'Defining moment:' Auburn didn't quit, began run at LSU
Sept. 30, 2014
By Charles Goldberg
Nick Marshall and Auburn turned a season around in the second half in Baton Rouge
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- It was disappointing, to be sure, but out of last season's loss to LSU came something good.
Auburn didn't quit after a disappointing first half in rainy Baton Rouge, made a game out of it, and rallied in the following weeks to win the SEC title and make it all the BCS Championship Game.
"I think last year that was a turning point in our season," says center Reese Dismukes. "We didn’t play very well in the first half. We came out in the second half and were able to fight and get back in the game to some extent.
"I think it was just kind of a motivating factor for our team moving forward that we had that in us and we didn’t give up and we fought to the end of that game."
LSU won 35-21, but Auburn can even that score in a rematch in Jordan-Hare Stadium at 6 p.m. Saturday. This time, Auburn is the favorite, with a No. 5 national ranking. LSU is No. 15.
LSU has beaten Auburn three straight times, and six of the last seven meetings.
"I think that’s the only team in the SEC I haven’t beaten," Dismukes said. "That would be nice, but it’s not about that. It’s about being 5-0 and doing whatever you’ve got to do to help this team win and be 5-0."
LSU's win last year was Auburn's only regular-season loss. Even today, coach Gus Malzahn said LSU "embarrassed" Auburn in the first half. LSU led 14-0 in the first five minutes and led by 21 at the half.
But Auburn was stronger in the second half, cutting the score getting inside the LSU 5 in a last-ditch effort as the game wound down, just missing on an onside kick before that.
Malzahn sensed, prophetically that night, the second-half effort would mean something.
"We've got some disappointed guys in there, and that's a good thing," he said that night. "They want to win. That will help us moving forward with that attitude."
A year later, Malzahn said "that was one of the defining moments of our entire year last year at halftime. And we got embarrassed in the first half. They got after us real good. Not a whole lot was good in offense, defense or special teams.
"Our guys decided at halftime that hey, they weren't going to shut her down. They were going to keep fighting. And we fought back, and it really gave us some momentum for the rest of the season."
Auburn, indeed, won its next nine games.
"Even though it hurts right now," Malzahn said that night, "there were some good things to build on for the rest of the year."