AUBURN — Auburn’s Josh Bynes and Nick Fairley happily arrived at the LSU quarterback for a sack.
“`I got half of it,”’ Bynes told Fairley.
Alas, the big defensive lineman begged to differ.
“He tried to take all of it. He always says, `Josh, when I get back there, I’m going to try to take everything.’
Auburn’s defense showed plenty of competitiveness Saturday, helping the Tigers beat previously-unbeaten LSU 24-17 and, in doing so, beating LSU at its own game. LSU came to Jordan-Hare Stadium leading the SEC in total defense. They exited after Auburn set a school record for the most rushing yards ever in an SEC game, and with a hot Cam Newton, who set a SEC single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
He’s done it in just eight games.
Newton rushed for 217 yards and scored two touchdowns. He ran over LSU’s defense when necessary, leaped a fence around the field to celebrate with his fans when it was over, and, generally continued to make his case for the Heisman Trophy. By the time Auburn was through, 440 of its 526 yards were by the run.
No. 5 Auburn beat No. 6 LSU to emerge as the SEC’s only unbeaten team, now at 8-0 overall and 5-0 in league play. Newton is the reason why. He set the Auburn single-season record by having a hand in 27 touchdowns to break the record that Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan set in 1970. He is also having the best season ever by an SEC quarterback running the ball. He’s at 1,077 yards with at least five games to play.
There were more points to be made: Wes Byrum kicked a 42-yard field goal to become the school’s all-time leading scorer, and now has 315 points. Onterio McCalebb’s 70-yard touchdown run with 5:05 was the game-winner.
And through it all the defense – which came in ranked toward the bottom of the SEC – beat back LSU when the game was on the line, just as it has beaten back opponents in the fourth quarter of every big, and almost-assuredly, close game.
The Tigers held on despite coming in the game short-handed because of injuries in the secondary, and then by losing more players as the game went on.
“We were playing with true freshmen. We were playing with walk-ons,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik. “We were just fighting, clawing and scrapped our way to playing well.”
Auburn allowed a tying touchdown in the fourth quarter on a halfback pass, but no more. Auburn has allowed only 18 points to five SEC opponents in the fourth quarter.
LSU finished with 243 yards.