Why 2013 LSU was one of the best losses in Auburn football history
No one wants to lose. But the 2013 Tigers learned so much from their Week 4 trip to LSU that they might not have won a title without it.
Ten years ago, in Week 4 of the college football season, Auburn was feeling — to use a go-to phrase from its head coach at the time — pretty good.
After the worst season in modern program history, the 2013 Tigers opened the season with a wild tone-setter of a win against Washington State. Then they took care of business against Arkansas State before rallying late to beat Mississippi State on a memorable two-minute drill.
Auburn was 3-0 heading into its first road game of the season. Then, very quickly, a top-10 LSU team and Tiger Stadium literally rained on the parade.
A promising opening drive for Auburn ended with Nick Marshall losing the ball on a fourth-and-1 handoff. A few plays later, Jeremy Hill ripped off a punishing 49-yard touchdown run for LSU.
Auburn went three-and-out on the next drive, with Steven Clark fumbling the punt on a wet night in Baton Rouge. LSU used the excellent field position to immediately score another touchdown.
It was LSU 14, Auburn 0… just a little more than five minutes into the game.
“We didn't respond very well to the elements, to the crowd,” Gus Malzahn said afterwards. “We kind of got ourselves in a hole.”
Auburn would only get one first down on its next three drives, as LSU got another long run from Hill and some timely passes to Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry — you’ve probably heard of them — to go up 21-0 early in the second quarter. The score would remain there at the end of the first half.
Auburn would ultimately lose the game by two touchdowns, and it never got within 14 points of LSU the rest of the way.
On the outside looking in, Auburn’s 35-21 loss to LSU probably looked like a solid home victory for the No. 6 team in the country against a Year 1 squad that wasn’t quite ready for primetime.
But the loss — and, specifically, the second half of it — would turn out to be a pivotal moment for a 2013 Auburn team that wouldn’t lose until it got all the way to the national championship game.
Some people might not say there’s such a thing as a “best loss” or even a “good loss.” This game, though, might be the exception to that rule.
“That was one of the defining moments of our year,” Malzahn said a year later. “The first half, they got after us really good. There was not a whole lot that was good on offense, defense or special teams. Our guys decided at halftime they weren’t going to shut her down. They were going to keep fighting.
“We fought back. It really gave us some momentum for the rest of the season.”
As wide receiver Quan Bray put it before Auburn’s 2014 rematch with LSU — one in which the Tigers thumped the Bayou Bengals, 41-7 — the rainy loss in Baton Rouge “really did change the whole program.”
Here are three big reasons why the single regular-season loss for 2013 Auburn should go down in history… right alongside the thrilling wins.
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