Auburn vs. LSU: A Primer and a Prediction

My first exposure to LSU football emanated from the studios of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. WWL radio was situated in the venerable old gal. The station was found at 870 on your AM dial. Heck, what was FM back then? Did it even exist? This was in the early 60′s.

My family attended an average of about three Auburn games per season. The radio was our prime source for football information and live games.There was usually only one college game each week on TV. My daddy and I would often listen to the Auburn game in the afternoon and the LSU game at night. When we did go to Auburn I would stretch out in the back seat on the way home, we didn’t have seat belts either, and take in the other Tigers game from that position.

Great radio announcers are a dying breed. They should be able to paint a vivid picture of the game for their listeners. I could “see” LSU head coach Charlie McClendon’s Chinese Bandits, the term for the Tiger defense, as they swarmed a ball carrier. I could smell Death Valley’s turf. The commercials made me wonder about places like Ville Platte and Bogalusa, LA.

Even though I was a die hard Auburn fan, I dreamed of attending a game in Baton Rogue at night. We didn’t even have lights in Jordan-Hare Stadium until 1981. Coach Shug Jordan was adamant that college football should be played on real grass in the daytime.

My dream of attending a game in the Red Stick after dark finally happened in 1988. The undefeated and fourth ranked Auburn Tigers were 4-0. LSU had been beaten and was not ranked. The game was a defensive slug out. Auburn clung to a tenuous 6-0 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the game. LSU found itself with a fourth and goal at the Auburn eleven yard line. Auburn only had to muster a great pass rush one more time. They did not. Tommy Hodson hit Eddie Fuller in stride as he cruised into the end zone. Tiger Stadium exploded. The game has come to be known as the Earthquake Game. The noise caused a seismograph, in a nearby campus building, to register as an earthquake. My heart was completely broken as Auburn’s hopes for a national championship evaporated in the oppressive humidity of the October Louisiana night. Final score… LSU 7, Auburn 6.

I have not gotten over that game to this day.

The series is replete with oddities and bizarre occurrences.

There was the 1994 “interception” game and the 1996 contest when Auburn’s old basketball arena, The Barn, went up in flames. I won’t even talk about the 2005 and 2007 games. Voodoo! Pure and simple.

The 2004 and 2010 games were major turning points in Auburn’s march to national championships. Yes, I count the 2004 season as a mythical National Championship.They were proclaimed such by People’s Choice. Auburn was the best team in the country that year.

We will move on to this year’s matchup shortly after a quick look back at last week’s game against LA Tech.

One ex-Auburn quarterback called the homecoming clash a “glorified scrimmage”. That pretty much sums it up. Auburn was expected to dispose of the Bulldogs without a great deal of difficulty. They did.

Nick Marshall had a good day completing 10 of 17 passes and rushing for over 100 yards. Quan Bray was a force of nature. He scored three touchdowns and one of them was a 76 yard punt return. The other two came on superb passes caught. Duke Williams also made a circus catch for a TD.

The most impressive aspect of Auburn’s win was, once again, the defense. This unit is truly making great strides toward becoming one of the nation’s best. Hat’s off to Auburn’s defensive coaches Ellis Johnson, Charlie Harbison, Rodney Garner and Melvin Smith.

Ok, Auburn and LSU. Auburn has been made an 8 point favorite. The game will be televised on ESPN at 7 PM EDT. LSU is 4-1 with wins over Wisconsin, Sam Houston State, UL Monroe and New Mexico State. Their lone loss was to Mississippi State in Baton Rouge. Auburn is 4-0 with its wins coming over Arkansas, San Jose State, Kansas State and, as mentioned, LA Tech.

Auburn is ranked number 5 in both polls. LSU comes in at number 15 in each of the two.

The visiting Tigers are young but very talented. They are big and strong and fast as we have come to expect a Les Miles team to be. Auburn is big and strong and fast and laden with seasoned veterans. This is crucial .

LSU will start a freshman, Brandon Harris, at quarterback. He will be starting his first game in one of the most hostile environments in all of college football, Jordan-Hare Stadium at night. Baptism by fire. This is crucial also.

And I can’t help but think the Tigers from Alabama retain a very bitter taste in their mouth from their only regular season loss last year. They went down, 35-21, in Louisiana and it was a turning point in their season. They grew up and became a team on that rainy night on the bayou.

This is one of those games that could come down to turnovers. Auburn has been very good in taking the ball away from the opponent. Expect their front seven to rattle the young QB and help force a couple of picks.

When it’s all said and done, the host Tigers should be able to put the visiting Tigers away after yet another bruising battle between the two SEC West powers.

Auburn 31, LSU 20

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