Z. Mettenberger threw for 229 yards (US Presswire)
No. 6 LSU overcame rainy conditions to come away with a 35-21 victory against Auburn in its SEC opener. Behind a big game from Jeremy Hill and some timely turnovers, the Tigers move to 4-0 to start the season.
No. 6 LSU didn’t let a “stiff dew” ¬— note it didn’t rain in Tiger Stadium according to Les Miles — prevent them from coming away with a 35-21 victory against Auburn in its SEC opener.
The home Tigers jumped out to a 21-0 first-half lead, then held off a late Auburn charge in the second half to secure the victory. Behind a dominant rushing attack from Jeremy Hill, the offense kept its distance despite the defense surrendering 333 yards in the final two quarters.
With steady rain causing the expected sloppiness, LSU still managed to continue its perfect start.
“It never rains on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium,” Miles said. “But it was very close to rain, if not a very stiff dew out there. We had some flexibility in our offense that allowed us to do the things that we needed to do.”
The momentum quickly swung LSU’s way to open the game, when Lamin Barrow recovered a fumbled handoff near midfield on Auburn’s opening possession. LSU scored three plays later on a 49-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Hill, the first of three he had on the night.
The LSU defense forced a three-and-out on the next Auburn series, and a botched snap on the ensuing punt set up the Tigers at the Auburn 10-yard line.
Hill took it in on the next play, getting his second touchdown in as many carries. He would score once more in the third quarter, but nearly had a fourth when his 54-yard run in the second quarter came up a yard short of the end zone.
He finished with 184 yards rushing, the highest total for a LSU back since 2004.
“He looked pretty good to me,” Miles said. “He ran hard. It’s nice to have him back.”
LSU came out of halftime with a 21-0 lead and possession, but a rare LSU miscue gave Auburn a chance to strike first. On LSU’s first play of the half, Zach Mettenberger threw to Jarvis Landry in tight coverage, and Jermaine Whitehead wrestled it away from the junior receiver, resulting in Mettenberger’s first interception of the season.
Auburn scored on that next series on a two-yard touchdown run by Tre Mason.
The LSU offense answered right back though on Hill’s third TD of the game. That proved to be a theme, as LSU followed both of Auburn’s third-quarter touchdowns with scores of its own.
Auburn reached pay-dirt again on a Tre Mason run, but Jarvis Landry, who led the team with 118 receiving yards, scored for LSU on the next possession with a 32-yard catch and run.
Auburn did cut the deficit to 14 midway through the fourth quarter. LSU had two chances to ice the clock, but three-and-outs each time gave the visitors life late in the game.
But the defense held off one last charge, stopping Auburn on fourth down inside the red zone to finally seal the victory. Still, the offense’s inability to control the end of the game resonated with Miles after the game.
“The only thing you want to have happen is you want to finish the game on offense,” Miles said. “You want keep the ball, move the clock, get first downs. Have a nice orderly finish. That is not what I’d consider orderly.”
The Tigers can now hang their hat on a 4-0 start, but they’ll face their stiffest challenge next week against No. 9 Georgia in Athens.
“We can play better,” Miles said. “We need to control these games…We need to take care of our business and [improve], and we’ll be pretty good. We’re undefeated and looking forward to the next one.”
For more notes and commentary from Saturday's victory, check out the TSD Game Thread at the link below:
Game Thread: LSU vs. Auburn
For even more coverage from LSU's victory, check out this HD video in which D.J. Welter discusses his big night on defense.
HD Video: DJ Welter discusses big night