AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - 20-0 with 12:50 left to play in the second quarter. That was the score at one point in the LSU-Auburn game in Death Valley last year. Auburn had the lead. Auburn had the momentum. Auburn had its foot on LSU’s throat - until - they didn’t.
LSU overcame a 20-0 deficit and a 23-14 halftime deficit to down Auburn 27-23. Auburn didn’t score in the second half. That’s a game that’s sat on Auburn’s mind for nearly a year.
Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn said he uses last year’s game as a motivational factor, though he really doesn’t have to say much.
“I really don’t have to say a whole lot,” Malzahn said at his Tuesday presser. “That was an extremely tough loss, and the toughest loss of the year last year - probably one of the toughest since I’ve been here.”
The second half for Auburn in last year’s game was rough. They only totaled 72 yards and punted on five of its seven drives.
Malzahn said this year’s a new year and this year Auburn’s the home team, which is very important. The Auburn Tigers have won 13 straight in Jordan-Hare dating back to 2016 when Auburn defeated LSU 18-13.
During the streak, five of the 13 wins have come against ranked opponents. Over those five ranked opponents (LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Georgia, Alabama) Auburn’s averaged 37.8 points per game.
LSU’s head football coach Ed Orgeron expects the noise level of Jordan-Hare to play a huge factor in Saturday’s game.
“We have to be on the same page. It’s critical for us,” said Orgeron. “We had some noise this week. It looked like it was no problem. But you can never tell until you get in the game.”
Malzahn expects the match-up to be physical.
“There is no doubt. This goes way back in history that whenever LSU and Auburn get together, it’s going to be a physical game. They know that, we know that; it’s always a good one, so the intensity will be very high,” said Malzahn.
LSU will be without one of its star players. Sophomore linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson will miss the remainder of the season after suffering an injury in LSU’s opener against Miami. Malzahn doesn’t think that’ll effect the LSU defense too much.
“He’s a good player, but they have a lot of depth. You can tell they have a lot of guys that can run. Traditionally that’s been their MO, and it looks the same to me, but obviously he was a very good player,” Malzahn said.
Saturday will be a big test for both Auburn and LSU. Both teams have already defeated ranked opponents this season, but both wins came at neutral sites. Saturday opens each team’s SEC slate.
“The SEC home opener - obviously a big week - another highly-ranked opponent that knocked off a previously Top 10 opponent and played very well,” said Malzahn. “Looking at them defensively, it looks like the same type of defense LSU’s traditionally had, a Top 10 defense in scoring right now. Offensively, they’re very balanced - one of the more balanced teams in our conference right now. So it’s obviously a big game.”
No. 7 Auburn and No. 12 LSU will kick Saturday at 2:30 p.m.