AUBURN, Ala. - Eric Brock's instructions were simple and altogether appropriate for the final play of Auburn's latest slugfest with Louisiana State.
"The coaches told us anything we see in front of us, you hit it," the Auburn safety said.
Brock's game-saving tackle just a few yards from the goal line on the final play preserved No. 3 Auburn's 7-3 win over sixth-ranked LSU on Saturday. He also tipped away a fourth-down pass to end another late LSU threat as Auburn turned away the visiting Tigers again and again.
What has become the Southeastern Conference's most rugged rivalry had all the usual elements: two punishing defenses, a pivotal call that left both sides a bit perplexed and some follies in the kicking game.
The call went Auburn's way.
With LSU facing fourth-and-8 from Auburn's 31 and 2:43 left, JaMarcus Russell fired the ball to Early Doucet near the goal line. A diving Brock deflected the pass, but Zach Gilbert was called for pass interference that would have kept the drive alive.
The officials overturned the call, although replays showed the contact came before the ball was tipped by Brock.
LSU coach Les Miles wasn't happy with the change.
"If the ball is tipped at the line of scrimmage, there is no pass interference," said Miles, also unhappy with a pass interference call against his team. "The ball was tipped downfield. The proper explanation will be forthcoming."
Auburn (3-0, 2-0) got the ball but LSU's defense stopped Kenny Irons on three consecutive runs.
The visiting Tigers (2-1, 0-1) drove to Auburn's 24 with 2.5 seconds left as Russell hooked up with Craig Davis for gains of 20 and 21 yards and Dwayne Bowe for 21. On the final play, Russell went to Davis again. The receiver caught the pass inside the 10, but Brock stopped him cold with a jarring hit at the 4.
"This was a statement game right here," Auburn cornerback David Irons said. "It let everyone know we're for real."
It's the first time since 1972 these teams have met with both ranked in the Top 10 lived up to its billing - mostly thanks to a pair of blitzing defenses.
"It was a very violent game," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "There was more speed than I've seen on the field in a long time. It's hard to find a loser in that game."
Auburn's hoping recent history repeats itself. Five times in the past six years, the winner of this game has won the Western Division title. The past three meetings have been decided by a combined eight points, with Auburn winning two of them.
Not surprisingly in this series, LSU's 3-0 halftime lead was based on two field goals: John Vaughn's 26-yard miss for Auburn and Colt David's 42-yarder to end the half.
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