In a conference known for its fierce rivalries that have a knack for generating instant classics, Auburn vs. LSU is hands-down one of the SEC’s best series. The “Tiger Bowl” has produced plenty of pulse-pounding plays and memorable moments since it became an annual showdown in the early 1990s.
And even though the purple-and-gold Tigers have taken 10 of the 16 meetings in this rivalry since the start of the new millennium, Auburn fans have seen several legendary wins in that time span. Since 2000, two Auburn SEC championship squads saw their seasons take off after beating LSU at home.
FROM THE OTHER SIDE: LSU’s 5 biggest wins vs. Auburn
Since it’s the Thursday before the latest edition of this heated SEC West rivalry — and people like to post about the past on this particular day of the week — let’s take a look at the top 5 Auburn victories over LSU since 2000. These games have been ranked by the closeness of the final score, the impact on an entire season and the number of plays that still get played inside Jordan-Hare Stadium to this day.
No. 5: 2014 — Auburn 41, LSU 7
Although Auburn’s national championship hopes would be dented a week later in a road loss to Mississippi State, the 2014 Tigers’ beatdown of LSU in Jordan-Hare Stadium still stands out as a huge win in the Gus Malzahn era. No. 15 LSU gave then-freshman quarterback Brandon Harris his first career start away from home, and he struggled mightily against the Auburn defense, completing just 3 of 14 passes before getting benched.
Offensively, Nick Marshall scored four touchdowns in the first half against LSU, including a 56-yard bomb to Sammie Coates in the opening quarter. Auburn put up 566 yards of total offense against the Bayou Bengals and snapped a 3-game losing streak in the rivalry. This weekend, Auburn will be looking to replicate some of that classic Malzahn offensive magic inside Jordan-Hare Stadium in LSU’s first visit since this rout.
No. 4: 2002 — Auburn 31, LSU 7
But Auburn’s 2014 lopsided victory over LSU isn’t the most surprising result in this series since 2000. That honor belongs to the 2002 game, when an unranked Auburn team coming off of back-to-back SEC losses smacked a No. 10 LSU team by a score of 31-7 inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. LSU quarterback Marcus Randall threw three interceptions in his first five passing attempts and added another pick later in the game.
As LSU struggled to get anything going on offense on a rainy October afternoon, Auburn moved the ball consistently with quarterback Jason Campbell making his first start of the season. Even with a new starting quarterback and the absence of Carnell “Cadillac” Williams due to injury, Auburn scored a touchdown in each quarter. Auburn would go onto win five of its final six games that year, including an Iron Bowl upset over No. 9 Alabama and a Capital One Bowl victory over No. 10 Penn State.
No. 3: 2006 — Auburn 7, LSU 3
A defensive masterclass, the 2006 Auburn vs. LSU game is the definition of physical, hard-hitting football. Both teams were inside the top 6 nationally and boasted some of the most talented defenses in the country. Auburn pulled ahead with the game’s only touchdown in the third quarter when Brandon Cox hammered his way into the end zone on a quarterback sneak.
What happened in the fourth quarter was both memorable and controversial. With 2:40 remaining and LSU needing a fourth-down conversion, Auburn was flagged for pass interference when Zach Gilbert took down Early Doucet on a pass over the middle of the field. However, the officials waved off the flag after determining that an Eric Brock deflection made the pass uncatchable for Doucet. Brock later delivered a game-winning hit just short of the goal line as time expired, giving Auburn a 7-3 victory.
No. 2: 2010 — Auburn 24, LSU 17
The 2010 Tiger Bowl was a Top 10 matchup that delivered on all the hype. Then-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn engineered a Cam Newton-led attack that rushed for a stunning 440 yards against the vaunted LSU defense. With the game tied at 10 in the third quarter, Newton had one of the most memorable Heisman-worthy highlights of the past decade — a 49-yard touchdown run in which he weaved his way through several would-be tacklers before accelerating past future All-Pro defensive back Patrick Peterson.
The ultimate highlight in this game, though, would belong to speedy Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb. With LSU’s defense so focused on stopping Newton on the ground, McCalebb took a sweep to the left side and turned on the jets for a 70-yard touchdown with a little more than five minutes remaining in regulation. Auburn would hold onto the 24-17 win on its way to the national championship.
No. 1: 2004 — Auburn 10, LSU 9
The 2004 Auburn vs. LSU game is not only one of the best games in this rivalry’s history — it’s one of the best games in Auburn football history. The 2004 Tigers trailed defending national champion LSU by a score of 9-3 at halftime but pitched a memorable shutout in the second half. Auburn’s offense finally delivered late in the fourth quarter with Jason Campbell tossing a clutch fourth-down conversion and a game-tying touchdown pass to Courtney Taylor.
John Vaughn missed a potentially go-ahead extra point, but Auburn was allowed a re-kick after referees penalized Ronnie Prude for a newly instituted rule against jumping on top of the long snapper. Vaughn drilled the next PAT, and Junior Rosegreen sealed the Auburn victory with an interception on the ensuing drive. Auburn climbed into the Top 10 after the win and stayed there for the rest of its 13-0 SEC Championship season.
For more on this 2004 classic, be sure to check out SEC Country on Friday for a special look back from one of Auburn’s star players in that victory.