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Behind the Box Score: Auburn

The refs sure did a lousy job of conspiring against Auburn

LSU v Auburn
This is pass interference
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Sometimes, the box score lies. But it always tells a story, and the story the LSU-Auburn box score tells is one of two evenly matched teams playing a tough game that either team could have won. The box score passes no judgment, but this game really could have gone either way.

2. Auburn turnovers. LSU had a big fat 0 next to its name, and if you want a difference making stat, there it is. Jarrett Stidham threw two interceptions and Auburn was fortunate not to have another fumble added to that total. LSU took care of the football, and those extra possessions paid off. Auburn turned the ball over on its first possession, staking LSU to a 7-0 lead. Turnovers kill.

9-111. Auburn’s penalty totals. In the postgame, Auburn’s major complaint was two pass interference calls. But if Auburn is putting forth its referee conspiracy theory, it needs to account for LSU’s 9 penalties for 91 yards. The box score can’t comment on the validity of the flags, but it does paint of portrait of a game in which the referees threw a bunch of flags on both teams.

LSU was whistled for FIVE personal fouls to Auburn’s one. So when it came to the big calls, the refs sided with Auburn. On the other hand, Auburn did get flagged for pass interference four times to LSU’s one. So the big ticket flags evened out or, if anything, favored Auburn. If the refs were trying to hand LSU the game, they did a rather poor job of it.

69. Nick Brossette’s rushing yards. Nice, I know. Brossette only averaged 3.6 yards a carry, ahead of the team average of 2.9. Let’s give credit where credit is due, Auburn’s run defense shut down LSU’s running game. LSU cannot average less than three yards a carry in SEC play and expect to win games. But also to give credit Brossette found ways to contribute in other ways. He was vital in pass blocking, and he even added a reception.

35:04. LSU time of possession. TOP is not that important of a stat, but it matters more than some statheads give it credit for. LSU had more than 10 more minutes of possession than Auburn, which kept the LSU defense off the field and allowed it to rest. SELA was able to exploit a tired defense. Auburn was able to score a touchdown in the first half after an LSU three and out, but otherwise could not get that same exploitation of a defense that couldn’t get off the field.

15-34. Joe Burrow’s completion ratio. That is fall off the truck ugly. It’s almost impossible to be an effective quarterback while completing less than fifty percent of your passes, but Burrow found a way. Because he also had 0 interceptions and 249 yards. The completion rate was a function of throwing downfield more often, but he needs to complete some of those passes.

3-3. LSU’s red zone conversion rate. Hey, scoring on every red zone passion is nice, but again, you have to score touchdowns. Had LSU lost this game, it would have been because it settled for field goals on two of its three trips inside the 20. When you are on the road, you need to gobble up points when those opportunities arise. Auburn went 3-4 in the red zone, but it scored 21 points. Touchdowns.

1. Auburn sacks. In the run up to the game, the most frequently cited concern for LSU was its offensive line, and specifically its ability to protect the quarterback in the face of Auburn’s fearsome defensive front. Mission accomplished. Auburn managed just one sack on the game, and it came on a 3rd and 10 in the 2nd quarter.

Auburn did manage 7 TFL, but it was fueled by Deshaun Davis, who not only had Auburn’s only sack, but 4 TFL’s. He also had 2 QB hurries, the only player with multiple hurries. Like against Miami, LSU struggles with the one elite player, but tends to handle the overall rush pretty well. The offensive line held its own, a critical win for LSU.

3-4. Cole Tracy’s field goal attempts. He missed from 53 on his first attempt of the game, but it didn’t faze him at all. The kid was money. Kick Tracy is on the case.