SEC Week 8 Recap

So that was fun. Just another year in the LSU / Auburn rivalry where little plays out as expected. And, this year, LSU comes out on top and is in the driver”s seat of the SEC West. A win over Fonzie in two weeks and LSU is practically guaranteed a spot in the SEC Championship Game. And holding the No. 3 BCS spot right now sets the table for LSU to make the BCS National Championship Game by going 5-0 from here out.

It”s difficult to remember much of what happened in the Auburn game prior to the game-winning touchdown (with 4 seconds left), but the short story:

- LSU gave up 296 yards of offense to Auburn, with 82 of those yards coming on Auburn”s late-game go-ahead drive. Auburn managed only three good drives in the game (including the most-impressive 90-yard touchdown drive late in the second quarter), which accounted for 79 percent of their yards gained. For a beat-up, tired, illegally-chop-blocked LSU defense, not a bad showing. After eight straight weeks on the field, LSU is ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense and No. 6 in scoring defense (even with a 3-OT, 43-point give to Kentucky factored in). Lee Corso may not be impressed with the Tigers” D, but I am.

- LSU dropped 488 yards of offense on Auburn, a team that”s used to giving up 305 a game. Matt Flynn had his first 300-yard passing game and spread the ball out to eight different receivers. Eight different guys also carried the ball during the game, which was good use of the Tigers” depth on offense. The play calling was a little bland at times, but ultimately it was an effective gameplan.

- Flynn being mobile again was huge, especially on the final touchdown pass. Auburn left Demetrius Byrd in single-coverage so their safeties could watch Flynn and the LSU backs to keep the expected field goal try at 39-40 yards, not 29-30 yards. A gimpy Flynn doesn”t earn that defensive respect, and Ryan Perrilloux likely would not have been trusted to make a throw in that situation. Coupled with the return of Early Doucet, the mobility of Flynn was a huge factor in LSU”s win.

Overall, LSU played exceptionally well against a tough Auburn team, especially considering this was the eighth weekend in a row the Tigers have been on the field, and the last two weeks against Florida and Kentucky were draining, bruising games. This week off will be very welcome.

And though I”ve mentioned it before, the facts of the game-winning touchdown pass are worth repeating. It was not “crazy” to run that play. Les Miles was not making an all-or-nothing bet on it.

LSU had time to run the play, and they ran it brilliantly. Had the pass been incomplete, tipped, batted, juggled, fondled or otherwise molested, LSU would have had one, two, three or four seconds left on the clock. The defense Auburn called on the play made an interception highly unlikely and a touchdown catch doable.

Calling a timeout before the play would have clearly signaled to Auburn that LSU was going to make a pitch to the endzone. Doing that would have been risky. What LSU did was take Auburn (and brainless announcers and sports writers) by surprise and ran a high-benefit, low-risk play that just happened to be called done with one second left.

It was brilliant, and Gary Crowton and Les Miles deserve tremendous credit – and zero second guessing by writers who haven”t taken the time to actually analyze what happened – for the call. Demetrius Byrd gets huge points for recognizing the coverage, signaling Crowton for the call and making the catch, and Matt Flynn played the role of game-managing QB to perfection and delivered a perfect pass.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Vandy over South Carolina. Obviously that wasn”t expected, and it”s a bummer. I”d rather not see Florida again in Atlanta.

Alabama put the hammer down on Tennessee, as I predicted. Fonzie”s offense played above their history, but seeing gushing stories like Yahoo”s Jason King”s about Bama”s dominance of the Vols makes me wonder if anybody other than me realized that Tennessee has the worst defense in the SEC. King certainly didn”t see fit to mention that in praising Alabama”s performance – why ruin a good story that includes Fonzie almost seeming human?

Arkansas beat up on Ole Miss and Mississippi State did as expected against West Virginia.

For the week: 5 – 1

For the season: 52 – 11

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