Tommy Tuberville resigned from Auburn after the 2008 season. Auburn hired Gene Chizik to replace Tuberville. Everyone connected to Auburn presumably assumed that changes were in order. Those should have included the end of whatever jinx might have fallen on the football program related to its performances in game at LSU’s Tiger Stadium. A new head coach does not necessarily lead to different outcomes. Earlier this week, we looked at the first 10 years of the streak since the Cigar Curse. Here is a look at the second decade.
LSU’s Cigar Curse On Auburn: The Second Decade
October 24, 2009: LSU 31, Auburn 10
The Tigers from the Plains started the season 5-0. Then they dropped their next two games. They stumbled into Tiger Stadium with hopes that their last two narrow losses in Baton Rouge would equate to the ability to upset the top ten ranked home team. LSU quickly and decisively snuffed out those aspirations.
This rout resembled those from earlier in the 2000’s. The Purple and Gold scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, more than enough points to secure victory. The Orange and Blue did not score until a field goal midway through the third quarter. LSU had already jumped out to a 24 point lead. Auburn’s only other score, a touchdown reception, occurred with three seconds left in this beating.
October 22, 2011: LSU 45, Auburn 10
Auburn entered this clash as the defending national champions. LSU topped the Associated Press’ poll and was ranked second in the coaches’ poll. In the opening quarter, this appeared to set up as a clash of reserved heavyweights gauging each other for an opening to strike. LSU ended the first quarter with a narrow lead of 7-3.
The Bayou Bengals opened their barrage late in second quarter and did not hold back after halftime. Reuben Randle caught two touchdown passes of more than 40 yards in the final five minutes of the half. LSU took a lead of 21-3 into the locker room.
In the third quarter, the home team continued the scoring avalanche. On the first possession of the second half, Russell Shepherd caught a pass from Jarrett Lee then extended ball over the goal line for a score. On the ensuing kickoff, Eric Reid plowed into returner Tre Mason who fumbled away the ball. Three plays later, Kenny Hilliard rumbled into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the day. On the second play of next Auburn’s possession, Ron Brooks intercepted Clint Moseley’s pass and returned it 28 yards for pick-six. LSU had scored three touchdowns in less than three minutes to bury Auburn who only added a single touchdown with less than three minutes in left in the rout.
September 21, 2013: LSU 35, Auburn 21
LSU entered the game ranked in the top ten of both major polls. Despite having a record of 3-0, Auburn, coached by Gus Malzahn, was unranked. Unknown at the time, this clash ended up as the crossroads for both teams.
Auburn took the opening possession and drove the ball just past midfield only to turn over the ball after failing to convert on fourth down and one yard to gain. LSU scored on its first time with ball, capped by Jeremy Hill’s run of 49 yards to the end zone. On Auburn’s second possession, the punter bobbled the snap from center and was tackled at his team’s none-yard line. Hill scored again, one play later. The game was barely five minutes old at this point.
LSU coasted for the rest of this contest. The Purple and Gold added a third rushing touchdown early in the second quarter while shutting out the Orange and Blue. Although Auburn took advantage of an interception near midfield to drive for a touchdown on its first possession of the second half, LSU responded immediately with Hill’s third run to pay dirt. The visitors added a second touchdown late in third quarter. Once again, LSU answered on its next possession with a touchdown, this time a 32 yard reception by Jarvis Landry.
Auburn displayed a tremendous amount of determination in the second half but just could not make enough plays. Cameron Artis-Payne’s 12 yard touchdown scamper midway through the fourth quarter cut the deficit to 14 once again. Despite recovering an onside kickoff, Auburn’s ensuing drive ended when Jalen Mills picked off Nick Marshall’s pass with less than four minutes left in the contest. The visiting Tigers later moved the ball inside LSU’s ten-yard line in the waning two minutes of the contest. The home team’s defense snuffed out any lingering hope of a comeback by keeping Auburn out of the end zone.
September 19, 2015: LSU 45, Auburn 21
This match-up appeared as a probable slugfest with equal odds of either team emerging with a victory. Both were ranked in the teens of the polls coming into Tiger Stadium. Like so many of the games in this streak, Auburn’s hopes of winning had been crushed by the time they trudged to the locker rooms at halftime.
As a sign of calamities about to bedevil Auburn, Leonard Fournette race 71 yards on the first play from scrimmage. LSU punched the ball in the end zone less than two minutes into the game. The home team consumed more than half of the first quarter en route to a touchdown on its second possession. In the second quarter, LSU added a field goal then Fournette steamrolled forty yards through Auburn’s secondary all the way to the end zone. The Purple and Gold took a 24-0 lead into halftime, reminiscent of their three previous dominations of Auburn.
Auburn accomplished on the opening possession of the second half what LSU did in the first (score a touchdown only 1:41 into the half), thanks to a 65 yard scamper by Jeremy Johnson. However, LSU answered with Fournette’s 29 yard gallop to paydirt. Late in the third quarter and then again in the fourth, LSU added a touchdown that Auburn answered with one of its own both times. However, scoring the same 21 point total as LSU did in the second half would not suffice for the visiting Tigers.
October 14, 2017: LSU 27, Auburn 23
LSU entered this contest as the metaphorical wounded tiger. In these Tigers’ third game of the season, they suffered a 37-7 beating at Mississippi State, the most lopsided loss to the Bulldogs in their 112 meetings. Two weeks later, they dropped a home game against Troy, their only loss to a member of the Sun Belt Conference in 17 contests.
In contrast, Auburn arrived in Baton Rouge as the tenth ranked squad in the USA. These Tigers had only lost once to that point, by eight to top five rated Clemson on the road. Those clad in blue and orange could smell blood. Confidence abounded among them that the vexing losing streak would not just end but it be obliterated.
Auburn jumped out to a 17-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. The visiting Tigers had expanded that to 20 points with 10 minutes left in the first half. After scoring on each of their first four possessions, it appeared as though they, quoting the dearly departed Prince, “would party like it was 1999”.
Meanwhile, LSU looked a team whose season was further imploding. On their first three possessions, the homestanding Tigers’ results consisted of the following results in order this order: fumble, punt and punt. They never had the ball for more than six plays.
Just as it appeared that Auburn was blowing 18 years of frustration to smithereens, one play sparked a phenomenal comeback. On the second play of their four time with the ball, Russell Gage took a hand-off as he went motion to the left then sprinted for 70 yards to Auburn’s 7 yard line. On fourth and goal from the one-yard line, Ed Orgeron’s gamble to go for the touchdown paid off as Stephen Sullivan rolled around the right end and into the end zone.
From this point, Auburn appeared to have lost control of what appeared a certain victory. Although the visiting Tigers added a field goal with fewer than five minutes left in the second quarter, the home team answered with a touchdown with 32 seconds remaining before halftime. Despite the atrocious start for the Purple and Gold, they only trailed 23-14 as they headed to the locker rooms.
The second half started as a stalemate as both offenses struggled for the next thirty minutes. Both teams ended their first three possessions by punting. However, Auburn’s third kick turned in another explosive result for LSU. D.J. Chark returned the punt 75 yards, all the way to the end zone. LSU’s defense limited Auburn to two more punts. The second one gave the ball to LSU at Auburn’s 45 yard line. A short drive resulted in a field goal. The visitors turned over the ball on downs at their own 25 yard line. LSU exploited that generous position to add another field goal. The visitors failed once again to convert on fourth down deep in their own territory.
October 26, 2019
What awaits Auburn as these Tigers return to Baton Rouge to face the other Tigers in the SEC Western Division? Will LSU continue its trek toward dethroning Alabama and claiming the SEC championship crown? On the other hand, will Auburn finally find a way to leave Tiger Stadium with a victory, breaking the Cigar Curse for the first time in this century?
Cigar Curse Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images