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Wednesday Wayback: The Call Of The Year

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“...AND FLYNN IS BACK TO THROW! FOR THE ENDZONE! HOLY! TOUCHDOWN!”

Today, SB Nation is celebrating (or mourning, if you’re a West Virginia or Missouri fan) the chaos that was the 2007 season. For that reason we’re jumping ahead in the season to October 20th’s matchup against Auburn, a game decided on a play that is a perfect example of the season that was 2007. Don’t worry, Matt Flynn’s Ocean’s 11 audition will be talked about soon.

The Game

  • LSU came into this game flat-out embarrassed after the Kentucky debacle followed the greatest games in LSU history. LSU was still very much alive at No. 5 in the polls, but needed an emphatic statement win over rival Auburn to convince the national media of that.
  • Auburn came in at No. 18 with two stunning losses to South Florida and Mississippi State. That’s right, Auburn got Croomed. But they came out of that funk and upset Florida and skirted by Arkansas, which was scary to LSU fans.
  • At the time, Auburn-LSU was probably the best ongoing rivalry in the country. Over a decade later we still talk about the mid-aughts Tiger Bowls and we will in 20 years. These games were the most physical games in the country between two physical football teams that were almost exact mirrors of each other and it often decided who won the SEC west. There really isn’t a marquee matchup that’s the same as this rivalry was at it’s peak, but Ohio State-Michigan is on track to become as competitive, even if the offensive styles are different.
  • The Earthquake Game. The Bring Back The Magic Game. The Barn Burner. The Cigar Game. John Vaughn Game I & John Vaughn Game II. The Pass Interference Game. Odds are this game was going to have something memorable in it, as half of the Auburn-LSU games did to this point. All you could hope was that it went in favor of your side...
  • [6:30] Wait, Perry Farrell was really on ESPN? How did I forget about this? Also, the song is bad.
  • [7:00] Oh cool 50 Cent, this segment wasn’t quite mid-00’s enough. Oh it’s presented by Pontiac, by the way. RIP.
  • [10:30] David Toms! Golf jokes! This is fun, I like having fun.
  • [11:27] On third and 8, Brandon Cox has one...two...three...four...four seconds in the pocket. It’s hard to hold coverage for that long and he finds Rod Smith for a first.
  • [13:00] In a cruel twist of foreshadowing, Glenn Dorsey comes up with a limp after a play where he was not involved at all.
  • [13:45] And...there it is again. No foul play.
  • [14:50] This is the Auburn-LSU Rivalry at this point. Play-action pass to the RB Brad Lester goes for six yards until he is stood up by Ali Highsmith. Pads will be popped early and often, so tighten up that chinstrap.
  • [17:50] A methodical opening drive is capped off by a 17-yard lame duck pass from Cox to Montez Billings who is streaking across the endzone. 7-0 Auburn.
  • [19:25] That is, how you say, a blatant late hit.
  • [20:22] MATT DAMON
  • [20:30] Not convinced Richard Dickson isn’t Donnie Darko. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THEM IN THE SAME ROOM TOGETHER?
  • [20:35] Thaaaaaaat’s racist

[20:40] HEY DID YOU KNOW THAT HERMAN JOHNSON IS THE LARGEST BABY BORN IN THE STATE OF LOUISIANA

  • [21:35] Matt Flynn, dual-threat quarterback.
  • [24:50] Coach Boom himself forces LSU off the field after Flynn’s scramble for a first down. LSU fails to answer Auburn’s touchdown.
  • [27:30] Brandon Cox nearly gets a first down with the pinball scramble technique. LSU forces a three and out.
  • [29:00] Matt Flynn, dual thre...nevermind.
  • [30:30] What a dime from Flynn my goodness.
  • [31:00] And that conversion keeps the drive alive for a dinky little screen pass to Keiland Williams. It’s blocked downfield juuuust well enough for Williams to get a lane and turn on the jets and then it’s over. Auburn got caught in man coverage and it’s a tie ball game, 7-all.
  • [33:10] GLENN DORSEY MY GOD. He completely banished Chaz Ramsey to the upside down.
  • [34:30] LSU runs an overload blitz to the back side of the Auburn protection and it ends with two LSU linebackers in the backfield, which is usually preferable. Auburn to punt.
  • [37:10] And Auburn stuffs Hester, killing LSU’s drive. Man that was a long quarter.
  • [41:00] Dorsey once agains blows up a play, but it’s going away from him. Still there to pile on.
  • [41:45] Mario Fannin shows some very impressive tough running on a screen pass of his own, breaking two tackles. Darry Beckwith cramps up.
  • [43:30] Toss plays on third and short: not even once.
  • [45:25] Perrilloux makes a nice read on the option, but gets hit while his ball arm is on a downswing. Powers picks up the loose ball and carries the ball all the way to the LSU 4, where he is stopped by Trindon Holliday of all people. After two stands, the fullback Stewart goes over the top to put the Navy Tigers ahead 14-7.
  • [52:00] Again, Flynn isn’t great but if you give him an opportunity to run he can make it hurt. He’s as good as he needs to be. A decade later, LSU’s main need remains the same.
  • [55:50] A delay and a run into a blitz followed by a dropped pass put LSU behind the eight ball despite being in Auburn territory, out of field goal range and too close for a pinning punt. Flynn is sacked on third and 17. But a positive side of the sack is that LSU is pushed back far enough for the punt to be downed at the five.
  • [58:30] But Cox bails Auburn out on a comeback route to Billings.
  • [59:50] Man, Lester was beasting in the first half of this game. That’s kind of been forgotten with time and given how this game ended.
  • [1:02:00] Billings is open on the out route, and Zenon takes a bad angle. Billings rumbles for 35 yards and Auburn has now crept from their five yard line to right outside the red zone.
  • [1:04:40] Remember when every school tried the two-QB system after Florida did it? ohhhhhhh i member.
  • [1:07:40] Auburn stalls out, but they leave the red zone with three points. 17-7 Auburn.
  • [1:09:40] With the clock working against them, LSU hits a screen for a first down to Richard Murphy, but confusion sets in and LSU has to burn a time out after a completion short of the sticks.
  • [1:13:10] And Flynn is sacked to end the half. Pretty anti-climatic.
  • [1:40:25] On third and long, Flynn sees a blitz and fires into triple coverage. It’s okay because Early Doucet is there to bail LSU out.
  • [1:41:10] And then LSU chains that up with a reverse to Toliver, who gets in the red zone following a serviceable block from Matt Flynn.
  • [1:44:40] LSU stalls out in the red zone and settles for a field goal to bring it back down to one possession. 17-10.
  • [1:47:40] Auburn does the committee return, and it works to some degree. Auburn gets out to the 40 after the gamble pays off. One of the more inventive plays in football, but also by far one of the most rare.
  • [1:49:50] But LSU gets a sack and PBU to put the brakes on the Auburn drive.
  • [1:58:00] LSU gets bailed out of a punt with an offsides to keep the drive alive.
  • [1:59:30] Perrilloux made a very bad decision that nearly kills LSU. To make things even more dicey, LSU has to call a timeout to sort out some confusion, leaving them with one more left in the half. Not great, Bob!
  • [2:03:20] And then, it gets worse. Flynn finds LaFell, and despite being wide open he tips the ball in the air and Patrick Lee comes down with the interception.
  • [2:05:00] Lester slips out to a flat after a play-action counter for a first down. Really slick play, but Cox misses a wide open receiver going across the middle of the field. Could have been much worse for LSU.
  • [2:07:00] ...I understand what he was trying to say, but the way Penn Wagers said it was immensely stupid.
  • [2:11:30] LSU takes the penalty to make it 2nd and 14, but Auburn converts anyway. At this point, Auburn is rolling deep with the momentum.
  • [2:13:10] And...there it is. I’m not going to spill any more ink about the play after this: It was blatantly illegal and the replay shows there was intent and malice behind it. Plain and simple.
  • [2:15:30] Good return from Chad Jones, but he nearly gives it away. Fortunately for LSU, Chevis Jackson was there to fall on it.
  • [2:16:30] LSU dials up the play action bomb and it works to perfect, a 57-yard strike from Flynn to Byrd to put LSU within smelling distance of the goal line. On the next play, Doucet nearly makes every highlight reel ever. The next two plays...woof. LSU has to settle for a field goal, 17-13 Auburn.
  • [2:22:00] ouuuuu member when Walk-Ons was good?
  • [2:24:15] Chad Jones drops the second straight punt and again, this game is nearly put out of reach for LSU.
  • [2:26:00] LSU opens the drive and closes out the third quarter with a sharp throw from Flynn and a nice gashing run from Charles Scott.
  • [2:30:00] Flynn hits Dickson on back to back plays, and on the first play I feel like they just forgot about him until the ball left Flynn’s hands. An Auburn DB tries to lay the hit stick but whiffs completely, setting up a YACA opportunity for Dickson.
  • [2:31:10] Holliday nearly scores on the sweep, but just runs out of room to operate. These kind of plays makes you wonder why Les didn’t go to Holliday more later on in his career.
  • [2:33:35] Man, that is just an effort play by Hester. He knows he’s going to get hit in mid air, when you’re most vulnerable, and he does it anyway. 20-17 LSU.
  • [2:37:00] And Tubbs is mad about it.
  • [2:44:25] Vintage Jacob Hester run...out of the shotgun. LSU follows that up with a swing pass to Doucet for back to back first downs.
  • [2:46:50] Another one. Flynn gets drilled but finds Doucet for a third consecutive first down.
  • [2:47:25] And two keepers, one from Perrilloux and one from Flynn, kill the momentum for the home-standing Tigers.
  • [2:49:00] Doucet nearly picks up a first on a desperation pass from Flynn against the blitz, but LSU has to settle for another field goal. 23-17 LSU.
  • [2:53:00] Helmet to helmet contact gives Auburn a 15-yard push downfield to jump-start their drive down the field.
  • [2:54:00] Man, that was purty play fake from Cox. Jackson bit on it hard and it resulted in a streaking Auburn Tiger down the sideline.
  • [2:58:25] Luke Sanders gets matchup with Lester and Lester wins that matchup with a cross-field scamper that puts Auburn inside the 10. As noted on the broadcast, Craig Steltz saves the day momentarily.
  • [3:00:05] The goal line fade never works, except for when it does. 24-23 Auburn.
  • [3:01:40] This is where Tuberville and Auburn lost the game. Yes Holliday and Jones are dangerous (more Holliday than Jones) but...LSU only needs a field goal to win. Why squib and give them good field position? That is the absolute wrong call there. You tell your kicker to give it all his leg has, outkicking the coverage be damned.
  • [3:02:20] And Flynn nearly gets halfway to field goal range with a scramble that is good for a first down. Another one gets him within five yard or so from reasonable field goal range.
  • [3:04:45] I think that’s a bad spot. But we’ll chalk it up to Karma for the chop block.
  • [3:06:45] Jacob Hester toss dive, be still my beating heart.
  • [3:08:10] Just letting you know, right here is where I can recite the rest of the broadcast by heart.
  • [3:08:40] Time to insert myself into the story! This was the last game I did as a volunteer stretcher bearer, and my neon green shirt and I were lucky enough to be sitting in one of the purple boxes in the student section. Before the play, there was that nervous chatter among everybody as the entire stadium just kind of expected LSU to spike it or call timeout. Nobody was ready for any real action, especially a throw to the end zone. And then when everybody saw Flynn drop back, I swear on my grave 92,000 tried their best to form a “WHAT” but only a few managed to get it out in time. Live, the ball hung up in the air for what felt like an eternity and to this day I have never heard the stadium so quiet, and that is counting the times I painted the field before games on Friday mornings. The pass was immaculate, and it needed to be because as Todd Blackledge points out, an incomplete pass ends the game. The Auburn defender played it perfectly and had his arm on it, but Byrd managed to rip it away from him while turning his body to secure the catch. The throw and the catch were absolutely perfect, which you honestly rarely see, especially in a situation like this. And then there was a frantic explosion and pure, unbridled chaos was set loose upon Death Valley and Baton Rouge.
  • There is a conspiracy floating around that Les himself did not call the fake spike. I don’t believe that for a second, Travis Dickson runs a crossing route across the field and I don’t think that’s something you just make up. Now, I will give credit to the thought that the play was supposed to be called earlier. If Auburn calls a timeout, then that play would not have been ran because yeah, why would LSU have ran a fake spike out of a timeout? I think the gameplan was to wait and see if Auburn calls a timeout, but they waited a touch too long in doing so. Tuberville is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t in this situation because if he blinks first and calls timeout, then LSU keeps their final one and they take the field goal shot to go ahead. If he doesn’t, well, this happens. But I think what happened is that, shocker, LSU wasn’t paying as much attention to the clock as they shouldn’t have. The hole in this logic is that if LSU lines up in a spike formation, why would Tuberville call a timeout? LSU is about to stop the clock themselves. No matter how you cut it, it doesn’t make sense logically but damn if that isn’t Les Miles for you.
  • Given how we now know the season ended with a two loss LSU lifting a trophy that a three loss LSU doesn’t get to play for, we can say that Mike Patrick was right. This was the call of the year.