Close win over Auburn is No. 3 LSU's reality check

Associated Press Modified: September 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm •  Published: September 23, 2012
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Zach Mettenberger smartly qualified his attempt to place perspective on LSU's narrow win over Auburn.

The junior quarterback, in his first year as a starter, called Saturday night's 12-10 win "the biggest game of my life so far."

The key words in Mettenberger's appraisal were "so far." Much bigger games are coming soon for the Tigers, who are 4-0 but dropped a spot to No. 3 Sunday in The Associated Press Top 25.

LSU plays Towson this week before starting an imposing string of Southeastern Conference games on Oct. 6 at Florida. The Tigers then play South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama and Mississippi State.

Coach Les Miles says LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) must improve after struggling offensively against Auburn, which has an overtime victory over Louisiana-Monroe as its only win.

"We were sloppy," Miles said. "It's interesting, we practice the ability not to have penalties, but what happens is guys lose their poise. This is a tremendous lesson for us which is something that we'll certainly be able to teach from in a very aggressive manner."

Miles said his defense "played extremely well," especially in the second half. The offense was flat as Mettenberger lost two fumbles.

LSU's powerful running game was held to 182 yards — good for most teams but almost 100 yards below the Tigers' league-leading average.

Perhaps the most encouraging drive for LSU's offense didn't produce any points.

The Tigers took possession with 4:17 remaining. LSU needed first downs to run down the clock and prevent Auburn from having the opportunity to attempt a game-winning field goal.

On third-and-4, Mettenberger rolled right and then threw back to Spencer Ware for a 33-yard gain to the Auburn 34. Kenny Hilliard added an 11-yard run for another first down.

Drew Alleman missed a 34-yard field goal, but the first downs left Auburn with only 39 seconds for a drive which started at the Auburn 20 and ended with Kiehl Frazier's second interception.

The throwback pass was the highlight of the game for Mettenberger, who completed 15 of 26 passes for 169 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

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