It’s LSU week.
If you were an Auburn Tiger fan in the 1990s and before, that didn’t mean much. It was almost like saying “Aw heck, we got Arkansas now”. The Tigers and Tigers didn’t play much. Even now, they’ve met just north of 50 times. It was never really much of an interesting game. LSU wasn’t good for a while, Auburn wasn’t great, there wasn’t really any real skin in the game until the turn of the century.
Once that happened, and once Tommy Tuberville put a Defense Against the Dark Arts job curse on the rivalry, things have heated up. In case you’re not a youngin’, I’ll give you context. So, in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, it’s revealed that Lord Voldemort came to Dumbledore to ask for a job teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. Dumbledore didn’t give him the post, so the position was cursed and they were never able to keep a teacher longer than a year.
In 1999, Tommy Tuberville beat the ever-loving hell out of LSU to send them into a coaching change, he smoked cigars on the field, and we’ve never been able to beat them in that infernal building since. It’s a perfect parallel.
Over the years, Auburn has lost in some really dumb ways in Baton Rouge. I hate to make you relive this, but...
2001 - 9/11 forces the game to be moved after the Iron Bowl. LSU hits its stride by then, Damon Duval fights the band, we lose.
2003 - No chance. LSU rolls us up and wins the national championship.
2005 - John Vaughn misses five field goals including one to win at the horn and the game-tying kick in overtime. We lost.
2007 - Les Miles inexplicably goes for the touchdown with a second to play when a chip shot field goal would have won it. They score and win on the way to another national championship.
2009 - Chizik’s first year is a disaster in Baton Rouge. Night game and we’re overmatched.
2011 - LSU marches toward a conference title and we’re an empty team without the core of the 2010 group.
2013 - Auburn hadn’t hit its stride yet and we give up three quick touchdowns before playing well in the second half.
2015 - Leonard Fournette rolls through us. Enough said.
2017 - We blow a 20-0 lead and lose, but then regroup and win the SEC West.
As you can see, it’s been a thing. However, this is our chance to embrace what’s become of our recent history.
There’s a positive to what’s happened, and it’s that we can’t be hurt by a loss in Baton Rouge. Remember in Fight Club when Tyler Durden laughs as he’s getting beaten up by Lou? That’s gotta be us. What outcome tomorrow would hurt you? A last second touchdown? See 2007. Absolute failure on our part to perform simple tasks? See 2005. An LSU romp? See 2003, 2011, and 2015. The slow poisoning burn of a collapse? 2017.
You can’t possibly have thicker skin than what we’ve got right now from this series. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, and we’re aware that there’s no way to get hurt tomorrow, it’s time to see what we can do to win.
KEYS TO VICTORY
The first one’s easy. LSU has maybe the best offense in the country. To keep them off the field, we have to do one thing.
Turn their asses over.
The next one’s not far off, either. Derrick Brown is probably the best Auburn defensive lineman since Nick Fairley (and he might be better). Fairley had a fantastic game against LSU in 2010, and we need Brown to do what we know he can...
Put Joe Burrow in the dirt.
Do those two things, and we’ll slow down LSU’s offense. If we can manage it, we can’t allow the big play like we did in Gainesville. Florida’s three touchdowns came on drives spanning five total plays. If LSU is going to score touchdowns, we have to make them go on long drives. I don’t know if our offense can keep up in a shootout.
Speaking of the offense, they’ll have a big part in this as well.
In Auburn’s best win this season — over Oregon — we saw the grind and clutch play from the offense when we needed it most. Today, the importance of playing well in the most important moments can’t be overstated. Take note from glories of the past, young Nix.
Of course, a fast start like we had against Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M wouldn’t go amiss either.
The point here is going to be to put LSU into a realm that they’re not comfortable with. Their biggest test has been the game at Texas, where the Longhorns gave them everything they could handle. Other than that, they’ve gotten to rest up, get fat, and hopefully get cocky.
Look, this won’t be easy. It’s going to be the toughest game until the Iron Bowl. We have the huge weight of history going against us, but so do they. If we lose, so what? The streak continues another two years. If we win? This LSU team is suddenly slipping on marbles. They’re down in the West, with a game at Alabama to go, and suddenly their issues will be much more glaring. They have so much more to lose than we do. That’s why Gus Malzahn and his crew will enter with no fear. I think we’re in for something interesting today, everyone. I just hope I’m right.