Beware The Underdogs
War Eagle, everybody! It’s LSU week once again on the Plains. It’s a familiar feeling once again for Auburn Tiger fans. Since 1992, every other year LSU comes to town with high expectations, and fans wonder if the home team can compete. This year is no different. It’s the same situation. LSU comes in highly regarded, and folks wonder if Auburn can start turning the corner.
Since the league expanded to 12 teams, Auburn has actually done pretty well against LSU in Jordan Hare Stadium, exceeding expectations nearly every time. Auburn is 7-3 against LSU in Jordan Hare Stadium the past 20 years, and was competitive even in the losses.
In 1992, Auburn came in still stinging from a blow-out 45-24 loss in Oxford two weeks prior. It was a team that had only won five games the year before. LSU had played Texas A&M close, then dominated a good Mississippi State squad the week before, and everyone wondered how Auburn would compete. Auburn shocked everyone by dominating for 3 quarters, and building a 27-7 lead. LSU inserted freshman quarterback Jamie Howard, who generated three 4th quarter touchdowns, as Auburn collapsed on defense and trailed 28-27 late. A last second Scott Etheridge field goal gave Auburn the 30-28 win.
It was a very similar situation in 1994, with LSU having early success with A&M and MSU. Auburn had barely eeked by Ole Miss in the opener, and showed cracks against Louisiana Monroe. LSU’s defense dominated the game, giving up just five first downs to Auburn. However, the LSU offensive brain trust could not quit calling pass plays with a 23-9 lead in the 4th quarter. Auburn ran three interceptions back for scores, and won a 30-26 shocker.
In 2000, both teams came in undefeated, and LSU took an early 10-0 lead. Auburn dominated the 2nd quarter, and led 13-10 at the half. The two squads traded 3rd quarter touchdown passes, then Tim Carter opened up a double digit Auburn lead with a kickoff return for a score. Auburn went on to win 34-17.
In 2002, LSU came in flying high with six straight wins, and ranked 10th in the nation. Auburn was struggling at 4-3, having suffered a blow-out loss to Arkansas, and a heart-breaking loss to Florida in overtime. I think most folks expected Auburn to fold, and limp home to a losing record. However, LSU was bringing in a new quarterback, Marcus Randle, for his first SEC start. Auburn pounded the rock, and harassed Randle, who threw four interceptions. Auburn won a surprising 31-7 decision.
In 2004, just three days after Hurricane Ivan, defending national champ LSU came calling once again, undefeated and heavily favored. Auburn had nearly lost their head coach Tommy Tuberville after a disappointing 8-5 season, and hadn’t looked terribly capable in wins over Louisiana Monroe and Mississippi State. It was another physical war in the trenches, but Auburn …
… came up with a couple of miracle passes late, from Jason Campbell to Courtney Taylor to tie the game. Auburn got a second chance on a botched extra point, and held on for a 10-9 victory.
The 2006 season saw LSU absolutely blow away cupcakes Louisiana-Lafayette and Arizona, and the defending Western Division champs were again heavily favored over an Auburn team that had looked less than impressive in wins over Washington State and Mississippi State. LSU never found the end zone that day, as Auburn’s Eric Brock made a touchdown saving tackle at the four yard line as time expired. Auburn had once again upset LSU, 7-3.
In 2010, both teams rolled in undefeated and ranked in the top ten. Again, folks wondered if Auburn would be able to physically hold up. The home team had a dangerous offense, but was giving up nearly 30 points per game to SEC teams on defense. Auburn held LSU to just 115 rushing yards, and 243 total yards, while piling up 526 yards, including 440 on the ground. Auburn came out on top 24-17.
Of course, there have been home losses to LSU by some of Auburn’s more disappointing teams. The night the barn burned in 1996, Auburn dominated the LSU offense, but committed too many turnovers in a 19-15 loss. In 1998 LSU dominated early, but Auburn closed to within 19-17 at the half. In the second half, the LSU blitz killed Auburn’s shaky offense, and LSU won 31-19. And in 2008, Auburn pulled ahead in the 4th quarter, but could not stop a late LSU drive, and fell 26-21.
History gives Auburn a good chance in this year’s matchup. Auburn typically exceeds expectations in this series, particularly at home. And once again, LSU brings in a new quarterback who’s only had starts against North Texas, Washington, and Idaho. This is Zach Mettenberger’s first SEC road start. He has certainly been impressive under the lights at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, hitting 48 of 66 passes for 609 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Once again, Auburn fans need to create a rowdy, noisy, hostile environment Saturday night. This game’s an ESPN prime time presentation, and the eyes of the college football nation will be watching. The weather should be absolutely perfect for this one, with clear skies, temps falling through the seventies, and low humidity.
As always, we’ll have our usual open thread(s) up Saturday. Feel free to drop by, and help us cheer on the Auburn Tigers! We’ll have a play-by-play this week. Look for a new thread at the start of each quarter, as our new platform does not handle long comment threads well. We’re still working on a better system, but thus far there have been some snags, so bear with us one more week! Thanks! War Eagle! Let’s beat LSU!
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