AUBURN, Ala . — Where there was supposed to be comedy, there was drama.
When there was supposed to be domination, there was desperation.
What was supposed to be an easy stroll through the Auburn campus for No. 2 LSU, facing about as much opposition as an RV full of octogenarians, turned into white-knuckled four-act play on the high Plains.
LSU held on for a 12-10 win over a struggling Auburn team, kneecapping itself time and again with momentum-changing turnovers and critical, undisciplined penalties.
It was the only way three-touchdown underdog Auburn was going to stay in the game, and LSU obliged.
LSU left folks from Las Vegas to Lockport dissatisfied and questioning just how good these Tigers are. They were supposed to crush Auburn like a wave of Soviet tanks rolling into Czechoslovakia and instead had to fight their way out of town in a game that almost turned into Mettenberger’s last stand.
What should we have expected, honestly?
Exactly this. That’s what.
This was a Southeastern Conference road game for LSU at Auburn, a place more like Little Big Horn than Prague. Auburn is down, but it still has pride. On a tense, sweaty September Saturday night, pride nearly carried Auburn to what would have been a signature upset.
Yes, Zach Mettenberger has now committed momentum-changing turnovers two games in a row (his second fumble set up Auburn’s only touchdown). Yes, as Auburn’s Corey Lemonier proved, LSU has big issues moving forward at left tackle with the absence of Chris Faulk in dealing with other premier SEC defensive ends. And, yes, LSU committed and egregious number of penalties (nine for 80 yards), a parade of flags that landed at the feet of a team that, as even Les Miles said afterward, clearly lost its poise.
But it didn’t lose the game. Key point.
The cult of comparative scores and unproven expectations is the bane of college football and our modern media-bloated age. LSU was supposed to lay a suffocating Eastern Bloc invasion on an Auburn team that was drummed at Mississippi State and nearly got beat by ULM. But people forgot this was also the Auburn team that was tied with Clemson going into the fourth quarter, a Clemson team that gave Florida State a tussle Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla.
Let the speculation run wild that this win (LSU did win, right?) will cost the Tigers in the polls.
What is this, Obama vs. Romney? It’s still only September. Polls matter relatively little. If LSU wins the game it has in front of it, it will wind up in the top two at the end. If it doesn’t, it won’t matter if LSU is No. 2 or No. 3 or No. 4 on the fourth Saturday in September.
So wheel in the microscope. Let the dissection begin. Let the dissenters’ tongues wag. Let Paul Finebaum go on his radio show next week and give Les Miles a nasty taunting.
Words matter little. Final scores do. And as for LSU’s worries, 1-3 Auburn should have such troubles.
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