With 12:50 left in the second quarter, Daniel Carlson booted a 48-yard field goal to give Auburn a 20-point lead against LSU in Tiger Stadium. The first quarter-plus of the game on Saturday served to reinforce the narratives forming around the two teams in recent weeks: LSU, which lost to Troy, looked like a mess under Ed Orgeron. Auburn, which had been on a roll on offense, looked like the only challenger to Alabama in the SEC West.
The rest of the game did everything possible to erase those narratives and send the SEC West into further chaos behind Bama. Improbably, LSU came from behind to beat No. 10 Auburn 27-23, with a sterling performance from its defense and big plays from Russell Gage and D.J. Chark.
LSU dominated the second half. It took the lead on a 42-yard Connor Culp field goal with 2:36 left, then got a huge stop. Auburn went nowhere in three plays at its own 25-yard line. Facing fourth-and-10, Gus Malzahn bizarrely burned one of his three timeouts. Auburn went for it, but Donte Jackson broke up a Jarrett Stidham pass.
LSU added another field goal, then ended the game with a fourth-and-10 Arden Key sack of Stidham.
It marked a fitting end to a comeback win in which LSU relentlessly pressured Stidham and shut down the Auburn offense.
The comeback began with a six-play, 90-yard touchdown drive -- led by a 70-yard Gage run -- after the Carlson field goal that put Auburn ahead 20-0. Auburn kicked another field goal, its final points of the game, before halftime, but LSU had enough time to squeeze in a 75-yard touchdown drive, sparked by a 37-yard catch by D.J. Chark. Etling then found Gage for an impressive 14-yard diving TD with 32 seconds left in the second quarter, trimming the lead to nine at halftime.
Auburn punted on its first two second-half possessions. On its third, early in the fourth quarter, Chark field another punt and returned it 75 yards for a game-changing touchdown that got LSU within striking distance.
LSU begins the 4th quarter with a BANG. pic.twitter.com/SkeudkbSKp- CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 14, 2017
After a fast start by the offense, Auburn managed a total of 64 yards in the second half, with five punts in a row, followed by two turnovers on downs. Kerryon Johnson rushed for 156 yards, but Stidham, who had been on fire the past few weeks, completed only 9 of 26 passes for 165 yards, getting very little going after a couple big throws early.
LSU, which has dealt with injuries to the offensive line, Key and star tailback Derrius Guice, got the big plays it needed to support the defense and make the comeback. Chark and Gage stood out, as did a big third-down conversion pass to Guice in Auburn territory to set up the go-ahead field goal. LSU thus completed the comeback, its biggest since … a win over Troy, of all teams, in 2008.
LSU's 20-point comeback win was their largest since overcoming a 28-point deficit vs Troy in 2008.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 14, 2017
Only two weeks ago, Orgeron's first full season appeared set to unravel in horrifying fashion after LSU lost on its home field to Troy. That came after a 30-point road loss to Mississippi State. However, since falling to the Trojans, LSU has responded by edging Florida by a point in The Swamp, and now erasing a 20-point deficit to beat a top-10 Auburn team that had won its first three SEC games 144-47.The comeback burst Auburn's lingering hopes of rallying from its Week 2 loss to Clemson and making a run to the playoff. It also prevented Auburn from winning in Death Valley for the first time since 1999.
LSU's problems might not all be solved, but Saturday afternoon delivered exactly what it wanted: Phenomenal defense, plus big plays in big moments by offensive weapons. The end result? The confidence-boosting home win under Orgeron that LSU so desperately needed.