While Auburn was clinching the SEC Western Division championship and a trip to the SEC championship game on Saturday night, LSU was working on getting better, one game at a time.
That meant having a stubborn commitment to a running game that produced a season-low 57 yards in a 24-20 victory over Troy the previous week. This time, LSU pounded Vanderbilt for a season-high 273 rushing yards en route to a 24-7 victory.
"We wanted to run the ball today," LSU coach Nick Saban said, "but we also wanted to have balance in the offense. I was a little concerned that we didn't throw it more."
LSU is out of the SEC championship race one season after winning the BCS national championship, but at 6-2, 3-2 in the SEC, the 19th-ranked Tigers can still finish strong and play in a major bowl. The best way to do that, Saban indicated, is to do a better job of running the ball as the Tigers did down the stretch last season.
"We did run the ball effectively, and that was a plus," Saban said. "I think the offensive line did a very good job in the game, so we're hopeful that we'll continue to make progress there and improve in the passing game."
The Tigers will use their second open date of the season this week to build on its running success and prepare for a Nov. 13 home game against Alabama.
"We played really hard and showed our toughness," said tailback Alley Broussard, who rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. "We still need to work on a daily basis and get prepared for Alabama."
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they'll also have to work hard to rebuild an offensive line that lost senior center Ben Wilkerson to a ruptured patella tendon in his left knee. Even though the game was decided, Wilkerson remained in the game when he suffered his injury on the final play of the game.
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