Move over, Earthquake Game. Bury all those Auburn pick sixes in 1994 next to the ashes of The Barn that burned down two years later.
And the "Bring Back the Magic" Game LSU won here in 1995?
How about bring back the dead?
This always amazing, frequently confounding rivalry now has a new and unbelievable chapter. LSU’s greatest comeback in a Southeastern Conference home game ever and an Auburn collapse for the ages, all wrapped up in a 27-23 final score at sun-baked Tiger Stadium.
You know, Death Valley. The place where Auburn’s dreams of victory go to die?
Those Tigers broke out a steamroller on LSU to start, romping to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Oh, Auburn partied like it was 1999, the last time it won in Tiger Stadium. It led 17-0 in the first quarter that year and ended up routing LSU 41-7.
It looked like that kind of result was in the offing this time, too. It was 20-0 early in the second quarter, as LSU’s offense couldn’t get anything going and Auburn piled up points on its first four possessions. According to ESPN, at that moment Auburn had a 95.8 percent chance of winning.
You see comebacks from such deficits in the NFL. But in college football, it’s rare that Indiana Jones doesn't get run down by the giant ball. And that was Auburn, rumbling downhill and threatening to turn LSU's young and apparently outmatched team into roadkill.
Can't see the video below? Click here.
“They’ve annihilated some people in the first half,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “But we were resilient.”
Even now it’s hard to imagine how. LSU freshman starters dotted the depth chart, like free safety Grant Delpit.
It was a play LSU worked on all week in practice, but when practice turned to live action, Delpit still bit on the fake by Auburn wide receiver Will Hastings, who scored on a 49-yard pass from Jarrett Stidham to make it 10-0.
It seemed wise to start writing LSU’s epitaph, but “old” players like sophomore linebacker Devin White brought out the bicycle pump to inflate flattened confidences along the LSU bench.
It didn’t take Gus Malzahn long to get to the heart of his team’s epic collapse Saturday afternoon.
“You’ve got to go to them and tell them it’s going to be all right,” said White, credited for 15 tackles, his fifth straight game of 10 or more. “It’ll be better on the next drive.
“At the end of the game, he (Delpit) delivered.”
LSU literally went to the drawing board at halftime, intent on taking away Auburn’s Wildcat runs from talented tailback Kerryon Johnson. That wasn’t the only part of Auburn’s offense LSU put in a vice grip. Stidham completed just 2 of 13 passes in the second half for 6 yards, as Auburn’s once-potent attack evaporated in the stifling October heat.
Even more than in last week’s gutty 17-16 win at Florida, it took every ounce of what LSU had to Rocky Balboa its way off the canvas and come back to win.
Les Miles was back at Tiger Stadium — and the fans loved it.
It was the offense, with patented churning, spinning runs and catches from Derrius Guice (see him run over two Auburn defenders for a key first down). It was Danny Etling’s toughness, which seemed to permeate the rest of this team like a transfusion. It was the defense that suffocated Auburn’s offense with a scoreless second half. And it was sparkling special teams, with DJ Chark returning a punt 75 yards for a score to make it 23-21 in the fourth quarter and Connor Culp hitting two ice-water field goals to put LSU ahead and extend the precarious lead in the final 4:04.
“The punt return,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn lamented, “really broke our back.”
Give a little love, karma’s kiss perhaps, to former LSU coach Les Miles and his 2007 BCS national champions, who were honored on the field at halftime. Much has been said about Miles since he was fired 13 months ago, but you must say he handled his departure with class. LSU fans responded in kind, giving him a huge ovation, at that point the biggest cheer all day for the homestanding Tigers.
There Miles stood in the middle of the field, in a white hat of course, holding that BCS crystal football as the bright sun gleamed off Waterford’s handiwork.
It had to have a little something to do with this, right? I mean, how Les Miles was this LSU comeback anyway?
The answer is very. And as day turned to night in the Valley, the numbers still shined from the scoreboards as testament to whoever might still be in disbelief.
LSU 27, Auburn 23.
The Comeback Game.