In a night when No. 2 LSU's high-scoring offense struggled to score points as often as usual, the defense stepped up in a big way to secure a 23-20 win over the No. 9 Auburn.
LSU (8-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) coach Ed Orgeron credited his defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and players like sophomore nose tackle Tyler Shelvin and senior defensive end Rashard Lawrence for their performances on Saturday.
LSU's defense certainly came to play, holding Auburn to 287 total yards and limiting them to just five-of-18 third downs. While LSU struggled with getting off the field on third down against Florida earlier this season, a clear emphasis was put on staying locked in and preventing long drives.
Of Auburn's 15 drives in the game, the longest was four minutes and seven seconds, while nine of the 15 drives lasted less than two minutes. Other than the touchdown Auburn scored following freshman cornerback Derek Stingley's fumbled punt, LSU held the Tigers to two field goals on three red zone possessions, following the "bend but don't break" mentality they've had all season.
"I thought our guys did tremendous [in the red zone]," Orgeron said. "I wish we could've stopped them on that 4th and inches QB sneak play but overall they did a great job holding them to field goals after those big plays."
The second half proved to be the turning point in the game for LSU's defense as they forced six punts out of the eight drives Auburn had.
The running game had been where Auburn made their hay up to this point in the season, but barring two long runs of 70 and 41 yards by freshman running back D.J. Williams, the Tigers only rushed for 19 yards in the game.
"We just played our football, stopping the run first is always our priority," senior defensive lineman Glen Logan said. "We're probably one of the better teams at stopping the run, but we'll continue to get better and make adjustments as the season goes on."
LSU all but shut down Auburn's passing attack as freshman quarterback Bo Nix was held to 157 yards passing and only three completed passes over 15 yards. The defense had constant pressure on Nix getting three sacks and three quarterback hurries, in stark contrast to how LSU allowed Florida quarterback Kyle Trask to have a clean pocket and throw for over 300 yards.
Up next LSU will face No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) in two weeks on Nov. 9 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.