Auburn Drops Upset Bid in Hard-Fought Contest at No. 2 LSU
BATON ROUGE, La. – No. 9 Auburn, playing in its second top-10 matchup this month, held No. 2 LSU to a season-low 23 points Saturday, but the upset bid from the visiting Tigers came up short in a 23-20 loss on the road.
“I’m proud of our kids’ effort,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. “They came in here against the No. 2 team in the country and fought their guts out until the very end. We have a bunch of winners in that locker room. They’re not going to flinch moving forward. But we had opportunities, and we didn’t seize the moment. Give LSU credit. They’re a very good team.”
Auburn was up to the challenge early, holding LSU to 47 total yards and no points in the first quarter. It was only the second quarter this season that LSU was held scoreless. Thanks to a 30-yard field goal from Anders Carlson, Auburn led 3-0 after the first quarter.
Following an LSU touchdown, Auburn answered with a touchdown of its own when quarterback Bo Nix took it in from a yard out on 4th-and-1 to give his team the lead back late in the first half. The drive started deep in LSU territory after Jeremiah Dinson forced a fumble on a punt return that was recovered by teammate Jamien Sherwood.
LSU tacked on a late field goal to tie the score, 10-10, going into halftime.
Auburn jumped out early in the second half behind a 70-yard run from freshman D.J. Williams that led to another Carlson field goal to put the visitors back on top, 13-10. Williams recorded his first career 100-yard rushing performance with 130 yards on 13 carries.
“He’s coming into his own,” Malzahn said. “I think everybody saw that. That was really his first real rodeo as far as being the primary running back against a very good defense in a hostile environment, and I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player.”
It was the defense’s turn after that as Auburn came up with two critical stops in the third quarter to keep LSU off the scoreboard.
First, the defense made a goal-line stand. Auburn stuffed three straight runs inside the 3-yard line, and on 4th-and-goal, Dinson and Noah Igbinoghene converged to make the tackle for no gain on a screen pass. Then, on the very next drive, sophomore cornerback Roger McCreary intercepted LSU quarterback Joe Burrow at the 1-yard line.
For McCreary, it was his first career interception at Auburn. It was also the first interception thrown by Burrow this season.
Burrow and the LSU offense responded, however, with a touchdown late in the third quarter and then another one early in the fourth to take a 23-13 lead.
But Auburn continued to fight, and with less than three minutes to go, Nix connected with Seth Williams on a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 23-20. The sophomore wide receiver led the team with four catches for 65 yards and the touchdown, and he also became the 28th player in Auburn history to go over 1,000 career receiver yards.
The ensuing onside kick was recovered by LSU, which all but sealed the outcome.
Defensively, five different Auburn players finished with 10 or more tackles – led by Dinson, who tied his career high with 15 tackles. Freshman linebacker Owen Pappoe also had a career high in tackles with seven and recorded 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
It was another outstanding performance from senior defensive lineman Derrick Brown, who finished with seven tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.
After being on the road the entire month of October, Auburn (6-2, 3-2) will return home for four straight home games in November, beginning with Ole Miss next Saturday. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 6 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN.
“We’ve got four games left against some really good teams, and there’s a lot to play for,” Malzahn said. “Our guys will stick together. They’re true Auburn men. And we’ll finish this thing the right way.”