Halloween Nightmare! LSU is beat out of its wits at Auburn, 48-11
AUBURN, Ala. — LSU true freshman quarterback TJ Finley and his teammates turned into pumpkins on Halloween afternoon, and the Tigers suffered their worst loss in 24 years, falling at unranked Auburn, 48-11, on Saturday.
LSU's 37-point loss was its worst since falling at No. 1 Florida by 43 points, 56-13 in 1996.
Finley soared in his first start last week in a home, 52-24 win over South Carolina, but his carriage crashed in Jordan-Hare Stadium as his first interception set up a touchdown and his fumble moments later was returned for another one as Auburn went on to take a 21-3 lead at halftime.
It was the first half in which LSU did not score a touchdown since losing to Alabama, 29-0, in 2018.
Another Finley interception in the third quarter set up another Auburn touchdown for a 35-3 LSU deficit at the 8:55 mark.
The Tigers dropped to 2-3 on the season, falling below .500 this late in the year for the first time since they were 2-6 on Oct. 30, 1999, on their way to a 3-8 season.
LSU also suffered its third loss of a season at its earliest point since 2001 when the Tigers fell to Ole Miss, 35-24, on Oct. 27 to drop to 4-3 on the season.
The Tigers, who started the season at 1-2, will have an open week to regroup yet again this season before hosting No. 2 Alabama, which is 6-0 after a 41-0 win over Mississippi State Saturday night. State, by the way, has not won since winning at LSU, 44-34, on Sept. 26 and fell to 1-4 after its second game without a touchdown after scoring five in Tiger Stadium.
LSU then plays at Arkansas and at No. 8 Texas A&M before hosting Ole Miss and closing the regular season at No. 9 Florida. LSU will likely be favored against only Arkansas and Ole Miss, and maybe not against Arkansas.
Auburn improved to 4-2 on the season by snapping a three-game losing streak to LSU. Auburn’s previous win over LSU was 18-13 in 2016 at Jordan-Hare.
It was Auburn's largest margin of victory in the LSU series
Finley flounders in second start
Finley looked nothing like he did last week when he completed 17 of 21 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-24 win over South Carolina. He was struggling at 13-of-24 passing for 143 yards and the two interceptions midway in the third quarter when he was replaced by fellow true freshman Max Johnson.
Finley suffered some dropped passes early by wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and tailback Chris Curry and was often pressured, but he was also off target when not pressured.
After a scoreless first quarter, he overthrew Marshall by a lot, and cornerback Nehemiah Pritchett came up with it and returned it 44 yards to the 4-yard line. Two plays later, Auburn led 7-0 with 12:13 left in the second quarter.
Auburn made it 14-0 when linebacker Christian Tutt picked up a Finley fumble after a sack by linebacker Derrick Hall and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown with 5:27 to go before halftime.
After trailing 21-3 at the half, Auburn drove to a 28-3 lead, then defensive end Big Kat Bryant intercepted Finley at the LSU 25 to set up another touchdown for a 35-3 lead midway in the third quarter.
Bring Back Brennan
Suddenly, junior starting quarterback Myles Brennan, who opened the Tigers’ first three games and played well, is being welcomed back. He will have another week to mend his pulled abdomen before LSU plays again against Alabama at home on Nov. 14.
LSU ran on empty
The Tigers’ running game by committee managed just 35 yards rushing in the first half and had just 32 after three quarters on 21 carries as it could not help Finley’s cause. John Emery Jr. was LSU’s leading rusher through three quarters with 27 yards on nine carries.
Defense actually improved
LSU’s much-criticized defense actually threw a shutout in the first quarter and kept the Tigers in the game for a while. Auburn quarterback Bo Nix soon started finding gaping openings in the secondary, though. He finished 18-of-24 passing for 300 yards and three touchdowns, and he rushed 11 times for 81 yards and another touchdown.
How about a bowl ban now?
LSU has three losses and will likely be underdogs against Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida. Arkansas could be a difficult game, too, if the Tigers do not improve. And who knows how many Ole Miss will score against LSU behind new coach Lane Kiffin?
The Tigers conceivably could fail to be bowl eligible by the normal standard of .500 or better for the first time since 1999. The NCAA previously lifted any bowl requirements for any teams this season because of COVID-19.
But this would be a good time for LSU to ask the NCAA to include a bowl ban in its self-imposed penalties for the major violation of $180,000 payments to former offensive lineman Vadal Alexander's father from 2012-17. Because, LSU is likely not headed to the worst possible bowl.
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