Yesterday we wrote an article talking about Auburn playing LSU and the possibility of resetting the year that has been 2020. If a crisp fall Saturday on the Plains culminating in the largest margin of victory in this series by either team doesn’t help turn you into a believer in that theorem, then you need Zakoby McClain to knock some sense into you.
Auburn absolutely destroyed LSU today 48-11 to avenge three straight losses and set karma right in the world. Bo Nix had by far his best game as the Tiger starting quarterback with nearly 400 total yards of offense, and Kevin Steele’s defense suffocated LSU time and again.
Nix’s line? 18-24 through the air for 300 yards, with three touchdowns, including a 91-yard bomb to Anthony Schwartz to highlight the afternoon. He also added 81 yards and a touchdown on the ground on just 11 carries. 381 total yards and four touchdowns. Not bad. The rest of the offense took shape as well and Auburn’s defense rose to the task, hitting hard from the start to set the tone.
Even though the first quarter ended scoreless, Auburn clearly entered today more fired up to play, forcing a three-and-out on LSU’s first drive. Auburn’s first two possessions weren’t anything to write home about, but they ran the ball fairly well, going for seven and nine plays respectively and pinning LSU deep with good punts from Aidan Marshall. On LSU’s third possession, they missed a 56-yard field goal, and Auburn took over with a crisper flow.
Auburn moved into LSU territory, and Nix completed a back shoulder fade to Seth Williams near the goal line, but Derek Stingley popped the ball out of Williams’ grasp and it went through the end zone for a touchback. Just three plays later, LSU quarterback TJ Finley overthrew a pass that landed in the hands of Auburn defensive back Nehemiah Pritchett, who appeared to return it for a pick six, but another review confirmed he stepped out at the five.
.@NehemiahP_2019 with the mitts and the jets. ✌️— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) October 31, 2020
Two plays after that, Nix hit Eli Stove on a little flare pass for the game’s first touchdown, and Auburn led 7-0 with 12:13 to go in the half.
After both sides traded punts, LSU started another possession at their own 20, but on third down, Finley held the ball too long as he got crunched by Derick Hall, and he fumbled the ball. Christian Tutt swooped in, and grabbed it in stride, returning it 20 yards for the score. 14-0 Auburn with 5:27 to play in the half.
Them boys on D goin' CRAAAAAZY. pic.twitter.com/um1ZJgbPDf— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) October 31, 2020
That touchdown was the first of six scores in a row for Auburn, and they tacked on another touchdown in the final minute of the first half on Nix’s second scoring pass of the day. This one went to Ze’Vian Capers on a beautifully-designed play that had Capers wide open in the left side of the end zone.
LSU was able to break their scoreless drought by quickly moving downfield and knocking through a 51-yard field goal as the half expired, but Auburn still held a nice 21-3 advantage at the break. To begin the third quarter, Auburn continued to hammer down, scoring touchdowns on four drives to begin the half.
First, Auburn moved 75 yards to start the third quarter, and Bo Nix tacked on a rushing touchdown to his total with a four-yard scamper to increase the edge to 28-3. Next, Big Kat Bryant intercepted a pass that turned into a Tank Bigsby short touchdown, and then Auburn ate some clock with a 12-play drive that covered 69 yards for another Tank touchdown. With those three in the books, it was 42-3, but the Tigers weren’t done as we began the fourth quarter.
LSU punted on the first play of the fourth quarter and pinned Auburn at its own nine-yard line, but Gus Malzahn decided to go for the kill shot, which Nix executed perfectly to the fastest man in college football.
48-3 at that point, and it was all done. Nix and the starters left the game while Grant Loy and Mark-Antony Richards got to inherit the backfield for almost a quarter. LSU would find the end zone on a long pass from backup Max Johnson to Kayshon Boutte, but this one ended with Auburn taking home a super cathartic 48-11 victory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
After we’ve talked so much lately about how Bo Nix has been almost hindering the team at times, he took a huge step forward with a very efficient game last week at Ole Miss, and then today he had his best outing as the Auburn quarterback.
We went over the stats above, but 18-24 for 300 yards, with 81 yards rushing on 11 carries and four total touchdowns. It was a huge day, and he controlled the game with both his arm and his legs. When LSU blitzed and got pressure, he stood up well and didn’t panic. When he needed to run, he did and did well. His touch was much better today, and he converted the deep bomb to Anthony Schwartz (FINALLY) for the capper to put LSU to sleep.
Today we saw Bo Nix take control, and his elevated play helped the rest of the team have faith in itself. Maybe they’ve started to understand how to play with each other, from the backs to the receivers to the offensive line (which also looked good today despite a few early breakdowns).
Honorable Mention: Zakoby McClain was an absolute monster today. His moniker “The Rolling Ball of Butcher Knives” came into play early and often, and he got the good graces of avoiding an ejection by targeting after the play in question went under review. After that, he took Tim McGraw’s words to heart and lived like he was dying. The first half was his half, and he finished with 9 tackles and a TFL, but he was in on every big stop before this game got out of hand.
PLAY OF THE GAME
I have to pick one? Then it’s the Schwartz bomb, but we’re not married to it.
Other favorites are the Tutt scoop and score (linked above), and just for laughs, look at how much of a hole this offensive line opened against a talented LSU defense when this one was all over.
This is an O-Line appreciation post.— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) October 31, 2020
Like we said above, the offensive line was at times an unnoticed strength today. LSU had been averaging more than 7 tackles for loss per game this year, but ended up with just 5 today. Nix wasn’t sacked once.
We’re 60% of the way through the season, and Auburn gets to take its break now. The Tigers will be off on November 7th for the bye week, but after that it’s back to the road to meet Mississippi State, who’s failed to win since knocking off LSU in the season opener.
Huge win today, everyone. War Eagle!