The Auburn Tigers tried to stop Leonard Fournette every which way.
They tried to topple his quick feet. They tried to wrap up his thick legs. They tried to plow into his chiseled chest, and they even tried to leap onto his head.
Fournette just brought the heat on a blistering Saturday afternoon at Tiger Stadium.
The sophomore sensation rushed for a career-high 228 yards on 19 carries and had a pair of jaw-dropping, tackle-breaking, Heisman Trophy-worthy touchdown jaunts, helping the No. 13 Tigers clobber No. 18 Auburn 45-21.
Fournette raced for 71 yards on the game’s first play — the opening act to his three-touchdown blockbuster. He hit the 100-yard mark midway through the second quarter and broke the 200-yard barrier with his second scintillating scoring dash early in the third.
Fournette had the seventh-most rushing yards in a game in LSU history, wowing more than an estimated 90,000 gold-clad fans on a sizzling, 90-degree afternoon.
He wowed his teammates, too.
“I saw one when he threw off the dude,” LSU safety Jamal Adams said. “I just shook my head. Man, he’s amazing.”
“It was fun,” Fournette said. “I did it in high school. Now it’s in college.”
LSU (2-0, 2-0 Southeastern) jumped to a 24-0 halftime lead as its defense matched Fournette’s mad dashes. Coordinator Kevin Steele’s unit had five sacks and forced two turnovers. The group held Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s usual up-tempo, fiery offense to just 70 yards at halftime and 260 overall, squashing a team that routed Les Miles’ squad a year ago.
“We got our rear kicked,” Malzahn said.
This was revenge for that 41-7 shellacking last season on the Plains, the largest loss in Miles’ tenure. This was about proving a point for that comment from Auburn defensive back Rudy Ford.
“It shouldn’t be too difficult,” Ford said this week about stopping Fournette.
“He knew what was said,” Miles said after the game.
During practice this week, Fournette said he told his offensive line, “They don’t come into our house and talk crazy.”
Fournette topped the crazy talk with crazy plays, and Brandon Harris tossed for 74 yards on 12-of-17 passing and ran for another 66.
Fournette, the 230-pound former St. Augustine standout, was the star of this blowout show. He averaged 12 yards a carry and scored touchdowns of 1, 29 and 40 yards to continue his recent hot streak.
Fournette’s 387 yards in the past two games are the most by an LSU player in the first two games of a season. He had a fourth straight 100-yard game dating to last season — a run that only five other Tigers can match in school history.
Fournette has rolled up 676 yards and nine touchdowns — an 8.7-yard average — over those past four games.
“Ah,” Malzahn said, “he’s pretty good.”
He helped LSU bludgeon Auburn and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the ex-LSU assistant, for 411 rushing yards on 48 carries — a 8.6-yard average and the team’s most ground yards in one game since 1996.
LSU won an eighth straight home game against Auburn, and the Tigers tied their highest point total in the series.
It was an old-fashioned whipping — one that might propel Miles’ team into the top 10 as it prepares to travel to Syracuse (3-0).
It was a shocking result in many ways. Auburn (2-1) was picked to win the SEC and began the year ranked No. 6.
It stunned even some players.
“It was kind of … I looked up at it and I think it was 24-0 going into halftime,” LSU defensive tackle Christian LaCouture said. “Just kind of sitting there like, ‘Wow, we’re really playing some great football.’ ”
The realization — through two games — of LSU’s potential is setting in. Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux told Miles at halftime, “Man, Coach, we’re going to be a good team.”
Miles said his team has the potential of having “the full package.”
“I think our football team has the potential to be dominant on offense, defense and special teams,” he said.
There’s no denying his running back’s dominance.
It was quite a day for Fournette. He soaked it all in, too.
With about 5 minutes left and during a TV timeout, Fournette walked onto the field — the only player on the playing surface. A one-third-filled Tiger Stadium roared as Fournette raised both hands — a gladiator strutting in front of his audience.
“I didn’t do nothing,” Fournette said to start a postgame interview session that lasted a half-hour. “Big shouts out to the O-line.”
Fournette put on this show, doing it all in 40 minutes, 46 seconds of game time. His two long touchdown runs were made for TV moments.
His 29-yarder with 10:56 left in the third quarter put LSU up 31-7. He made a nasty juke move against the first defender diving at his feet. His second move came against defensive back Tray Matthews: Matthews attempted to leap onto Fournette’s back and head, but the running back tossed him off and kept trucking.
“I can’t explain that one,” Fournette said. “It was a reaction, man. Just kept my feet pumping. Tried to get into the end zone.”
Linebacker Deion Jones watched from the sideline and said he thought, “How? HOW?!”
The third defender was Carlton Davis. Fournette easily moved out of his arm tackle and marched into the end zone.
“He did some things today,” Miles said. “He took one of their tacklers and threw him into another tackler.”
His first wild run was a 40-yard scoring jaunt that made it 24-0 LSU late in the second quarter. Fullback JD Moore had a crushing block, and Fournette used his speed to race by three defenders.
At the 15-yard line, he lowered his right shoulder, bashing into AU defensive back Blake Countess. Countess was on his back moments later as Fournette stepped over the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder.
“Like I said I have a team full of savages words are just words...... #DontplaywithUs,” Fournette tweeted after the game.
He was the last LSU player to leave the field Saturday following a TV spot with CBS. As the sun set on Tiger Stadium, he raced into the tunnel to roars from those who lingered in the student section.
They tried all day to stop him. No one stood in his way as he jogged to the locker room.
“He’s a great back,” Jones said. “He turned it up today.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.