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Auburn, LSU, and the Case for Resetting 2020

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The SEC’s weirdest rivalry may be what we need.

As we look forward to this afternoon’s Halloween matchup between Auburn and LSU, let’s go back several months and look at a possibility.

March 13th, 2020. Friday, March 13th, 2020.

That was kind of the day when this all hit the fan. Aside from being designated “World Sleep Day”, the news on that particular Friday was vast.

We’d just canceled basketball. Like, it was done. We wouldn’t get to see Auburn defend a conference tournament title and make a return to the NCAA Tournament. No more NBA, either.

Here’s a snippet of the headlines then:

It’s pretty much all bad news, and it’s continued that way for several months. No lie, 2020, and October in particular, have been long and tough.

So, how do we give this thing a hard reset? Can we power cycle it? Does that work?

When you finally get to this point, what can you do but be a little aggressive?

And how does it get more aggressive than trying to combat the miasma of 2020 than by taking a visit to the old backwoods voodoo shop that Auburn and LSU co-own and operate.

Here we are, trying to find solutions for this pandemic and trying year, and the answer was here all along. Just let Auburn and LSU play. We should’ve done this months ago. Spring scrimmage. Best of seven. Apply the magic liberally.

We would’ve wiped this thing out by mid-April.

When you consider the facts, there’s no other way to approach this. Auburn and LSU have played the most unimaginable series in conference history, and the rivalry doesn’t even really date as far back as some other matchups.

Of particular note:

  • 1988 - Stupid idiot Earthquake Game. LSU scores in the closing seconds and the bourbon-induced guttural moans triggered a flimsy seismograph across campus to register. Auburn’s only loss in the regular season. With a win, they would’ve played Notre Dame for a national title.
  • 1994 - Ha! Stupid idiot Curley Hallman!

LSU quarterback Jamie Howard throws three pick sixes among his five interceptions in the fourth quarter, and Auburn erases a 23-9 deficit to win 30-26 and keep the winning streak alive.

  • 1995 - Stupid idiot Phantom Whistle game. Patrick Nix got sacked for a safety when he heard a whistle from the stands and stopped during the play. Auburn loses 12-6.
  • 1996 - Stupid idiot Barn Burning game. Literally a barn, not like “BARN CHEATIN”. Smoke billowed up from behind the student section but play continued. Auburn got screwed out of a touchdown when a Robert Baker catch was called incomplete. We lose 19-15.
  • 1999 - Cigar Game. Auburn wins in Baton Rouge for the most recent time. Oh why does this number have to start with a 1?? Gross. Tommy Tuberville brings his guys back out onto the field to smoke cigars and curses the Auburn fortunes in Death Valley for decades to come.
  • 2001 - 9/11 Game. Auburn/LSU is set for September 15th, but pushed back because of 9/11. LSU gets stronger as the season goes along, and thwacks us in Baton Rouge. Damon Duval fights a band member.
  • 2004 - Hurricane Game. In the afterglow of Hurricane Ivan, Auburn upends the defending national champions with Jason Campbell’s last minute touchdown to Courtney Taylor. Nick Saban, Will Muschamp, and Jimbo Fisher are all on the LSU sideline.
  • 2005 - Poor John Vaughn. Vaughn misses five field goals, including a doink in overtime to tie it, and Kenny Irons’ 200-yard day is wasted as Auburn loses again in Death Valley.
  • 2006 - The Totally Not Pass Interference Officials Finally Made a Good Call Game. LSU gets unlucky with a controversial no-call on a play late in Auburn territory when Zach Gilbert and Eric Brock get entangled with an LSU receiver. Auburn stops LSU short of the goal line on the final play of the game to win 7-3. Oh, and an LSU fan doused our eagle with a drink and got arrested.
  • 2007 - Les Miles Rabbit’s Foot Game. Instead of going for the easy field goal and certain win, Les Miles elects to throw to the end zone in the closing seconds. The pass is completed, when a bobble may have killed the clock. LSU loses twice during the regular season and still backdoors into the national championship.
  • 2010 - Cam Newton Heisman Game. If the Iron Bowl cemented the Heisman that year for our large adult son, this was the game that vaulted him to the top of the polls. He runs for 217 yards and two scores, with one the scintillating affair where he dodges nearly every member of the LSU defense. Auburn goes to #1 in the country after this win and takes the national title a couple months later.
  • 2016 - The You’re Fired Game. Loser of this game was pretty much guaranteed to fire the coach. Auburn gets six Daniel Carlson field goals and LSU appears to score the game-winning touchdown on the final play of regulation, but a review shows that the offense wasn’t set and the clock had run out before the snap. Les Miles gets fired the next morning.
  • 2017 - Gus Hotseat Part 1,000. Auburn builds a 20-0 lead in Baton Rouge but tightens up and lets it slip away in the second half, falling 27-23. Auburn wins out in the regular season and wins the SEC West. This game, however, falls into one of the 3-4 most inexcusable losses under Gus Malzahn along with 2014 Texas A&M, 2016 Georgia, and 2018 Tennessee (and now 2020 South Carolina).
  • 2018 - Pass Interference Revenge for LSU. Auburn blows another double digit lead and Joe Burrow leads a game-winning drive that culminates in a walk-off field goal for LSU and a 22-21 final score.
  • 2019 - Nobody comes close to LSU in the regular season except for Auburn in Baton Rouge. In the end, a penalty on LSU allows LSU to run out the clock and preserve the win on the way to a perfect season.

See, if we’d just had a few of these happen in March, the Butterfly Effect of mojo would be more than capable of wiping out COVID, bringing back Kobe, dousing the wildfires, and doling out another round of stimulus checks to the country.

Or, we could be in for something truly epic tomorrow. Let’s consider the facts again.

Gone are the ultra-talented offensive cogs from last season for LSU. Heisman winner Joe Burrow, along with his trusty skill position players, most of his offensive line, and his wunderkind passing game coordinator are all in new spots (the NFL). Steve Ensminger is in charge of the show once again. Dave Aranda is leading Baylor, while people are laughing at Bo Pelini’s Baton Rouge buyout considering how poor the LSU defense has been this year.

They lost to Mike Leach, who hasn’t won another game yet. Think about that. MIKE LEACH MADE LSU WALK THE PLANK AND THEN DID SO HIMSELF. Mutually assured destruction from the Pirate. They also lost to Missouri and first year coach Eli Drinkwitz. LSU looked great against South Carolina, but that was at home, at night, where you can never pick against the Bayou Bengals unless you’re Troy.

Meanwhile... you know how this season has gone for Auburn.

Earlier this year, our own James Jones wrote a nice little ditty examining the history of BARN CHEATIN’. That only reviewed our controversial wins against the Tide after we were accused of nothing more than playing “gotchya and grabass” by the full diaper havers across the state.

Now, however, they may not be alone. Arkansas has joined Club Barn Cheatin’ —

Then Ole Miss joined the group with these shirts and the sympathy of Alabama beat writers. It’s an alliance!

C’mon, you know we only cheat by funneling cash to star players through their family’s church and then strong-arming the NCAA into keeping them eligible by having a large yella man who likes to hit stuff with his own brand of 2x4s. Can’t you tell that’s how we run this game by all of the blue chip recruits we’ve gotten lately? Huh? Oh.

Anyway, Auburn has had some major buildup coming in the form of karma against LSU. The double digit leads blown over the past two years, with all the pass interference calls going against Auburn in 2018 are sure to somehow Yeerk their way into the back judge’s ear and force him to throw a flag on the purple Tigers. It’s going to happen. We’re going to get an all-SEC West alliance of Barn Cheatin’ going on in 2020.

Now, I’d love that, because it means we can win all of our division games, pissing off EVERYBODY and getting some victories while we’re at it in the year that doesn’t matter.

Let’s boil down the wild games in this series to a few choice words.

Photo finish. Last second. Controversial. Turnovers. Missed kicks. Poor clock management. Crowd involvement. Heisman winners. Natural disasters. Nicotine.

Now, to create the perfect outcome for tomorrow’s game, adding in Halloween and a full moon and a pandemic and the election.

Auburn and LSU will play a perfectly fun first half. There will be a bunch of points scored because neither defense is really all that good. LSU hits two or three big pass plays, and Auburn gets a breakaway run from Tank Bigsby and a long touchdown through the air. There will be a gadget play that works and one that blows up spectacularly. I have no designation on which team those happen to.

After halftime, it’s a close game, but LSU builds their lead in the third quarter with some defensive adjustments and another long pass play for a score. As the fourth quarter starts, Auburn trails by two scores. Then the turnovers happen. Whoever’s playing quarterback tomorrow will throw a pick, leading to a score for Auburn, and then in the final five minutes, Bo Nix and Tank Bigsby lead a methodical drive down the field and Auburn goes up by a point.

LSU will have a couple minutes left to salvage a win, needing only a field goal. They quickly move into range for the kick, but in their greed they go for the end zone from the Auburn 25. Offensive pass interference is called on a play where both the receiver and defender are hand-fighting, and the 15-yard penalty moves LSU back to where only a 57-yard field goal would win the game. With just five seconds left, Ed Orgeron trots out the kicking team, but the kick misses. Auburn roughs the kicker but doesn’t get called for it. Tigers (blue ones) win.

In the aftermath, Donald Trump criticizes Ed Orgeron for bad coaching on Twitter, and says that Big Ten football is way better (they love him in Iowa!). The southern states revolt and go blue. LSU joins Barn Cheatin’, Inc. and as a full moon sets on Halloween on the Plains, 2020 is put back in order.