Countdown to Kickoff: LSU brings the heat in 2015 matchup with Auburn
It was as if every ounce of concrete had absorbed the Sun’s rays only to angrily reverberate that energy back onto the fans who dared to fill Tiger Stadium that afternoon.
102,000 fans gathered at their seats that September to watch the 2015 edition of the Tiger Bowl between No. 18 Auburn and No. 13 LSU. While the game was officially played on the St. Augustine grass of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, my memory assures me that it was unofficially played on the surface on the bright side of Mercury.
The heat that Saturday was so palpable, that the university decided to give fans Dasani water bottles for free.
When LSU gives away anything without charge, it’s usually a dead giveaway for a once in a lifetime event, and the 2015 LSU-Auburn game certainly met that threshold.
On a personal note, this game carried sentimental value for myself and the rest of my freshman class as it was our first game in Tiger Stadium as students.
Technically speaking, our first game was originally against the McNesse State Cowboys two weeks prior, but a deluge of wind, rain, and lightning cut that evening short and canceled the contest.
Now, it was as if mother nature was overcompensating for our prayers to keep the rain away and instead showered us with an unquenchable heat.
Nevertheless, it was time to play football, and the Tigers of LSU wasted no time to start the game off hot.
On the first play from scrimmage, LSU running back Leonard Fournette took a run up the middle for 71-yards before finally being tackled at the Auburn 4-yard line. The Stadium erupted with its approval.
After two more attempts at feeding Fournette the ball straight away, LSU coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron decided to show the fans shades of the 2011 offense and called a quarterback option to the far sideline.
Quarterback Brandon Harris elected to keep it, and LSU was on the board first 7-0.
Auburn’s first drive was not as lucrative, and the Plainsmen were forced to punt the ball away after a four-minute possession.
The Tigers actually took advantage of this defensive stop and drove down into the red zone once again. This time, LSU capped its possession off with a passing touchdown after Harris rolled out to find tight end Colin Jeter open in the back corner of the endzone.
The situation quickly escalated from bad to worse for the War Eagles on their next possession after Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson connected with LSU safety Jamal Adams for an interception.
LSU used its gifted drive to add a field goal to the lead, and the Tigers led 17-0 halfway through the second quarter.
Many fans sat stunned in disbelief. Afterall, we knew the 2015 LSU roster had potential, but 17-point leads against top-25 opponents had been rare occurrences the last few seasons.
However, as if hearing the skepticism that filled the humid air of the stadium, the Tigers responded by continuing their onslaught.
After LSU’s Harris rushed for 33 yards on a quarterback scramble, Fournette took his handoff the distance with a 40-yard run where he nearly went untouched.
I say nearly untouched because the one Auburn player that made contact did so only because he was trampled underfoot by Fournette on his way to the end zone.
As the Tiger sophomore running back beat his chest to the LSU student section, a refreshing cascade of drinks rained down from above as patrons ditched what was in their hands for the comforting embrace of the sky against their open palms.
Auburn desperately tried to generate any momentum on its next offensive drive, but LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith snuffed out the opposition with an open field tackle.
In fact, it wasn’t until the first drive of the second quarter when the Plainsmen finally found the scoreboard.
By then, it was already too late.
The LSU coaching staff opted to continue to feed Fournette the ball, and the team was rewarded for that decision. Fournette padded the Tiger lead on the next drive, this time breaking three tackles, including one Auburn player who went airborne after attempting a high tackle.
Fortunately for the War Eagles, the Tigers would take their foot off of the gas pedal and only add two more touchdowns thanks to runs from Fournette and Harris.
When the dust settled, LSU would claim a 45-21 victory against Auburn which would vault the Tigers into the top-10 the following week. Fournette logged a pedestrian 228 yards and three touchdowns.
That afternoon, Tiger fans exited the stadium drenched in sweat but filled with the hopes of a potential playoff berth from their undefeated football team.
The Sun wouldn’t set on those championship dreams for another six weeks, and it was truly a great time to be a Tiger fan.