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The streak continues: LSU comes back to beat No. 10 Auburn in Baton Rouge (again)

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18 years. It’s been 18 looooong years since Auburn beat LSU in Baton Rouge, a streak that dates back to before Tigers on either side were even born.

Despite their best efforts, the visitors from Alabama will have to see that streak hit the two decade mark after a crazy second half comeback by the home team led to a 42-yard field goal by Connor Culp that ended up giving LSU a remarkable 27-23 victory to shake up the SEC and College Football Playoff races.

Auburn struck first on Saturday afternoon to establish a pretty good early tone to the game, scoring on four of their first five drives to jump out to a 23-7 lead in the second quarter. Given how well the offense was rolling and the ability of their defense, it was looking pretty good for the No. 10 team in the country to finally exorcise some demons.

Not so fast Tigers, the… uh, other Tigers were not about to roll over.

Grabbing some momentum behind big play machine Russell Gage (71 yards rushing, 28 receiving), LSU seemed to snap out of their offense malaise and make things interesting with each passing drive. QB Danny Etling found Gage just before halftime in the corner of the end zone for a key score and then the team really made things interesting when D.J. Chark returned a punt 75 yards to start the action in the 4th quarter.

That cut the lead to two points but the team wasn’t done yet. LSU got the ball again after a bad punt and moved right into field goal position, which Culp promptly nailed following a timeout in order to give the team the lead. The kicker later tacked on another shorter field goal after the defense forced a turnover on downs to all but seal the sweetest victory of Ed Orgeron’s short tenure as the full-time head coach.

While the outcome will be talked about quite a bit around the state of Louisiana for the crazy comeback and nobody-saw-it-coming win streak for LSU, things will not be quite so pleasant for Gus Malzahn on his return home after Auburn managed just 55 yards in the second half before a few plays at the very end. The Tigers simply didn’t move the ball at all after emerging from the locker room and saw their normally top-notch defense give up several big plays down the stretch.

The loss puts Auburn behind the eight-ball in the playoff chase as well, although it won’t completely knock them out of the SEC West race provided they get a little help and can beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl at the end of the year. Based on what we saw Saturday though, that will be quite a stretch after some impressive results following their first loss of the year.

Either way, on a wild weekend in college football, a third top 10 team went down on the road to add even more drama to the season as we hit the halfway mark.

No. 10 Auburn holds comfortable halftime lead over LSU in Baton Rouge

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It’s been nearly two decades since Auburn won in Baton Rouge and the visiting Tigers are making sure they reverse their fortune early on in their annual meeting with LSU on Saturday afternoon, jumping out to a 23-14 halftime lead and not really looking back.

Gus Malzahn’s crew scored on their first four drives of the game, knocking home a long field goal to kick off the scoring and then really seizing control when quarterback Jarrett Stidham found a wide open Will Hastings for a 49 yard touchdown. The Auburn signal-caller finished the half with an impressive 159 yards on just seven completions on a day where there was no much resistance from the LSU defense.

That wasn’t all the Tigers from Alabama were able to do on offense however, as Kerryon Johnson scored his FBS-leading 13th rushing touchdown of the season and was already up to 116 yards on the ground as well. In short, not much could go wrong when Auburn had the ball.

The same could not be said for their opposite numbers. LSU failed to get much of anything going until the second quarter when they busted open a jet sweep that went for 70 yards by Russell Gage. The receiver added a touchdown just before the end of the half on an incredible diving effort while teammate Stephen Sullivan scored off a jet sweep on 4th and goal two drives prior for the team’s only points.

It’s been a point of emphasis this week to note that Auburn hasn’t won at Death Valley since 1999 and let’s just say that the best opportunity the team has had for a victory is certainly looking like it after a half of play on Saturday afternoon.

LSU clinging to slim lead over No. 21 Florida at halftime in the Swamp

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Despite a host of injuries, one ejection for targeting, and a number of negative plays, LSU looks like they’re shaking off that loss to Troy a week ago to give No. 21 Florida quite the battle in the Swamp — taking a 10-3 lead into the locker room at halftime of a game that won’t win any awards for watchability.

 

The Tigers struck first in the waning minutes of the first quarter with one of the team’s best drives of the season. Despite an ejection for targeting on an LSU wide receiver, the offense still mounted an impressive 11 play, 86 yard scoring march before Russell Gage took it in untouched from 30 yards out off a jet sweep. The team’s other possessions were nothing to write home about however, as quarterback Danny Etling threw for 71 yards (mostly check-downs) and running back Derrius Guice did not seem to be 100 percent after rushing for just 12 yards on six carries. Devin White led the way on defense with seven tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss.

The Gators were not exactly tearing things up offensively either despite averaging right around six yards per play in the half. A promising 70 yard drive stalled out in the red zone and resulted in a field goal but at least there were some signs of life from Feleipe Franks (5-8, 67 yards) and company to make things a little more interesting when the third quarter kicks off.

Still, that first half was not the most watchable of games we’ve seen in the SEC this season as it was all about a handful of big plays and a bunch of defensive stands. Adjustments will be key for whoever wants to win this one but the fierce rivalry between LSU and Florida does not seem to be letting up given how closely this has been played so far.

Troy snaps No. 25 LSU’s 49-game home non-conference winning streak

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It had to end at some point, but it wasn’t supposed to end like this.

The Mighty Trojans of Troy entered Tiger Stadium as 20-point underdogs and beat No. 25 LSU, 24-21.

Troy opened the game by forcing a Nick Brossette fumble on LSU’s first play, then taking a 7-0 lead five plays later on a 1-yard Brandon Silvers plunge. The score remained there until the final play of the first half, when Evan Leggassey punched in a 37-yard field goal to give the Trojans a 10-0 lead at the break — a kick that came only after a replay review discovered two seconds remaining in the half, after both teams had already headed to their respective locker rooms.

The lead expanded to 17-0 on the opening drive of the second half as Troy moved 75 yards in six plays, culminating in a man-up 1-yard Jordan Chunn plunge on fourth-and-goal. Troy had a chance to completely close the door on LSU when it recovered an LSU fumble deep inside its own territory, but the Trojans immediately gave the ball back with a fumble of their own inside the 10-yard line, and LSU notched its first touchdown of the game two plays later.

No matter, Marcus Jones intercepted a Myles Brennan pass (he briefly replaced an injured Danny Etling, who later returned) and the Troy offense moved 64 yards, ending in the Trojans’ third rushing touchdown of the night, a 7-yard Josh Anderson burst to give Troy a 24-7 lead with 8:14 left in the fourth quarter.

It was at that point that those who assembled at Tiger Stadium decided to bail.

LSU scored quickly in response, finding pay dirt on a 34-yard strike from Etling to Russell Gage, pulling the Tigers within 10 with 7:41 to play.

Troy appeared ready to put the game away with another touchdown, but Chunn fumbled at the LSU 15-yard line, and LSU answered by moving 92 yards in 13 plays, pulling within 24-21 on a 20-yard strike from Etling to Foster Moreau with 1:59 to play. Troy expired all but the final 18 seconds off the clock after recovering an onside kick, but Etling’s last-gasp pass was intercepted at the Troy 37-yard line with five seconds left.

The loss is LSU’s first non-conference loss in Tiger Stadium since falling 13-10 to UAB on Sept. 23, 2000, Nick Saban‘s first season in Baton Rouge. It was Troy’s first win over an SEC opponent since toppling Mississippi State 21-9 on Oct. 13, 2001, ending an 18-game losing streak, and its first win over a ranked team since upending then-No. 17 Missouri on Sept. 9, 2004. But they weren’t in the SEC (at least not then). And while Troy is a solid team at 4-1, this is a team that beat Akron by five points at home a week ago — and LSU just lost to them.

Simply put, it’s the type of loss that would have gotten Les Miles fired — except that happened a year ago, and it would cost LSU $12 million to do the same to Ed Orgeron.