AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Eric Brock's instructions were simple and
altogether appropriate for the final play of Auburn's latest
slugfest with LSU.
"The coaches told us anything we see in front of us, you hit
it," the Auburn safety said.
There will be few smiling faces in Baton Rouge in the wake of LSU's heartbreaking 7-3 loss to Auburn. But if the Tigers choose to look for a silver lining, they can always focus on their defense. For the fourth straight game, Les Miles' defensive unit held its opponent to single-digit points and under 200 yards of total offense. Unfortunately for LSU, that wasn't enough at Auburn.
Brock's game-saving tackle just a few yards from the goal line
on the final play preserved No. 3 Auburn's 7-3 win over
sixth-ranked LSU on Saturday. He also tipped away a fourth-down
pass to end another late LSU threat as Auburn turned away the
visiting Tigers again and again.
What has become the Southeastern Conference's most rugged
rivalry had all the usual elements: two punishing defenses, an
pivotal officials' call that left both sides a bit perplexed and
some follies in the kicking game.
The call went Auburn's way.
With LSU facing fourth-and-8 from Auburn's 31 and 2:43 left,
JaMarcus Russell fired the ball to Early Doucet near the goal line.
A diving Brock deflected the pass, but Zach Gilbert was called for
pass interference that would have kept the drive alive.
The officials overturned the call, although replays showed the
contact came before the ball was tipped by Brock.
"I got sick to my stomach," said Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville
about seeing the flag. "I still don't understand it. It's just a
judgment call and thank goodness it went our way."
LSU coach Les Miles wasn't happy with the change.
"If the ball is tipped at the line of scrimmage, there is no
pass interference," said Miles, also unhappy with a pass
interference call against his team. "The ball was tipped
downfield. The proper explanation will be forthcoming."
Auburn (3-0, 2-0) got the ball but LSU's defense stopped Kenny
Irons on three straight runs. Irons had 70 yards on 25 tough
The visiting Tigers (2-1, 0-1) drove to Auburn's 24 with 2.5
seconds left as Russell hooked up with Craig Davis for gains of 20
and 21 yards and Dwayne Bowe for 21. On the final play, Russell
went to Davis again. The receiver caught the pass inside the 10,
but Brock stopped him cold with a jarring hit at the 4.
"It was a low throw on the final play, but it was not JaMarcus'
fault," Davis said. "I was expecting it to be a jump ball in the
Only then could Auburn fans celebrate, their national title
hopes healthy. The win, coupled with No. 2 Notre Dame's 47-21 loss
to Michigan, could push Auburn up to No. 2 in the rankings.
"This was a statement game right here," Auburn cornerback
David Irons said. "It let everyone know we're for real."
The defense certainly is. LSU had five drives inside Auburn
territory end with no points in the lowest scoring game at Auburn
It's the first time since 1972 these teams have met with both
ranked in the Top 10 lived up to its billing -- mostly thanks to a
pair of blitzing defenses.
"It was a very violent game," Tuberville said. "There was
more speed than I've seen on the field in a long time. It's hard to
find a loser in that game.
"Our guys played like champions. When you look at the score and
the stats, everybody would think it was a boring game but there was
a lot of excitement."
Auburn's hoping recent history repeats itself. Five times in the
last six years, the winner of this game has won the Western
Division title. The last three meetings have been decided by a
combined eight points, with Auburn winning two of them.
Not surprisingly in this series, LSU's 3-0 halftime lead was
based on two field goals: John Vaughn's 26-yard miss for Auburn and
Colt David's 42-yarder to end the half.
Vaughn, who missed five field goals in last year's overtime loss
to LSU, sent the short attempt bouncing off the left upright with
4:15 left in the half.
Auburn finally scored on Cox's 1-yard sneak with 4:53 left in
the third quarter to end a a methodical, 12-play drive powered by
the tackle-breaking Irons and completions of 17 and 19 yards by
Cox. He was surprised by the call.
"I don't think we've ever run that quarterback sneak on the
goal line," said Cox, held to just 110 yards passing with an
interception. "Usually it's Kenny right and Kenny left. The call
kind of surprised me."
LSU hadn't allowed a touchdown since last year's SEC
championship game, a string of 16-plus quarters.