The Auburn Tigers traveled to LSU and delivered a performance that everyone associated with the program needed. For the first time since 1999, Auburn went to Baton Rouge and came away with a win.
The 24-19 victory ends a losing streak that dates back to Tommy Tuberville’s first trip to LSU as Auburn’s head coach, and gives coach Bryan Harsin and company confidence and credibility that it will need for the upcoming weeks.
Auburn’s eventual triumph over LSU was not something that looked like it was in the cards early in this game. Midway through the second quarter LSU led the game 13-0 and the visiting Tigers did not seem to have answers.
The defense was allowing LSU quarterback Max Johnson to operate comfortably and find receiver Kayshon Boutte seemingly at will. Auburn’s offense gave quarterback Bo Nix two drives at the helm, and then brought in quarterback TJ Finley for his opportunity.
Neither quarterback was able to put any points on the board.
Then, Coach Harsin brought Bo Nix back into the game after sitting for one series and the game was never the same in Tiger Stadium.
From that point on, Auburn would outscore LSU 24-6 and secure a win that seemed improbable, but was critical for the Tigers’ outlook this season.
Take a look at three things that led to Auburn’s big win over LSU.
Quarterbacks always get more blame than they deserve in losses and more credit than they deserve in wins. That statement is a cliche, but it does not make it untrue.
Bo Nix is no exception to that rule. He has received a ton of flack over his career for inconsistent passing, unwillingness to stay in the pocket, and for general lack of good results in games on the road.
Tonight he lead his team in Baton Rouge in a way that was courageous, inspiring, and ultimately brought about a win that Auburn needed badly.
Nix was able to take in stride the fact that TJ Finley got an opportunity in the game, the reality that Auburn pass catchers dropped at least five of his attempts throughout the contest, and the difficulty of evading the nation’s top pass rush entering the matchup.
The performance from the junior quarterback was neither perfect, nor always pretty. But it was something more. It was gutsy, tenacious, and at times mesmerizing.
Saturday night in Tiger Stadium Nix turned into something that reminded viewers of Archie Manning, Jonny Manziel, or Harry Houdini. Bo Nix evaded, dodged, and scrambled all over the field and repeatedly found Auburn receivers downfield for big plays for the final two and a half quarters of the game.
Nix finished the game passing for 255 yards and one touchdown, while also leading Auburn in rushing with 74 yards and a touchdown.
Nix showed his athleticism and grit that has been on display for years already on The Plains. But he also played with confidence and conviction in decision making that enabled him to play his best game in a big spot since his freshman year.
The beginning of this game looked a lot like what Tiger fans have gotten used to this year. The LSU passing offense shredded the Auburn defense for more than 100 yards and a touchdown on the opening possession of the game.
LSU quarterback Max Johnson repeatedly found stellar receiver Kayshon Boutte all over the field early in the game. The Bayou Bengals did a great job of spreading the ball around, but the key to success for them was that Boutte was the best player on the field for the first two quarters.
However, as the game went on, things began to change. Auburn’s defensive line, led by Colby Wooden, Eku Leota, and Derick Hall started to get a little bit of pressure on the quarterback in the second quarter.
Over the final three quarters of play, the Auburn defense didn’t allow a touchdown, sacked the LSU quarterback three times, held the opposing quarterback to a completion percentage of about 50 percent, and conceded less than 25 yards rushing.
The Auburn defense responded to a disappointing start with a toughness and tenacity that allowed them to play winning football in key moments. Auburn’s defense stepped up and did their part to come away victorious in Baton Rouge.
It won’t always work this way, but Coach Bryan Harsin’s choices paid off against LSU. The head man’s aggressive decision making fueled a comeback win that Auburn fans won’t soon forget.
The Tigers’ offense successfully converted fourth down on two drives in the second quarter that led to 10 critical points.
Auburn’s coaching staff made the decision to start Bo Nix, but give TJ Finley a series to lead the team as well. Once Nix re-entered the game, he went on a tear of play that came out of nowhere and sparked the offense.
Coach Harsin called for an onside kick to begin the second half. The Tigers did not make the recovery, but the defense responded by holding LSU to a field goal even though they had a short field.
Auburn had an aggressive plan and played to win the game. That was exactly what the Tigers needed to get the win in Baton Rouge that was long overdue.
Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers.