LSU survives in overtime, has inside track to national title game

Louisiana State University quarterback Jordan Jefferson (L) crack up with teammate center back Tyrann Mathieu after beating the University of Kentucky at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana October 1, 2011. Jefferson was just released from suspension by LSU this week. REUTERS/Dan Anderson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Defense and kickers, that’s what might have just decided the national championship. LSU survived a 9-6 overtime slugfest tonight against Alabama in a matchup of the top two teams in the country.

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but that doesn’t mean it was bad football. Quite the contrary, actually. These are two defenses unlike many we’ve seen in college football, and that’s fun to watch. They’re big, they’re fast and they’re physical. And let’s remember, when these two teams aren’t playing each other, the offenses do just fine.

The key in this one wound up being Alabama’s ineptitude in overtime, as the Tide went backwards and were forced to try a 52-yard field goal, which missed, um, poorly. LSU merely had to run the ball and set up a field goal on its possession, and it did, kicking a 25-yard game winner from the center of the field.

But A.J. McCarron struggled all game long, and Nick Saban showed late the lack of confidence he had in his quarterback by not calling a timeout with a little less than 2 minutes left and LSU set to punt it away. A coach that’s confident in his quarterback and offense calls that timeout and gives them a chance to drive for a game-winning field goal. Saban sat on his timeout and played for overtime.

Now, unless there aren’t any unbeaten teams remaining, there’s no chance we get a rematch here, nor should we. While I feel these are the country’s two top teams, they’re certainly not unbeatable, not with those quarterbacks. If either team runs into a situation where its defense is struggling against a good team, it’s in a lot of trouble. Do you trust McCarron, Jarrett Lee or Jordan Jefferson to bring a team back at the end of a game? I don’t.

That said, would you bet on either defense failing? I wouldn’t.

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Rueben Randle helps LSU torch Auburn

Louisiana State University wide receiver Rueben Randle (2) runs into the end zone while scoring on a touchdown pass against Auburn University during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana October 22, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Watch Rueben run. That’s basically what the Auburn defense did best today, as Rueben Randle caught 5 passes for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns in top-ranked LSU’s 45-10 thrashing of Auburn. Randle caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee and a 42-yard scoring pass from Jordan Jefferson.

LSU has had mini-scandals all season with players getting suspended for games, but the Tigers keep brushing off these distractions. For this game against Auburn, LSU was without stud corner Tyrann Mathieu, leading rusher Spencer Ware and defensive back Tharold Simon. The defense didn’t miss a beat as they held Auburn to only ten points.

Now LSU gets a bye week next week and then they’ll face Alabama for one of the biggest games of the year on November 5th.

2009 CFB Preview: LSU Tigers

Check out our other 2009 college football previews.

Preseason Ranking: No. 11 in AP Top 25; No. 9 in USA Today Poll.

Key Returning Players: Charles Scott (RB); Keiland Williams (RB); Jarrett Lee (QB); Brandon LaFell (WR); Richard Dickson (WR); Ciron Black (OT); Harry Coleman (S); Chad Jones (S); Danny McCray (S); Rahim Alem (DE); Charles Alexander (DT); Kelvin Sheppard (LB); Perry Riley (LB); Chris Hawkins (CB); Jai Eugene (CB).

Key Losses: Tyson Jackson (DE); Ricky Jean-Francois (DT); Darry Beckwith (LB); Demetrius Byrd (WR); Colt David (K); Marlon Favorite (DT); Brett Helms (C); Herman Johnson (G); Curtis Taylor (S); Tremaine Johnson (DE); Quinn Johnson (FB); Kirston Pittman (DE).

Player to Watch: Charles Scott, RB.
After racking up 1,174 yards on 217 carries and 18 touchdowns last season, Scott proved to be a star in the making. The thundering back will once again be the backbone of the Tigers’ offense and is coming off a solid showing in the Tigers’ spring game in April. Head coach Les Miles also says that this year’s version of the offensive line will be the best blocking unit since he’s been at LSU, which is another reason to love Scott’s potential in ’09.

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Backup QB Jarrett Lee leads LSU over Auburn 26-21

Jarrett LeeLSU-Auburn lived up to the hype as LSU beat its SEC brethren 26-21 at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night.

LSU backup quarterback Jarrett Lee was forced into the game after starter Andrew Hatch came out of the game after getting his bell run early in the second half. Lee actually had relieved Hatch in the second quarter, but was 0 for 5 on his first five passes and was intercepted by Gabe McKenzie, who returned it 24 yards for a touchdown.

But Lee completed his first pass of the game, a 16-yard completion to Richard Dickson, when he replaced the injured Hatch early in the third quarter. Three plays later Lee, who was hit right before releasing the ball, connected with Mitchell for a 39-yard touchdown to cut Auburn’s deficit to 14-10. With less than two minutes remaining in the game and Auburn 21-20, Lee completed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell, which wound up being the game-winning score for LSU.

This game started off like many expected – a defensive struggle. Neither team’s quarterbacks could make plays in the first half, but once things got rolling, the second half was filled with exciting moments. While he did throw two interceptions in the game, Auburn QB Chris Todd finished with respectable numbers (17 of 32 passing for 250 yards) and a completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Robert Dunn, which at that point gave AU a 21-20 lead.

This game was again proved how superior the SEC is to any other conference. The top game in the ACC today, No. 18 Wake Forest vs. No. 24 Florida State, was a turnover-laden mess (which the Deacons won 12-3, by the way). And no game in the Big Ten or Pac 10 (USC was off again?!) was exciting, outside of maybe OSU QB Terrelle Pryor’s four-touchdown performance over unranked Troy. With the way Auburn and LSU went at it Saturday night, it’s hard to argue that any other college football conference produces the talent-level the SEC does. Some of the hits in this game were NFL-caliber.

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