In a season in which LSU will play no Southeastern Conference night home games for the first time since 1935, will the Tigers’ biggest regular-season showdown ever be under the lights?
Despite no official confirmation from LSU, CBS or the SEC, speculation continued to swirl at Saturday’s LSU-Auburn game that CBS is angling to make No. 1-ranked LSU’s Nov. 5 showdown at No. 2 Alabama a prime-time affair instead of showing the game in its regular 2:30 p.m. time slot.
WAFB-TV reported Friday that CBS was considering moving the game to night.
The matchup has generated nationwide interest among college football fans for weeks. If the rankings hold, it would be the first 1-2 regular-season matchup in SEC history.
Spokespersons from the SEC and CBS declined comment. LSU senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent was only able to confirm that it is at least contractually possible for CBS to show a second prime-time game within a season.
CBS typically gets one prime-time slot per year. The network already played that card Oct. 1 when Alabama played at Florida at night.
ESPN, the SEC’s other TV partner, typically shows one or two conference games each Saturday night and might require an incentive to allow CBS to put LSU-Alabama in prime time.
TV selections for Nov. 5 SEC games are expected to be announced Monday.
A pair of highly touted players from Alabama — quarterback Jameis Winston of Hueytown and outside linebacker Kwon Alexander of Oxford — were at LSU on Saturday for their official visits.
Winston (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) is considered a soft commitment to Florida State. He is rated No. 7 on the Rivals 100, No. 11 on the ESPNU 150 and No. 21 on the Scout 300.
Alexander (6-2, 210) is No. 27 on the ESPNU 150, No. 30 on the Scout 300 and No. 170 on the Rivals 250.
LSU had no giveaways against Auburn and now has gone five-plus games without turning the ball over.
The last one came with 10:08 remaining in the Mississippi State game on Sept. 15 on a Jarrett Lee interception. Since then, the Tigers have had 62 meaningful offensive possessions and 335 snaps without a miscue.
LSU came into the game ranked first in the SEC and fourth in the nation with a plus-13 turnover margin.
LSU’s ball security frustrated an Auburn defense which has been opportunistic in its previous three games, taking it away eight times (three interceptions and five fumble recoveries).
Lee has thrown just the one interception against 13 touchdowns this season, but admitted ghosts of pick sixes past flashed through his mind in the fourth quarter.
On third-and-8 at the Auburn 18, Lee threw for Rueben Randle along the left sideline near the Auburn goal. But Randle slipped making his turn, allowing cornerback T’Sharvan Bell to get his hands on the ball.
Bell might have had clear sailing to the end zone but couldn’t hang on. LSU’s Drew Alleman then kicked a 36-yard field goal for a 45-3 lead.
“I was a little worried about that,” said Lee, who threw seven pick sixes as a redshirt freshman in 2008. “If he had caught it, it would have been me and him. I don’t know if I could have caught him.”
For the record, Lee has thrown just three interceptions in all since 2008, with none returned for touchdowns.
Play of the game
LSU was locked in a tight game, up only 7-3 late in second quarter, its offense stagnant after driving for a touchdown on LSU’s opening possession.
Facing second-and-7 at the Auburn 42, Jordan Jefferson stood firm against the Auburn pass rush and hit Randle in stride for a touchdown to put LSU up 14-3 with 5:00 left before halftime. LSU went up 21-3 with 40 seconds left before halftime when Lee hit Randle on a 46-yard scoring strike.
LSU has still not trailed since the second quarter of its season opener against Oregon.
One that got away
Auburn, which was playing its eighth game, lost its first fumble of the season in the third quarter when freshman Tre Mason returned a kickoff and had the ball jarred loose on a massive hit by LSU safety Eric Reid at the Auburn 22.
Auburn had fumbled four times going into Saturday’s game, but it managed to recover each of them until LSU linebacker Tahj Jones fell on Mason’s bobble.
Jefferson’s 42-yard TD pass to Randle in the second quarter was the 30th of his career. … Attendance was listed as 93,038, the second-largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history behind only the 2009 Florida game (93,129). … Among former LSU players attending were Kyle Williams (Buffalo Bills), Andrew Whitworth (Cincinnati Bengals) and former New York Giant Leonard Marshall. … Fullback J.C. Copeland made his first career start. … LSU and Georgia (idle Saturday) are the only SEC teams to score first in every game this season. … LSU leads the Auburn series 25-20-1 and is 5-2 against Auburn under Les Miles. … LSU honored its women’s track and field team on the field in the first half. The Lady Tigers captured the 2011 SEC indoor and outdoor team championships.
Advocate sportswriters Scott Rabalais and Sheldon Mickles contributed to this report.