Posted on October 15, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When LSU was spanked by Mississippi State earlier this season, many fans began to wonder if Ed Orgeron was the right choice to take over for Les Miles. But the season was only three games old, so the rumblings were not too loud. But then the team lost to Troy—and they became deafening.
The fans wanted him gone. GoFundMe accounts were started to help cover Orgeron’s buyout. The general perception was the Tigers were done even though the season was only five games old. Then they took down then-No. 21 Florida, 17-16. Many fans were still not happy. While Florida was ranked, the Gators have plenty of issues (especially on offense).
A win is a win is a win, no matter who it comes against. Beating a ranked opponent may not satisfy everyone, but it helps keep the hounds at bay. However, a win over the No. 10 Auburn Tigers? That should quiet even the loudest of cries for Orgeron’s head.
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But in the first half of the game Saturday it looked like LSU was not going to have a chance. Auburn scored on its first four possession to take a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter.
On its first three possessions, LSU had a fumble and one first down. It wasn’t looking good. But then LSU got the break they needed. On first and ten from their own 23-yard line, Russell Gage tore off a 70-yard run and got LSU inside the Auburn ten-yard line. Five plays later Stephen Sullivan got LSU on the board with a one-yard touchdown run.
One big play makes the score look better than the game had been going, but it doesn’t get LSU back in the game. They needed more—and late in the first half they finally got it with an eight-play touchdown drive that closed the gap to 23-14.
After appearing out of the game following the first quarter, LSU was now very much in the game. They just had to figure out what was working on offense, keep doing it, and then shut down Auburn’s offense for two more quarters.
And they did.
After allowing Auburn to generate 290 yards of offense, 13 first downs, and 23 points, the LSU defense buckled down in the second half. They held Auburn scoreless and allowed only 64 yards of offense (only six passing) and four first downs.
“Defensive coordinator “Dave Aranda had ice in his veins tonight,” Orgeron said after the game (ESPN). “We made some mistakes very early. Other people would have tended to quit. Not us.”
As good as the LSU defense played in the second half, they needed something from the offense if they were going to win the game. Thanks to a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown by D.J. Chark early in the fourth quarter, they didn’t need much.
Which is good, since they didn’t get much.
A defensive stand set LSU up with great field position late in the fourth quarter, on the Auburn 45-yard line. Seven plays later a 42-yard field goal by Connor Culp gave LSU its first lead of the game, 24-23, with 2:36 left to play.
A surprising decision by Auburn to go for it on fourth and ten from their own 25 made it easy for LSU to tack on another field goal to make the final score 27-23, LSU. For the first time since 2014, a top ten that led by 20+ lost to an unranked team. The top ten teams had been 182-0.
Auburn will try to rebound next week against Arkansas. LSU will try to keep the ball rolling against Ole Miss.