The 1997 college football season was 15 years ago, and it was pretty enjoyable for Auburn fans. The Tigers won 10 games, made their first appearance in the SEC Championship Game and went 3-0 against their chief rivals, LSU, Georgia and Alabama*. The first of those three rivalry wins came in a thrilling 31-28 game against LSU in Tiger Stadium. Auburn was ranked No. 12 at the time, and LSU entered the game at No. 10.
The video is a little LSU-heavy, but it's still glorious.
This game was a perfect example of Terry Bowden football: big passing numbers, no run game and not much defense. Auburn compiled 407 yards of offense, 342 of which were thanks to Dameyune Craig's arm. Led by Cecil Collins' 232 yards on the ground -- seriously, that guy may still be running -- LSU racked up 492 yards. It was a back-and-forth game that wasn't decided until time ran out.
Auburn blew an early 14-0 lead and trailed 28-24 with 6:25 left in the game. LSU had just taken over after a missed field goal by Jaret Holmes. Considering the way the Bayou Bengals had been able to run the ball, they seemed to be in good shape to grind out the game. Collins was able to pick up one first down, but an illegal motion penalty two plays later on 2nd-and-10 derailed the drive. After being stopped on 3rd-and-5, LSU punted and gave Auburn the ball at its own 20 with 3:12 remaining.
Craig led Auburn down the field, and with less than a minute to play, the Tigers were looking at a 1st-and-goal from the LSU 6. Rusty Williams rushed up the middle for four yards, and on second down, LSU was called for 12 men on the field. On the next play, Williams leaped over the line and scored the game-winning touchdown with :30 showing on the scoreboard. LSU attempted a 64-yard field goal on the game's final play, but it was blocked.
The win vaulted Auburn to a No. 8 ranking, and the Tigers would be ranked as high as No. 6 before losing at home to Florida. After missing out on an SEC title to Peyton Manning's Tennessee team by one point -- God, that still hurts -- the Tigers defeated Clemson in the Peach Bowl, securing their first 10-win season since 1993. Unfortunately, we all know what happened in 1998, but there's no need to bring that up.
Auburn Statistical Leaders
Passing -- Craig, 45-23-0, 342 yards, two touchdowns long: 42 yards, sacked five times
Rushing -- Williams, 14 carries, 47 yards, two touchdowns, long: 15 yards, 3.4 yards per carry
Receiving -- Tyrone Goodson, six receptions, 127 yards, zero touchdowns, long: 34 yards
Defense -- Takeo Spikes, 11 tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, one interception
LSU Statistical Leaders
Passing -- Herb Tyler, 21-6-2, 115 yards, one touchdown, long: 38 yards, sacked three times
Rushing -- Collins, 27 carries, 232 yards, two touchdowns, long: 48 yards, 8.6 yards per carry
Receiving -- Larry Foster, three receptions, 48 yards, zero touchdowns, long: 19 yards
Defense -- Raion Hill, 10 tackles, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery
*Well, 3-1. Back then, Auburn still played Florida every season, and that rivalry was bigger than Auburn-LSU. But thanks to conference expansion, Auburn-Florida has seen its demise as a rivalry. And that's why we hate conference expansion.