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Brian Kelly's LSU strolled into Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium as double digit favorites on a three game winning streak, facing a listless squad led by their dead man walking head coach and a toxic environment pointing to his impending ouster.

But as our game previews pointed out, this is college football, the craziest game out there and tonight proves once again just why LSU-Auburn is one of the SEC's ultimate matchups.

LSU bled out their fourth straight win under Brian Kelly 21-17, their first on the road, all while fighting back against insurmountable odds, bizarre circumstances, a tragic opening play injury and all manner of calamity.

On the first play of the game, cornerback Sevyn Banks made a tackle with the crown of his helmet on the opening kickoff, falling to the field unconscious with a concussion or head/neck injury.

It was a scary moment as Banks was stretchered away; luckily, the best case scenario has played out and Banks is doing better than expected, released from the hospital after passing concussion tests.

Perhaps a little shaken up from the horror of Banks' injury, LSU's defense, the MVP on the night once again, unthinkably surrendered 17 early points and allowed freshman QB Robby Ashford to toss 337 yards.

But they weren't helped by Mike Denbrock's inept, one dimensional offense.

The Tigers' offensive unit suffered for most of the game yet again, incapable of throwing the football as Jayden Daniels finished 8/20 for 80 yards. Most drives ended in Jay Bramblett punting the ball, LSU's offense now completely reliant on the legs of Josh Williams, John Emery Jr and Daniels to score points and earn first downs.

Then, even Daniels himself was sidelined with 10 minutes and 43 seconds left in the 4th quarter, botching his slide and roughing up his lower leg and ushering in red shirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier.

Further highlighting the improbability of their escape act, LSU also survived a late 4th quarter turnover, poor field position for much of the night, or a lack of explosive offensive plays, still...somehow, some way, Brian Kelly's Tigers are 4-1 after their gritty road win.

Matt House's relentless defense played a starring role as expected, turning their fortunes around after going down 17-0.

Following a strong stop in the red zone, holding Auburn to a field goal, House's defense directly orchestrated LSU's comeback thanks to the play of the game: BJ Ojulari's strip sack, recovered by Jay Ward for the outrageous scoop and score.

Suddenly, the game flipped.

Right before halftime, LSU momentum surged as the Tigers capped off an 11 play, 77 yard drive in 1 minute and 41 seconds with Jayden Daniels' sneaky keeper touchdown run, draining the energy out of Auburn's crowd on the cusp of intermission.

Though Saturday's second half only provided one more touchdown for LSU and an impossible rollercoaster finish, it would be all Kelly & Co would need to get on the plane home carrying a major road win.

Only throwing for 5 total passing yards during the entire second half, QB Jayden Daniels endured a woeful night, with lead receivers Kayshon Boutte and Jack Bech combining for a total 4 targets, 2 catches and 6 yards on the night; Cortez Hankton's entire receiving corps totaled just 32 yards....

Instead, running back John Emery Jr's 39 yard catch alongside a powerful tackle-breaking, game winning 20 yard touchdown eruption stood as the Tigers' biggest offensive moments.

Without Auburn's trio of late turnovers or Ojulari, Ward, Perkins, Wingo and Brooks Jr leading a smothering defense, would Tiger fans still be celebrating a win on Saturday???

Thanks to 3 fourth quarter turnovers from Auburn, as well as a pair of kamikaze 4th and 10, 4th and 11 calls by Auburn Head Coach (he might not be there when you read this) Bryan Harsin, Kelly's Tigers showcased mental toughness, ball hawking abilities and an innate will to win:

Jarrick Bernard-Converse seized on a muffed punt for a big fumble recovery in Auburn territory, Harold Perkins intercepted former Tiger WR Koy Moore's duck during a trick play gone awry, and Greg Brooks Jr stole the football out of the hands of an Auburn receiver with enough swagger and aggressive brilliance the Honeybadger himself would be proud.

Despite collecting 3 turnovers, running back John Emery Jr fumbled immediately after Jarrick Bernard-Converse recovered the muffed punt, handing Auburn a chance to win the game.

Instead, Greg Brooks Jr shut the door, stealing the ball and hearts of Auburn's stunned crowd, faces distraught after yet another collapse within Harsin's tumultuous tenure. From leading 17-0 to LSU's second half shutout of Auburn, Saturday night was a defensive masterclass in turning around adversity from Matt House's wondrous crew.

It was yet another wild entry in the SEC's most bizarre series...with Brian Kelly and his staff making a statement to the college football world within their first season together:

If this LSU team can pick up wins, grind out results, dig deep when things are at their worst, fight through injuries, absences, poor performances or frustration, still finding the mettle to survive and advance, then one can imagine once Kelly's top 5 recruiting classes of 2023 & 2024 combine alongside 2022 and 2021's playmaking young guns, then LSU could soon be celebrating a lot more than an escape against a fractured program & soon to be fired head coach.

But in LSU-Auburn, a win is a win.....enjoy it!




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