BATON ROUGE, La. -- Riding a wave of momentum after three straight solid performances, Auburn’s defense briefly held LSU’s explosive offense in check.
And then LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle left Auburn behind.
Sparked by a pair of second-quarter touchdown catches from Randle, top-ranked LSU blew past Auburn for a 45-10 victory in front of 93,098 fans, the second-largest crowd in the history of Tiger Stadium.
“We knew we couldn’t give up big plays coming into the game, and we did,” Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “That’s how they beat people.”
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LSU (8-0, 4-0 SEC) opened the game with an 8-play, 76-yard drive that Kenny Hilliard capped with a 9-yard touchdown run, but Auburn’s defense forced punts on LSU’s next three possessions.
Then Randle jump-started LSU’s attack. Faced with press coverage by Robenson Therezie at the line, Randle beat Therezie and blew past safety Demetruce McNeal for a 42-yard touchdown catch.
Therezie, a true freshman, was supposed to be in cover-3 (three defensive backs, usually both corners and a safety, are each responsible for a deep third of the field) on the play.
“It’s not that the receiver’s out-manning us, I wouldn’t even say it was a busted coverage,” McNeal said. “The thing was, we were in cover-3, and the cornerback was pressing. No safety’s over the top.”
Randle’s second touchdown catch broke the game wide open. Driving for one more score with less than a minute left in the half, Randle beat corner Chris Davis at the line and outraced safety Neiko Thorpe for a 46-yard touchdown catch that gave LSU a 21-3 halftime lead.
“You can’t give up two deep balls to a team like this,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. “We had them in third-and-14 with five minutes left to go in the half, the score was 7-3, and the guy just ran by us.”
Auburn (5-3, 3-2) compounded its mistakes by giving LSU extra chances to score. A substitution penalty and a face mask twice kept the opening drive alive, and another big mistake set up Randle’s first touchdown catch.
Facing a second-and-10, LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson fumbled the snap and was dropped by Kenneth Carter and Nosa Egaue for a 5-yard loss to set up third-and-long.
But Carter grabbed Jefferson’s face mask and gave LSU another set of downs.
“We gave them a lot of extra plays,” Auburn middle linebacker Eltoro Freeman said. “We’re supposed to be going three-and-out, we give them a penalty, keep them on the field and give them another chance to make the play.”
Auburn kept making mistakes. After Jarrett Lee hit Russell Shepard on a 10-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter, a fumble on the ensuing kickoff return by Tre Mason and a pick-six by LSU’s Ronald Brooks gave LSU 35 points in 12:33.
From there, the rout was on.
LSU racked up 393 yards of total offense, and the 45 points were the most Auburn has allowed in 45 games between the two teams.
“It all unraveled fast,” defensive end Corey Lemonier said.
“And we just weren’t ready for that.”