Auburn versus LSU — there is no match up in college football that produces the drama, craziness and overall tomfoolery as this game. Most years this contest is a barnburner (and in 1996 there was even a literal burning barn backdrop).
The game in 1994 featured more picks than a kindergartener’s nose. In 2006, Auburn’s John Vaughn missed enough field goals to make a ’Bama kicker chuckle. Gus Malzahn outlasted Les Miles in 2016 in what was effectively “The Buyout Bowl.”
The list of intriguing games in this rivalry is so long even Bo Nix couldn’t overthrow it. Something about Auburn and LSU brings out the funkiness in the football gods. Therefore, although I know the urge is there to make ultimate judgments on where Auburn is as a program after last Saturday’s loss, it is probably best to discount any outcome from this game.
The way that game unfolded can practically fit any narrative you’d like it to.
If you were ready to see less of Nix and more of Joey Gatewood before Saturday, you probably feel even more so now. But — despite some pretty egregious mistakes — shouldn’t Nix get some credit for not totally folding? He did, after all, lead the Tigers’ best drive near the end of the game. There’s no doubt in my mind he will improve, too.
Meanwhile, if you were anti-Malzahn before the kick, there were several in-game instances where he validated your disdain. However, an optimist would correctly point to Auburn’s grit and determination in a near comeback and upset of the new No. 1 team in the country.
Even though some fans have already made their decisions, the real determination of Malzahn’s fate should not be made until after the next four teams on the slate. If he cannot go 3-1 or better (considering the remaining quartet of opponents all have their flaws and all four are in Jordan-Hare) it will probably be best for both parties to move on.
The point is it’s not totally fair to judge Auburn, its coach or its quarterback on this one game against LSU. This Bengal Tiger team appears to be one of the best in the school’s history. In fact, based on the weirdness of the series, maybe all LSU games should be tossed when making a judgment.