No. 1 LSU crushes No. 19 Auburn 45-10
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — It didn't matter who was throwing the ball to Rueben Randle, it didn't matter who was covering him, and it certainly didn't matter that LSU was missing three key players.
Randle caught a 42-yard scoring pass from Jordan Jefferson and a 46-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee, and No. 1 LSU once again overcame off-the-field distractions in style with a 45-10 victory over 19th-ranked Auburn on Saturday.
LSU was without star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, leading rusher Spencer Ware and defensive back Tharold Simon — all suspended one game for violating the team's drug policy.
Yet LSU continued to make team history with its eighth double-digit win in as many games this season, a streak that started with a season-opening triumph over Oregon without the then-suspended Jefferson and receiver Russell Shepard.
Off next week, LSU (8-0, 5-0 SEC) will be unbeaten entering its showdown at No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 5.
The Crimson Tide were playing at home Saturday night against struggling Tennessee.
The beneficiary of Ware's absence was freshman Kenny Hilliard, who scored the first two touchdowns of his career while rushing for 65 yards on only 10 carries.
Randle finished with five receptions for 106 yards. Lee was 14 of 20 for 165 yards and two touchdowns, while Jefferson completed two of three passes for 54 yards.
With Michael Ford leading the way (12 rushes, 82 yards), LSU gained 174 yards on the ground.
Even without two key defensive backs, LSU held Auburn first-time starter Clint Moseley to 145 yards passing sacked him six times and intercepted him once. If anyone questioned how deep LSU could really be at defensive back, it was none other than Mathieu's replacement, Ron Brooks, who made the interception and returned it 28 yards for a score that made it 42-3 only half way through the third quarter.
Shortly after Brooks scored, the message: "I see you Ron baby!!! THATS WHAT WE DO ..." appeared on Mathieu's Twitter page.
Auburn (5-3, 3-2) was held to 87 yards rushing, led by Michael Dyer's 60 yards.
All season, LSU has appeared increasingly galvanized by each potential pitfall and coach Les Miles even mentioned several weeks ago that adversity seems to strengthen his tight-knit team's resolve.
It's getting pretty hard to argue with that, considering LSU responded to its latest crisis with the most lopsided victory by either team in the 46-game history of the series. It was Auburn's worst loss since a 51-10 demolition at the hands of then-No. 1 Florida in 1996.
Wearing special edition uniforms, LSU defenders and coverage teams swarmed to the ball like blazing streaks of white, delivering crushing hits that provoked collective gasps from the Death Valley crowd.
One such hit was delivered by safety Eric Reid, who jarred the ball from kickoff returner Tre Mason. LSU's Tahj Jones found the football while losing his helmet, rising in celebration with his dreadlocks aflutter at the Auburn 22.
Hilliard then more than made up for a holding penalty with a 25-yard carry, which set up his second score on a 1-yard dive to make it 35-3.
Hilliard's first touchdown came on a 9-yard run on game's opening drive, giving LSU the lead for good. The Tigers still have not trailed since the second quarter of their season opener against Oregon.
Although LSU marched for a seemingly easy touchdown on its opening drive, Auburn kept the game close for much of the first half.
Auburn was threatening to tie it at 7, but Barkevious Mingo's second sack of the game forced Auburn to settle for Cody Parkey's 42 field goal.
Half way through the second quarter, LSU went ahead 14-3 when Jefferson spotted Randle streaking down the right sideline and released a perfect pass with two pass rushers converging on him.
Late in the quarter, Lee lofted a third-down pass down the same right sideline that, Randle who had blown past two defenders, caught in stride for what looked like a replay of his first score.