AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Lucky, plucky or just plain good?
Fifth-ranked Auburn and No. 6 LSU are the Southeastern Conference's survivors, winning with gutsy comebacks and playcalling, and even being on the right side of officiating rulings.
Neither team has been perfect, but their records remain so at least until after Saturday's latest SEC game of the year at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"I wouldn't necessarily say there's a lucky undefeated team because there's nothing lucky about wins in the SEC," LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "You get them or you don't."
Indeed, the league that has produced the last four national champions will only have one remaining unbeaten by dinnertime Saturday. Both Tigers are 7-0 with four SEC wins.
Auburn has reached this point behind quarterback Cam Newton, perhaps the Heisman Trophy front-runner, and three comeback victories. Newton's Tigers also had two touchdowns survive replay reviews in last weekend's 65-43 shootout with Arkansas.
LSU has thrived behind the SEC's top defense and the running of Stevan Ridley. Not to mention a fortuitous bounce on a fake field goal called by coach Les Miles against Florida and that infamous second-chance touchdown against Tennessee.
"That says they must be a close team like we are if they've been winning like we have," Auburn left tackle Lee Ziemba said. "They must be as willing to fight for each other as the guys are here. It's a testament to the guys they have there and the coaches."
Maybe both teams are lucky, plucky and good. They're certainly in surprising positions in a Western Division where Alabama and Arkansas received most of the preseason attention.
Both remain defiant about any remaining skeptics.
Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes: "We're not trying to convince nobody. I really don't care. We don't believe in that, to be honest with you. As long as the 150 guys and the coaches in the room believe that we can handle it, that's all that I really care about."
Peterson: "We really don't understand why people are still dumping on LSU as a team, dumping on coach Miles. I mean, we're winning games. We're 7-0. We've got a chance to go 8-0 come Saturday and a lot of teams and a lot of media are still not respecting us. It's tough winning games in the SEC."
The game Saturday should pit strength against strength. Auburn leads the league and is sixth nationally in rushing behind the gliding speed and linebacker-like power of Newton. LSU has the same rankings in run defense and hopes to be the first to find a way to contain Newton.
South Carolina was allowing a league-best 60 yards a game rushing before giving up 334 to Auburn. Newton is just 146 shy of the SEC record for single-season rushing yards (1,006) by a quarterback, set by Auburn's Jimmy Sidle in 1963, and has been averaging 158 in league games.
"He runs hard. He gives a blow like a fullback," Miles said. "He's elusive like a tailback, and he has a great touch on the ball. As capable as he is running, he's also that capable throwing. He makes great decisions with the ball in his hand.
"Legitimately, he's a Heisman contender."
LSU counters with the nation's No. 3 defense, giving up 242 yards a game. LSU also found the formula for stopping Gus Malzahn's pre-Cam offense in last year's 31-10 win.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik was defensive coordinator for Auburn's unbeaten 2004 team and a national champion at Texas the following year. He's used to big-game pressure.
"I love it. I love it for our players and our fans," Chizik said. "This is my job. You have to love this type of scenario."
LSU has won the last three meetings since a 7-3 loss in 2006, back when defense ruled on the Plains. Auburn was ranked third and LSU sixth in a similarly meaningful showdown.
Auburn offensive lineman Mike Berry was a freshman on that team that was handled by Arkansas three weeks later.
"We were undefeated going into the Arkansas game, we were undefeated and we had beaten a real good LSU team," he said. "Being a young guy myself, I was on the bandwagon. I was like, 'We're going to the national championship. We can do this.'
"It's one of those things where you can't talk about it too early, because you can get beat any game. You've got to stay focused and humble."
And a little bit of luck never hurt.