September 21, 2008
As far as passive spectating goes, there aren't many feelings better than that moment you realize you're watching a personal classic, one of those games you'll remember for years no matter how it goes down in the larger narrative. These are the games when you can barely sit still watching even if you don't have a rooting interest, barely stop babbling at the screen no matter who's around, and you want to call your dad just to make sure he's seeing this, because he raised you to appreciate it. When you're somehow physically exhausted after three-and-a-half hours on a couch, that's a great game.
LSU-Auburn entered that territory around the time Andrew Hatch was predictably concussed in the third quarter and sure-to-be-overnatched Jarrett Lee trotted on like a lamb to the slaughter. Within five minutes, Lee elicited raised eyebrows for a pair of tough completions and one audible "Wow!" for fluttering a ball into the perfect spot to close Auburn's lead to four while being knocked into a liquid state. And Les Miles followed that in quick succession with a successful onside kick and later a halfback pass to take the lead, with an impossible sideline catch by Auburn in between. As always, Miles' balls defy gravity, and for a second after that, it seemed both sidelines would erupt into some kind of primal, hooting, chest-thumping standoff, until either Miles or Tommy Tuberville ventured across the field and cracked the other with an antelope femur. This is basically what the rest of the game was like.
So tomorrow is for hashing out LSU's demonic pass rush and the sudden appearance of Adam's apples and unmentionable hairs on a pair of fully-tenderized quarterbacks -- especially Lee, the hero of LSU's comeback despite putting the Tigers in the hole to begin with one of the worst passes ever launched in the state of Alabama (remember: this is the state that produced Freddie Kitchens, but nothing he nor any other hapless cracker ever emitted matches the ball of suck Lee halfheartedly lobbed into the flat for a gimme Auburn touchdown in the first half). For now, just be able to appreciate that you saw it, if you saw it (if you didn't, stay up for the replay, or find someone with TiVo), and be glad you don't have to wake up tomorrow with whatever's left of Andrew Hatch's brain.
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Photo of Miles and team via the Associated Press.