- Associated Press - Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another wild ending and another Auburn victory.

The Tigers might not be as good as they were last season, but they still have a knack for pulling out the close games.

Auburn backup safety Ryan Smith stopped Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf just shy of the goal line on the final play to preserve the Tigers’ 41-34 win over the 16th-ranked Bulldogs.

A week after needing two touchdowns in the final 2:09 to beat Utah State, defending national champion Auburn extended its winning streak to 17 games.

Behind Cam Newton, the Tigers were never out of a game last year and were at their best when it was close. They came from 24-0 down to beat Alabama and won the BCS title game against Oregon on a last-second field goal.

The Tigers might not be able to keep up this kind of winning for another season, especially with a defense that allowed 531 yards to Mississippi State. Auburn still needs to face SEC West rivals LSU, Arkansas and Alabama.

But the dramatic victory against Mississippi State might get the Tigers back in the rankings.

The third-ranked Crimson Tide easily had no such problems, easily dispatching No. 23 Penn State 27-11 in front of 107,846 at Beaver Stadium.

The other crazy game in the SEC involved South Carolina and Georgia. The Gamecocks sent Bulldogs coach Mark Richt to his first 0-2 start with a 45-42 victory.

No. 2 LSU 49, Northwestern State 3

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Spencer Ware and Michael Ford ran for two scores apiece and LSU overwhelmed Northwestern State.

LSU (2-0) led 28-3 by halftime, allowing Miles to give a number of starters some rest in advance of the Tigers’ Southeastern Conference opener at Mississippi State on Thursday night.

Coveted junior college transfer quarterback Zach Mettenberger made his debut in relief of LSU starter Jarrett Lee to open the second half.

After Lee completed 9 of 10 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown, Mettenberger went 8 of 11 for 92 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass.

John Shaughnessy kicked a 44-yard field goal for Northwestern State (1-1), the only points the Demons have scored against LSU in 11 meetings.

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