Sorry about the delay, y'all. I drove to the game from Dallas, and made the drive back home today. In the meantime, my hotel did not have the best internet access in the world, all for 89 cents a minute. So you had to wait for the postgame column. Logisitics, you know?
The LSU-Auburn rivalry celebrated the 25th anniversary of one of its most celebrated, and overrated, games. Many of the games in the past 25 years were so terrific, they have names that elicit a nod of the head. Heck, some games have two names, like a Civil War battle (the Aubies insist on calling the Bring Back the Magic Game the Whistle Game). This was not one of those games.
In fact, when we write the history of the LSU-Auburn rivalry, this game will lucky to merit more than a few paragraphs. It was a dud in almost every way. The weather was lousy, the play was sloppy, and the game lacked any sort of drama. OK, my mom got concerned in the final six minutes, but my mom is paranoid. The only people nervous about this game in the second half were gamblers who laid the points.
LSU snapped its streak of games with a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, but it was pretty darn close. LSU added a third touchdown 2:26 into the second quarter to take a 21-0 lead in its third straight game. Like those other three games, LSU promptly lost interest in the game at that point.
After taking a 21 point lead, LSU would spend the rest of the game alternating between giving Auburn hope, and then crushing those hopes. Auburn would put together a nice drive, score a touchdown, and cut the lead to 14. Each time, LSU would then look mildly surprised, but then put together a drive themselves and put the lead back up to three touchdowns.
Auburn would never get closer than 14 points, but they did at least make the game interesting the second half. Give Auburn credit, they never gave up on the game, and Malzahn kept dialing up aggressive play calls, routinely going for it on fourth down. I liked the strategy and the attitude, and it's not going to be long before we can go back to truly hating Auburn without seeming just mean to the 80-pound weakling in the back of the class.
This game was more of the same from what we've seen from the LSU team, and there are still lots of looming question marks. One thing that is not a question is Jeremy Hill, who turned out a performance so dominating, it was reminiscent of Cecil Collins. Hill scored a touchdown on his first two carries of the game, and he ended the night with 183 yards on 25 carries.
Yeah, he's a bad ass.
Jarvis Landry made his normal array of fantastic catches, though one of his TD's was taken off the board by one of the most questionable holding penalties I've ever seen. Landry finished with 7 catches and 118 yards. He and Beckham have established themselves as stars.
Everything else? Still a question mark. We might have nice answers, but there's reason for both optimism and concern with just about everything. The defense shut down Auburn in the first half, but in the second allowed the Plainsmen to put together four separate drives of over 50 yards, three of those with at least 10 plays. That's the old bugaboo of letting a team up off the mat. Is talent? Lack of depth? A vanilla defense protecting a big lead? Or just a lack of focus? We honestly have no better idea than we did in Week One.
Mettenberger threw his first pick of the season, but that was bound to happen. He chose a bad time, but that's never a good time for a pick, honestly. But he responded by playing even better after the interception, which is a tremendously good sign. This is a team that seems to respond well to adversity.
The key there is "seems". We still don't know. Auburn is feisty, but still not a very good team. The real answers start to come next week, when LSU plays Georgia. No more questions. It's time for answers.