No. 3 Auburn outlasts No. 6 LSU in classic defensive showdown

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.

Valiant in defeat

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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.

YearOpponentPts AllowedYds Allowed










UL Lafayette




Miami (FL)



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

end zone."

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

since 1973.

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.