BATON ROUGE, La. (WSFA) - The No. 9 Auburn Tigers entered No. 2 LSU’s Death Valley without a win there since 1999. That streak will continue on after LSU (8-0, 4-0) defeated Auburn (6-2, 3-2) 23-20.
The story for Auburn against LSU was much like it was against Florida. The defense kept it close, it was 10-10 at half, before they eventually were worn down and LSU’s offense began to pull away. Auburn’s offense just wasn’t able to make enough plays.
The game shifted in the third quarter. After LSU received the opening kick in the second half and were forced to punt, the Auburn offense looked poised to take a touchdown lead. Running back DJ Williams took the drive’s first play 70 yards before stepping out of bounds at the LSU 9. The Tigers ran two consecutive running plays and Nix’s third-down pass was meant to be a fade to Seth Williams before Nix threw it out of bounds, bringing up an Auburn field goal. Carlson hit the field goal and Auburn took a 13-10 lead.
Next time out, the Bayou Bengals went 74 yards helped out by a big 45-yard pass-and-catch between quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Chase’s reception put LSU at the Auburn 6, but the No. 2-ranked Tigers, and among the highest-scoring teams in the nation, was unable to punch it in. Auburn’s defense came up big, like it had all game, forcing the LSU into a 4th and goal. LSU’s offense remained on the field, and Burrow’s motion screen pass to Chase was unsuccessful and the Auburn Tigers would take over.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn dialed up three consecutive running plays, but were unable to budge but a yard, forced into a three-and-out situation. But Auburn’s defense is one of the best in the nation and they continued to prove that on LSU’s next offensive possession.
In just three plays, the Auburn defense had the ball back into the hands of the Auburn offense. One of Burrow’s only mistakes of the game was on a pass that was thrown up in a one-on-one situation between his receiver and Auburn defensive back Roger McCreary. McCreary came down with the jump ball at the Auburn 1-yard line and that’s where the offense would take over. But yet again, Auburn’s offense would be unable to get anything going as LSU would force another three-and-out.
Following that Auburn punt, LSU would strike. They were in the end zone in four plays. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire took the handoff on four consecutive plays, picking up 45 yards and scoring on a 6-yard rush. LSU’s extra-point attempt would fail which left the door open for Malzahn’s Tigers. It was just a 16-13 by LSU.
What ensued was another unsuccessful drive. Auburn’s third consecutive three-and-out followed. Nix was sacked on third down for a loss of seven to set up the punt. LSU followed that drive with another touchdown.
Eleven plays and nearly 4-and-a-half minutes off the clock. The drive began towards the end of the third quarter and ended just after the beginning of the fourth quarter. Burrow kept the drive alive on an early 3rd and 8. He scrambled for 10 yards to move the sticks. It was one of his many clutch runs for the LSU Tigers to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, Burrow and wideout Justin Jefferson connected on a 21-yard play to move to the Auburn 30. LSU slowly moved up the field some more before LSU faced another third down. This time a 3rd and 2, with an empty backfield, Burrow called his own number. It was a quarterback draw and the LSU quarterback rushed into the end zone unscathed and LSU took a 10-point lead, 23-13.
Two more Auburn punts followed, but the LSU offense wouldn’t be able to increase their lead, keeping Auburn in it. Auburn’s offense would finally strike with 2:32 to play in the game. Nix and Williams would connect on a 5-yard slant for the score. Carlson’s extra-point made it a 3-point game bringing up a critical onside kick opportunity.
It looked for a moment the onside attempt would prove favorable for Auburn. Daniel Thomas was able to knock the ball loose from the initial LSU player looking to recover, but a second LSU player was able to jump on the ball.
With no more timeouts on the table for Auburn, LSU would run the clock out, securing a 10th consecutive win over Auburn inside LSU’s Tiger Stadium.
Another killer for Auburn in this game was penalties. One of the more disciplined teams in the Southeastern Conference committed 15 penalties for 98 yards in Saturday’s loss. The Auburn defense also gave up a total of 508 yards. Burrow finished with 321 passing yards on 32 of 42 passing. Nix finished 15-for-35 with 157 yards. Each quarterback threw a touchdown and an interception.
Auburn returns to the field Nov. 2 at home against Ole Miss.