Disappointment In Death Valley

In another must win matchup for LSU, the Tigers return to Death Valley to take on No. 22 Auburn. This game will mark the SEC home opener after last week’s 28-25 win in Starkville over rival Mississippi State. Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin, previously coached Boise State to a 69-19 record the previous seven seasons, will get his first taste of SEC play tonight.

LSU leads this series 31-23-1, and has a massive 19-5-1 record while playing in Tiger Stadium. AUBURN HAS NOT WON A GAME IN TIGER STADIUM DATING BACK TO 1999, when it won that matchup 41-7. LSU has since gone on a 10 game home win streak against Auburn.

Coming off a four touchdown performance against Mississippi State, quarterback Max Johnson continues to impress. The LSU signal caller is tied for second in the country in passing touchdowns, with 15.

This matchup will be won tonight not in the air, or on the ground, but in the trenches. The Tigers must stop the rushing attack of Auburn. Ed Orgeron said earlier this week said he’s “not concerned as much with the passing game.” Auburn also comes into the contest having just fired their wide receivers coach on Sunday and promoting an analyst that had previous coaching experience under Harsin.

Auburn won the toss and elected to receive. If you remember last week, that was the strategy for LSU, to get the ball and go right at Mississippi State. Unfortunately, State won the toss and got the ball.

Things get off to a rocky start for LSU, as they are penalized on the opening kick-off. Off sides is the call. LSU will re-kick. No, looks like Auburn wants the ball at their 30.

The LSU defense looks good, Auburn picked up 27 yards on their opening drive and will punt. Max Johnson immediately goes to his favorite target Kayshon Boutte, who picks up 55 yards on the catch and run. LSU would drive down inside the 15 and a mishandling by Johnson on the snap would cause the football to roll back to the 31. Next play, Johnson to Boutte for 6, shades of Flynn to Byrd flashed before my eyes. A Cade York PAT to get LSU on the board first. Score LSU 7 – Auburn 0

Auburn would get the ball at their own 25 to start the drive. Tank Bigsby would get the first carry on this drive, and pick up seven. However, Bigsby would not be the runner LSU needed to stop. Nix scrambled and made plays with his feet early. Picking up small yardage that would turn into big plays down the stretch. “We couldn’t tackle Bo Nix,” said Damone Clark. “That’s the biggest thing. We just didn’t come through. Way too many missed tackles.” Nix set Auburn up for a field goal try of 51 yards to put their first points of the night on the board. However, the kick was wide right. LSU took over at their own 34.

A personal foul and potential targeting call would move LSU to the Auburn 23. The booth reviewed and found that there was no targeting but, the personal foul of hands to the face stood. Max Johnson would get the Auburn defense to jump on a crucial 4th down play and move the ball to the Auburn 18. On the ensuing play, Johnson would take a sack and take a seven yard loss. LSU would be forced to settle for a field goal on 4th and 6. Score LSU 10 – Auburn 0

TJ Finley is in at quarterback for Auburn. The former LSU Tiger had one series for Auburn and had zero completions and Auburn punted back to LSU. LSU would drive down to the Auburn 3, and on 4th and 1 would take a false start penalty. Backing them up to the Auburn 8 and having to settle for yet another field goal. Score LSU 13 – Auburn 0

Bo Nix started to channel his inner Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel, or even Michael Vick on this next drive. The Auburn quarterback turned into a gazelle and was nearly impossible to tackle. He evaded three LSU defenders on a 4th down scramble then rolling to his left threw across his body and found Tyler Fromm for the Auburn touchdown. The PAT was good. Score LSU 13 – Auburn 7

An LSU possession would end in a punt. Bo Nix worked his Houdini routine again, this time extending plays with his feet retreating and reversing field. Serpentining and weaving his way around the backfield while directing traffic downfield. Nix was able to shrug LSU defenders off of him with ease like an adult playing with a toddler. However, Auburn just could not push the ball in for six and settled for the field goal. The LSU defense mustered a stop. Score LSU 13 – Auburn 10   

LSU would go into half time clinging to a three point lead, but would get the ball back after half time.

Auburn came out and tried to onside kick. The kick sailed out of bounds and Auburn was penalized 5 yards from the spot. LSU took over at the Auburn 45. Ty Davis Price picked up eight yards on the first carry of the second half. They would go away from the run game quickly, passing on second, and third down. LSU would settle for a field goal, again. Score LSU 16 – Auburn 10

Auburn’s next drive, LSU started to bend. With the defense backed up Auburn drove down into field goal range, and came on to attempt a 52 yard field goal. This however was blocked by Jay Ward coming off the edge. LSU would take over at their own 42.

LSU still with no real running game to speak of, would settle for the long 51 yard field goal. Score LSU 19 – Auburn 10

In the fourth quarter, Bo Nix turned from Harry Houdini to Super Man. He put the Auburn squad on his back and carried them to the promise land. He had a five yard rush off tackle for a touchdown to put the Score LSU 19 – Auburn 17. Then ran in circles around the LSU defense to find open receivers on impossible 4th down completions to keep drives alive.

Final Score Auburn 24 LSU 17

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