Sept. 16, 2013
Auburn players celebrate a 41-7 victory at LSU's Tiger Stadium in 1999
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - On Sept. 20, 1997, near the end of a wild and crazy night at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, it had come to this: With 3:13 showing on the clock, Auburn trailed 28-24 and took over at its own 20-yard line.
Senior quarterback Dameyune Craig told his teammates they were going to win. They believed him. They always did. Nine plays later, running back Rusty Williams barreled into the end zone from the 1-yard line with 30 seconds left.
After Quentin Reese blocked LSU's long-shot 64-yard field goal attempt, it was over. Other than 10,000 or so howling Auburn fans, Tiger Stadium went silent.
LSU had rushed for 377 yards, including 232 by Cecil "The Diesel" Collins. It had wiped out a 21-7 Auburn lead. But Craig, in his first and only start at Tiger Stadium, wouldn't have it. He completed 23-of-44 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns. On the winning drive, he was 5-for-8 for 69 yards.
Auburn went on to go 10-3 that season, losing to 30-29 to Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
For the second time since 1997 and the first time since 2004, when he was a graduate assistant at LSU, Craig will return to Tiger Stadium on Saturday night. He'll return as Auburn's co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. He'll watch another quarterback, junior Nick Marshall, get his first and only start at Tiger Stadium when Auburn (3-0) and No. 6 LSU (3-0) meet at 6:45 p.m. on ESPN.
Craig said there is no reason for Marshall or any other Auburn player to be intimidated by the scene at Tiger Stadium.
"To me, it was never intimidating," Craig said. "It was always fun. We are excited about it. Coming off three straight wins, the confidence should be there that we can play with anybody. I know the guys are excited to make this trip."
The key to dealing with the Tiger Stadium environment, Craig said, is preparation and discipline.
"You have to focus on your assignment throughout the week and picture yourself making the plays," Craig said. "I tell me guys never look in the stands. There's no telling what you are going to see in the stands in Baton Rouge. From the moment we pull into that parking lot, it's going to be rocking.
"They try to make it an intimidating situation, but if we are focused on our job and the task at hand we'll be ready."
For most of the first decade of the 21st century, Auburn-LSU was the marquee game in the SEC West. In the 15 seasons from 1997 through 2011, the Auburn-LSU winner played in the SEC Championship Game nine times. But even before, Auburn and LSU played some memorable games.
LSU 7, Auburn 6, 1988, Tiger Stadium: Deep into the fourth quarter, Auburn's dominated LSU. But Tommy Hodson led the Bayou Bengals on a frantic drive and hit Eddie Fuller for the winning touchdown in a 7-6 victory. The Tiger Stadium road registered on the campus seismograph.
Auburn 30, LSU 26, 1994, Jordan-Hare Stadium: Auburn had the nation's longest winning streak at 14 games when LSU came to town. The visitors had the game well in hand, leading 23-14 with 14:17 left in the game. What unfolded next was one of the more bizarre chapters in Jordan-Hare Stadium history. Auburn intercepted five Jamie Howard passes, returning there for touchdowns, and won 30-26.
LSU 19, Auburn 15, 1996, Jordan-Hare Stadium: This one was remembered more for something that happened off the field. As Auburn and LSU locked up in a close game on the field, the old Sports Arena caught fire. The flames leapt high above the West side of the stadium and ash floated onto the playing field. Craig was injured and missed the fourth quarter, opening the door for LSU to win 19-15.
Auburn 41, LSU 7, 1999, Tiger Stadium: In the third game of Tommy Tuberville's first season, Auburn was a major underdog. But quarterback Ben Leard and wide receiver Ronney Daniels lit up the LSU defense and Auburn romped to a 41-7 victory. Auburn players smoked cigars after the game, angering LSU fans. Their anger was delayed, because most had long since left the stadium when the game ended.
Auburn 10, LSU 9, 2004, Jordan-Hare Stadium: Jason Campbell led Auburn on a nine-play, 59-yard drive to the winning touchdown. On third-and-12, he completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Courtney Taylor. John Vaughn missed the extra point attempt, but LSU's Ronnie Purdue was called for a personal foul. Vaughn made the next one. Junior Rosegreen intercepted a pass to clinch it. Auburn was not threatened again en route to a perfect record.
LSU 20, Auburn 18 OT, 2005, Tiger Stadium: Kenny Irons rushed for more than 200 yards, but John Vaughn missed five goal attempts in the swirling wind. Vaughn missed a 49-yarder that would have won it on the final play of regulation and a 39-yarder that would have sent the game to a second overtime.
LSU 30, Auburn 24, 2007: LSU trailed Auburn 24-23 and had the ball at the Auburn 23 as the clock ran past 30 seconds. It seemed obvious that LSU coach Les Miles would call for a game-winning field goal. Instead, quarterback Matt Flynn took the snap and threw to Demetrius Byrd for the winning touchdown with one second left.
Auburn 7, LSU 3, 2006, Jordan-Hare Stadium: In one of the more violent games in Jordan-Hare Stadium history Auburn got a touchdown on Brandon Cox's 1-yard sneak and turned LSU away deep in its own territory as time ran out.
Auburn 24, LSU 17, 2010, Jordan-Hare Stadium: Auburn rushed for 470 yards and won 24-17, but the game will long be remembered for Cam Newton's Heisman Trophy gallop through the LSU defense. Onterio McCalebb's 70-yard run broke a 17-17 tie in the fourth quarter. Auburn went on to win the national championship.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: