BATON ROUGE - LSU can party like it's 1999!
No. 11 Auburn dominated LSU so much through most of the first half in taking a 20-0 lead that its first win at Tiger Stadium since 1999 looked certain.
But it was not.
All the touchdown-underdog Tigers proceeded to do was outscore Auburn, 27-3, from the 12:49 mark of the second quarter on for a stunning, 27-23 upset of Auburn. And it was time to celebrate LSU's greatest comeback in a Southeastern Conference game likely in history or at least as far back as 1949. In-game scores before that year are sketchy so it was not known if LSU had ever come back from more than 20 to win an SEC game in Tiger Stadium.
"It was everything you dream about with an LSU football game," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. "Obviously, what a great win. I knew they were going to keep on playing. I'm so happy."
Redshirt freshman kicker Connor Culp nailed a 42-yard field goal with 2:36 to play to give LSU (5-2, 2-1 SEC) a 24-23 lead, and he added another one from 36 yards with 38 seconds left for the 27-23 final. LSU had just stuffed Auburn on its previous possession with a sack by outside linebacker Arden Key of quarterback Jarett Stidham for a 2-yard loss on fourth and 10 from Auburn's 36.
LSU senior D.J. Chark from Alexandria atoned for his first quarter fumble deep in Auburn territory that led to a 10-0 Auburn lead by returning a punt 75 yards for a touchdown to get the Tigers within 23-21 with 14:33 to play in the game.
"You could see the wall happening," Orgeron said. "It was a great play."
Chark went backwards a bit, then found a seam down the Auburn sideline for the score, setting up the Tigers' finish as the LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda threw a fourth quarter shutout for the second straight week.
"I thought Dave Aranda had ice in his veins today," Orgeron said.
The season making victory came on the same day LSU's 2007 national championship team was honored at halftime during its 10-year reunion weekend.
"What a tremendous honor to have those guys with us," Orgeron said.
The Tigers pulled to within 23-14 of Auburn with 32 seconds to go in the first half on a terrific, diving, 14-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Russell Gage. Quarterback Danny Etling led Gage deep into the end zone for the score as Gage stretched out completely to make the grab.
The play climaxed an excellent two-minute offense display by the Tigers, who moved 75 yards in eight plays in 1:49 for the score. Etling was 5-of-5 passing on the drive for 67 yards and finished the half 8 of 12 for 122 yards. He finished the game with 13 completions in 24 attempts for 206 yards. Chark caught five passes for 150 yards.
Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) took a 23-7 lead on a 26-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson with 2:16 to play in the second quarter. Auburn went up 20-0 with 12:50 to play before halftime on a 48-yard field goal by Carlson.
LSU fought back with the 70-yard run by Gage to the Auburn 7. But the Tigers soon faced a fourth and goal from the 1, and wide receiver Stephen Sullivan scored on another jet sweep to get the Tiger within 20-7 with 9:19 to go before halftime. The Tigers drove 91 yards in six plays for the score.
Auburn went up 17-0 lead with 3:30 to play in the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by tailback Kenyon Johnson. LSU had just forced a third-and-13 when nose tackle Greg Gilmore sacked Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, but Stidham threw a simple screen pass to wide receiver Ryan Davis that shredded LSU's defense for a 52-yard gain to the 4-yard line.
Stidham finished 7 of 13 for 159 yards in the first half.
Auburn took a 3-0 lead on a 46-yard field goal by Carlson after Auburn drove 46 yards in six plays on the first possession of the game.
LSU came right back when a pressured Etling completed a long pass to Chark for 39 yards to the Auburn 36-yard line, but Chark fumbled when strong safety Stephen Roberts stripped the ball. Cornerback Carlton Davis recovered and returned the fumble 12 yards. Two plays later, Stidham hit wide receiver Will Hastings fora 49-yard touchdown and 10-0 lead with 11:31 to go in the first quarter.
Had Etling led Chark perfectly, he may have scored for a 7-3 LSU lead. Etling did do well amid two rushing defenders to get he ball to Chark, who had to come back slightly for the ball. The fumble turned what could have been a 7-3 LSU lead or 3-3 tie into a 10-0 deficit, and Auburn was on its way.
SIX DEGREES OF SCORES: If you do the scoreboard math or ever played the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game or just like to fantasize, LSU looked like an upset winner over No. 11 Auburn entering the game Saturday afternoon in Tiger Stadium.
Clemson defeated Auburn, 14-6, on Sept. 9, but lost, 27-24, Friday night at Syracuse, which lost, 35-26, at LSU on Sept. 23. So LSU should beat Auburn Saturday afternoon, right?
Not necessarily. But LSU (4-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference), which is a seven point underdog to No. 11 Auburn (5-1, 3-0 SEC), would've taken any kind of perceived advantage it could muster, particularly since the game is not at night. Kickoff was at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
Then again, LSU lost 24-21 on Sept. 30 to Troy, which lost 19-8 to then 1-4 South Alabama last Wednesday night. South Alabama has 47-27 and 34-16 losses to Ole Miss and Louisiana Tech, respectively.
And get this. Ole Miss, which beat a team (South Alabama) that beat a team (Troy) that beat LSU, lost to Auburn, 44-23, last week, so Auburn should beat LSU handily, right?
INJURY REPORT: LSU senior left tackle K.J. Malone was ruled out for Saturday's game against Auburn as he was seen on the sidelines in crutches. He was injured last week at Florida. True freshman Saahdiq Charles started at left tackle. Sophomore Adrian Magee started at right tackle for injured regular starter Toby Weathersby.