Baton Rouge, Ala.--The first half was ugly and the second half didn’t get any better looking defensively as Auburn Tigers was dominated from the opening play by LSU, which walloped the visitors 45-21 on Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
With Leonard Fournette rushing for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries to lead the way, LSU ran for 411 yards on Auburn’s defense, which was consistently whipped at the line of scrimmage.
Fournette set an LSU record with his average of 12 yards per carry for a back who had 15 or more attempts.
“Obviously, we got off to a bad start,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “Our offense didn’t give us a chance and really put us behind. It didn’t give any life to the defense.
“Our guys fought back in the second half, but bottom-line we got our rears kicked. That is what happened today. Congratulations to them, they are a good team, they are good when they play at home.
“We are going to get better and we are going roll our sleeves up and get ready for next week,” Malzahn said.
Auburn was out-gained 485 yards to 260 and the much-anticipated passing attack featuring Jeremy Johnson and Duke Williams didn’t do any real damage to the home team.
Johnson completed 11-19 passes for just 100 yards. He threw two touchdowns and one interception. He was fortunate he didn’t throw another pick. The junior QB also dropped the football trying to throw a pass and fumbled another time when he was sacked.
Malzahn said that after the game players at every position, including quarterback, will be evaluated this week as the Tigers prepare for a home game vs. Mississippi State.
Despite his struggles, Johnson said he has not lost his confidence. “It was a learning experience,”?he said. “There was a lot of adversity out there. All we can do is come together as a team. We have been in this position before. We know how to come together and get tighter and just get ready for next week.”
With the way the defense struggled against an offense that averaged nearly 10 yards per rush, even a great offensive performance probably wouldn’t have been enough to avoid a loss for Auburn in its SEC opener. Malzahn’s team fell to 2-1 overall while LSU improved to 2-0, both league victories.
The visitors put together one of the worst first half performances ever seen by Auburn fans, who watched their team personally be out-gained by sophomore running back Fournette, who rushed for 169 yards on 15 carries before intermission.
In contrast Auburn managed just 70 yards in the first two quarters while LSU racked up 307 with 267 yards coming on the ground.
Leonard Fournette makes yardage vs. the Auburn defense.
LSU didn’t wait long to take command. On the first play from scrimmage Fournette found a hole in the middle of the Auburn defense and ran 71 yards to set up and third and goal two-yard keeper at left end for Brandon Harris, who scored the touchdown.
LSU led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter with the help of a 78-yard touchdown drive that covered 13 plays and chewed up seven minutes and 33 seconds off the clock.
Auburn, which managed just six first half first downs, never threatened to score in the first two quarters.
LSU stretched its advantage to 17-0 with 6:54 left before halftime on a 32-yard field goal by Trent Domingue.
Fournette finished the first half scoring with a highlight-reel 40-yard power run in which he flattened cornerback Blake Countess, the last player with a chance to tackle the big tailback.
Auburn finally got on the scoreboard with 13:19 in the third quarter on a 65-yard run up the middle on a draw play by Jeremy Johnson. However, Fournette scored on the next possession to reaffirm LSU’s command of the game.
Fournette’s one-yard run after LSU only had to move five yards after a Jeremy Johnson sack/fumble put the game way out of reach for the visitors.
Auburn scored late in the third quarter on a nine-yard pass from Johnson to Melvin Ray and on a 10-yard pass from Johnson to Duke Williams, who caught just two balls for 19 yards.
"Defensively, the front stifled Auburn from the start," LSU coach Les Miles said. "They played very fast defensively."
Offensively, Miles liked everything but his team's passing game. We were dominant running at rushing the ball," he said, noting he also liked the fact his team did not have a turnover. "We managed the game well. We handled the ball."