It’s hard to remember when a player deserved the Heisman Trophy as much as Auburn junior quarterback Cam Newton

It’s hard to remember when a player deserved the Heisman Trophy as much as Auburn junior quarterback Cam Newton. If he doesn’t win the trophy, the NCAA should launch an investigation into finding the root cause of such a travesty.

Patrick Peterson struck the Heisman Trophy pose in the end zone after scoring a touchdown earlier this year. Understandably so, too, since the premier LSU junior cornerback was one of the early pretenders for the coveted award from the New York Downtown Athletic Club.

So much for wishful thinking. It was Peterson that Newton blew past near the end of a 49-yard touchdown run in Auburn’s 24-17 victory over LSU on Saturday. When Newton wasn’t outracing defenders, he was overpowering the likes of three-time Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week Drake Nevis and getting the best of LSU leading tackler and senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard.

To be the best, you have to beat the best. Not only did Newton do just that, he reduced the SEC’s No. 1 defense to rubble. In rushing for a career-best 217 yards, Newton set an SEC single-season rushing record for a quarterback with 1,077 yards. After just eight games, the Blinn Junior College transfer has eight of the top 50 rushing games in school history.

If Auburn continues to perform at this level, its seems only Alabama in the regular-season finale as a chance to overtake its in-state rival.

As for LSU, it needs to let bygones be bygones. The Tigers fell to a better team, and the best they can hope to do is to learn from their mistakes. After an open date, LSU must entertain one-loss Alabama, which reaffirmed its superiority with a 41-10 victory over Tennessee on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide comes armed with its own rushing arsenal in defending Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and sophomore Trent Richardson. Senior quarterback Greg McElroy won’t present the same problems that Newton did, but McElroy was good enough against Tennessee to have completed 21 of 32 passes for 264 yards while rushing for one score.

That’s far better than any LSU quarterback did in the Tigers’ 16-14 victory over Tennessee earlier this season. In fact, that’s far better than any LSU quarterback has done in any single game this season. At the rate juniors Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee threw for yardage against Auburn, it would take them more than five games to reach McElroy’s yardage total against Tennessee.

Granted, LSU’s wide receivers had far too many drops, particularly when such mistakes can damage the fragile psyches of those throwing the football. Even if those catches were made, it’s hard to know if Jefferson and Lee would have thrown for much more than their 46 and 43 yards, respectively.

What’s more, Jefferson and Lee both fumbled center snaps, owing in part to the presence of a hard-charging Auburn defense. Auburn hardly had a reputation for stopping the opposition until it ran into an LSU football team that still has trouble moving the football with any continuity.

For all Coach Les Miles’ superlative recruiting, he seems to have come up short on the offensive line and at quarterback. Surely Newton got the best of Peterson, Nevis and Sheppard, but that’s just because Newton is one of a kind.

Take players with the quality of the aforementioned, put them at quarterback and on the offensive line, and see how much better LSU becomes.

That’s not to disparage Jefferson, Lee and those linemen who are playing just as hard as the quarterbacks, who put forth extreme effort. After all, it was center T-Bob Hebert, who had the presence of mind to hike the ball against Tennessee that led to a penalty and an LSU victory.

It’s just to note that players win games, and LSU needs a few more in the right places. Either that, or the Tigers need to find a Cam Newton of their own.