Could Auburn‘s simple yet boastful celebration in 1999 have sparked a series of disasters? A trip back in time to review Auburn’s last nine games at LSU’s Tiger Stadium might offer the answer. Here is a look at LSU’s Cigar Curse On Auburn: The First Ten Years.
September 18, 1999: Auburn 41, LSU 7
This match-up was decided in the first fifteen minutes as the visiting Tigers were never threatened. Auburn jumped out to a 17-0 lead before the end of the first quarter. LSU’s only score occurred in the final minute of the third quarter. Auburn had already scored 34 points before that sole touchdown for the home team.
This embarrassing rout in Tiger Stadium accelerated the downfall of Gerry DiNardo’s tenure as head coach. Auburn’s kicker, Damon Duval, scoring a touchdown on a fake field goal attempt summed up how much LSU had been dominated. DiNardo was fired with one game remaining in that season.
At the end of the game, Auburn’s head coach at that time, Tommy Tuberville, handed out cigars to his players. His players smoked them on the field of Tiger Stadium. Photographs of the players circulated widely.
Anyone holding superstitious apprehensions about such hubris following a victory might conclude that karma would haunt Auburn for that display. If so, someone or something has leveled a painful hex on its football program. The following is a review of Auburn’s twenty years of failure at Tiger Stadium.
December 1, 2001: LSU 27, Auburn 14
This game was originally scheduled for September 15. However, due to the terrorists’ attacks earlier that month, it was postponed until after the last scheduled regular season finale. With both teams entering the match-up with identical conference records, it served as the de facto SEC Western Division championship game.
The hostility from the previous meeting in Baton Rouge carried over into this one. After finishing pre-game warm-ups, Auburn’s players gathered together and stomped on LSU’s “Eye of the Tiger” logo at midfield. The game’s officials witnessed the act and flagged Auburn for unsportsmanlike conduct.
With the ball placed at midfield, LSU successfully performed an on-side kick to start the game. LSU promptly marched into the end zone. Two touchdowns in the second quarter let the purple and gold to pull away. Auburn’s attempts at trickery, including their own on-side kickoff and a pass by their punter, failed to keep the game within reach.
The animosity increased during halftime. Auburn’s kicker, Damon Duval, began practicing while the Golden Band from Tigerland was still performing its halftime show on the field. LSU’s band members marched through the end of the field where Duval and a few of teammates were practicing. Both sides exchanged shoves and expletives. That was the closest that Duval came to scoring again in Death Valley.
LSU’s team and fans reveled in their team’s domination. In the fourth quarter, numerous cigars and much smoke from them could be spotted despite the ban on smoking in the stands of Tiger Stadium. They served two purposes: celebrating the first berth in the SEC Championship Game and taunting Auburn’s team for their post-game antics two years prior.
October 25, 2003: LSU 31, Auburn 7
Auburn entered this season ranked sixth nationally along with a first-place vote in both the coaches ‘ and Associated Press’ pre-season polls. Pundits had predicted these Tigers as serious contenders for the national championship. After stumbling out of the gates and losing their first two contests by margins of 23-0 and 17-3, Auburn managed to win five straight, including four SEC games. The visiting Tigers, still ranked in the Top 25, arrived in Baton Rouge with hopes of salvaging their season by winning the SEC West.
LSU rapidly vaporized the guests’ lingering ambitions for that year. The home team scored a touchdown on a 64 yard pass completion within the first two minutes of the game. They added two more trips to the end zone before the first quarter expired. LSU piled up more passing yards (224) than Auburn’s total offensive output (193).
The orange and blue was never realistically in the game. They could only threaten once to score in the first half but the 35 yard field goal try failed. Another drive ended after LSU snuffed out a running play on a fourth down conversion attempt. Auburn avoided a shutout when its starting offensive squad reached the end zone against LSU’s defensive reserves with less than seven minutes left in the game.
October 22, 2005: LSU 20, Auburn 17
Both offenses struggled in the first half. Auburn connected on one of two field goal attempts. LSU’s only points came courtesy of a 66 yard punt return by Skyler Green. At least for the visiting Tigers, they remained in the game at halftime, unlike their two previous trips to Baton Rouge.
In the second half, Auburn’s kicker developed a devastating case of the yips. He missed all four field goal attempts. His third try from 49 yards could have won they game with six seconds left in regulation. His final failed attempt which was from 34 yards away clanged off the left upright. That miss allowed LSU to escape with a victory in overtime. It also ended Auburn’s thirteen-game winning streak in SEC contests.
October 20, 2007: LSU 30, Auburn 24
The visitors from the Plains appeared to be able to halt their string of futility in Death Valley. After both teams scored a touchdown on a long pass in the first quarter, Auburn added a second touchdown, then a field goal less than two minutes before halftime. LSU appeared to be struggling to put their first loss of the season, a heartbreaker in three overtime periods at Kentucky, out of their minds.
The purple and gold found what they needed to regain focus and save their season at halftime. Two field goals for LSU in the third quarter chipped away at Auburn’s lead. Early in the fourth quarter, Matt Flynn’s pass to Jacob Hester followed by Colt David’s third three-pointer of the evening seemed to secured the game for the home team. However, the blue and orange offense snapped out of its second half doldrums to score the go-ahead trip to the end zone with 3:21 remaining in the game. In response, the Bayou Bengals methodically marched downfield, climaxed by Demetrius Byrd’s hauling in the game-winning touchdown win one second to spare in the contest.
At this point, anyone connected to Auburn’s football program must have sworn that his/her team had been cursed. After suffering two blowouts in Baton Rouge in 2001 and 2003, their team had victories in their clutches only to lose in overtime then lose in the waning seconds of regulation time. Defeating LSU in Baton Rouge was a reasonable expectation considering that Auburn had won the four previous matchups in Jordan-Hare Stadium from 2000 through 2006, two of those by 17 or more points. Actually, Auburn’s frustration would reach more painful levels.
Part two of LSU’s Cigar Curse On Auburn, to come later this week.
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