performance from the running game would have likely been enough to seal the deal. Instead, the home squad struggled mightily to sustain drives, a trend that continued from Week 1.

The rushing group averaged 3.3 yards per carry in the team's season-opening victory over the Washington Huskies. It put up 3.4 yards per attempt in Saturday's defeat.

JaTarvious Whitlow and Shaun Shivers each found the end zone once, so it wasn't a total loss for the Tigers' running backs.

That said, the rushers as a whole must do a better job of grinding out yards on first and second downs to keep Jarrett Stidham and the aerial attack out of 3rd-and-long situations. It would also help burn the clock more effectively late in games, something Auburn struggled to do Saturday.

                    

LSU Passing Game May Derail Promising Season

Joe Burrow has yet to throw an interception, undoubtedly a positive as part of an offense where he's tasked with managing the game more than trying to win it. But the Tigers are eventually going to need more from him as they attempt to build an extended winning streak.

The junior quarterback completed 45.8 percent of his throws with no touchdowns against the Miami Hurricanes in Week 1. While he did toss two scores against the overmatched Southeastern Louisiana Lions last week, his completion rate still lagged at 50.0 percent.

His performance Saturday didn't generate much additional confidence.

Burrow went 15-of-34 for 249 yards and one score. While some credit must be given to the Auburn pass rush, which prevented him from settling into many clean pockets, his inability to move the chains consistently on third downs was a serious problem in the Top 25 battle.

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Even his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Dillon was immediately followed by a questionable throw into tight coverage on the two-point conversion.

While Burrow's limitations haven't cost the Tigers yet, it's hard to imagine them making it through the grueling SEC schedule unless their quarterback becomes more reliable from drive to drive.

                

SEC West Will Remain Best Division in College Football

Although Auburn and LSU each still have areas where they need to showcase improvement in the coming months, Saturday's game was another example of the SEC West's strength.

The battles up front, an often overlooked area of the game, were outstanding for 60 minutes, which isn't a surprise given the talent on both sides. It's also why these teams already have wins over Washington and Miami on their respective resumes.

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When you add in the perennially contending Alabama Crimson Tide and Mississippi State, it's difficult to find another division in the country that can match both the high-end teams and the depth. Getting through divisional games without a loss would be a major statement.

ESPN Stats and Info highlighted the difficulty earlier in the week:

LSU's chances of running the table are still alive after its win over Auburn.

                      

What's Next?

Auburn will continue its stretch of four consecutive home games when it welcomes the SEC rival Arkansas Razorbacks to Jordan-Hare Stadium next Saturday.

LSU is also back on the field next Saturday when it returns to Tiger Stadium for a clash with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs out of Conference USA.    

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