On Saturday Auburn mistakes cost the Tigers against LSU, and for only the third time in the last 19 meetings the road team won the LSU-Auburn game. Just like the previous two times the road team won, the LSU Tigers were victorious. On Saturday, LSU defeated Auburn 22-21 with a game-winning field goal by Cole Tracy as time expired. Auburn has now lost two consecutive to LSU, and this loss also snapped the Tigers 13-game home winning streak at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Mistakes Costly For Auburn In Loss To LSU
Penalties Were Costly
Auburn was hit with four pass interference calls in the game, but the final one is what set up the ending for LSU. On 2nd and ten at the Auburn 39 with 1:14 left in the game, defensive back Jamel Dean was hit with an interference call that set up LSU at the 24. LSU would run with Nick Brossette three straight plays and then call on Tracy to finish the deal.
Jarrett Stidham Inconsistent
Penalties were not the only issue to hamper Auburn. The play of quarterback Jarrett Stidham was very inconsistent. Stidham missed his first four passes, including an interception on his first pass. The play called for a Stidham rollout that was picked off by Grant Delpit. LSU capitalized on the turnover by going three for three on third down. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran it in from the one on third and goal by way of the wildcat formation.
Stidham threw another interception in third quarter that got picked by Greedy Williams. Auburn was in good position at midfield at the time of the interception with 1:41 remaining in the third.
Joe Burrow Was Clutch
On the other side, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was money when he had to be. No one will get wowed by a stat line of 15/34, but 249 yards and one touchdown should get attention. Unlike Stidham, Burrow did not make any crucial mistakes and was clutch on third down and the final drive of the game. On the final drive, Burrow would complete passes on a third and fourth down conversion.
Issues in the Secondary
Coming into the season the Auburn Tigers had to replace Tray Matthews, Stephen Roberts, and Carlton Davis. So, a question around this team was how would the replacements fair? In the opener against Washington Jake Browning threw for 296 and Saturday Burrow threw for 249. If that trend continues, and the Tigers cannot get pressure on the quarterback with the front, the secondary could turn out to the weakness of an otherwise great defense.
Third Down Was Huge
Third down efficiency was a huge stat on the game as well. Auburn would struggle to go 4-12 and LSU was better, going 8-20. Many of those third down conversions for LSU were long distance. Four were converted with seven yards or more to go for a first down. Getting off the field at important moments were an issue for Auburn.
The Ground Attack
The running game is still a work in progress for Auburn. They did run for a total of 130 yards in the game, but at one point deep into the first half they only had 16 yards on the ground. Both JaTarvious Whitlow and Shaun Shivers would get hot towards the end of the half with a pair of touchdowns. Whitlow led the way with 104 yards on 22 carries.
The Auburn Tigers have been here before with Gus Malzahn. In 2013, Auburn dropped an early game 35-21 to LSU but did not lose another game until falling to the Florida State Seminoles in the BCS National Championship Game. Last season Auburn dropped early games to both Clemson and LSU, but were in position at the end of the season to make the playoffs.
This year however is going to an uphill climb with trips to Mississippi State, Georgia, and Alabama. Not to forget a home game with the Texas A&M Aggies late in the season as well. Next week the struggling Arkansas Razorbacks come to the plains after dropping games to Colorado State and North Texas. This game will be an opportunity for Auburn to figure some things out. Losing this game is not the end of the season, but now there is no room for error if Auburn wants a chance at a championship.