Auburn Desecrates Alabama St; Turns Attention to LSU

September 10, 2018 By Skye Underwood

Auburn true-freshman wide receiver Anthony Schwartz catches a 57-yard Jarrett Stidham pass for a touchdown in the first half against Alabama State on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 in Auburn, Ala. Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

AUBURN, AL — Color no one surprised. Auburn fans knew their No. 7 Tigers were playing the role of Goliath on Saturday night as FCS opponent Alabama State, or David if you will, made their first ever visit to The Plains.

The biblical story of the giant falling in an upset heard ‘round the world would not be repeated on this muggy September Saturday evening as Auburn pummeled the overmatched Hornets, 63-9.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn had an opportunity to showcase his impressive, talented freshmen as running backs Boobee Whitlow, Shaun Shivers, and Asa Martin along with receiver Anthony Schwartz combined to rush for 302 yards on 32 carries after the Tigers churned out 429 yards on the ground, reminiscent of the type of power ground game that Tiger fans have grown accustomed to during the Malzahn era.

However, while the athleticism of the rookies shined, Auburn turned the ball over four times, all fumbles and three of the four turnovers were lost by freshmen — Whitlow, Asa Martin, and Matthew Hill. Former walk-on receiver, senior Griffin King also botched a punt return attempt, turning the ball over to the Hornets.

Fortunately for the Tigers, their ferocious defense forced Alabama State into four turnovers, too. Auburn junior safety Daniel Thomas continued his impressive play that carried over from the Washington game as the Montgomery native intercepted two passes including one that went for a “pick six.” In total, the Auburn defense snagged 3 interceptions and one fumble recovery, helping the Tigers finish even on the night in the all important turnover margin.

That said, the Tigers likely could have scored over 100 on Alabama State had they wanted to.

One of the more impressive performances of the game came from a talented true-freshman mentioned earlier, who just happens to have world-class speed and could state the claim as arguably college football’s fastest football player — wide receiver Anthony Schwartz scored his first two collegiate touchdowns of what’s sure to be an exciting career on The Plains.

The first score came on a 57-yard bomb from quarterback Jarrett Stidham placed beautifully in the hands of Schwartz at full-stride which carried him into the back of the endzone to celebrate with Auburn fans seated in the first row.

Schwartz’s second touchdown came on an end-around for a 23-yard score. The former four-star racked up 117 offensive yards from scrimmage against the Hornets on 3 catches and 3 rushes.

Not only was Schwartz’s big-play ability on display for Auburn fans to see, but it puts something on tape for LSU to think about, who is Auburn’s next opponent and the first from the SEC on the 2018 schedule. The Bayou Bengals have to know that if you crowd the box to stop the run against Auburn, Stidham will attack you over the top with speedsters like Schwartz, Slayton, and now Hastings.

Like Auburn, LSU has a nasty defense, led by one of the best linebackers in college football in Devin White and arguably the most dynamic cover corner in the country in Greedy Williams. However, the boys on the bayou suffered a significant loss in week-one versus Miami when their best pass-rusher, outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson went down for the season due to an injury he suffered against Miami.

Even after the loss, LSU still has some studs on that side of the ball so Auburn will have to come out firing on all cylinders and keep the intensity up for all four quarters, unlike last season when the Tigers built a twenty-point lead in the 1st half only to watch LSU come roaring back to beat the Tigers, 27-23.

No. 7 Auburn will look to avenge last year’s heart-breaking loss in Death Valley when No. 11 LSU visits Jordan-Hare Stadium this upcoming Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. central kickoff on CBS.

Auburn enters the contest as a 10-point favorite according to the wise guys in Vegas, but that may be a tad high considering the recent history of the SEC Western Division rivalry.

Then again, there have been times in the series, like 2014 for example, when LSU visited The Plains where I expected to see a close, hard fought game only to watch Auburn wipe the floor with the Bayou Bengals, 41-7.

LSU certainly returned the favor the following year when they unleashed The Kraken better known as Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 228 yards on the ground in helping LSU trounce Auburn, 45-21.

This game can be quirky so it’s hard to say what to expect, but it could be an ugly one, similar to the defensive slugfest we saw against previously No. 6 Washington when the Tigers escaped the Top 10 non-conference affair with a playoff caliber win.

Against the Huskies, Auburn faced adversity when Washington was on top of the Tigers, 16-15 in the middle of the fourth quarter. To the Tigers credit, they didn’t panic, but instead marched down the field in a terrific drive before Whitlow punched it into the end zone from ten-yards out for what would be the game-winning score, 21-16.

Not to be outdone, LSU is the only other college football program who has defeated a Top 10 opponent in the early stages of 2018 after routing then No. 8 Miami, 33-17.

LSU followed its beatdown of the ‘Canes with a 31-0 victory over Southeastern Louisiana this past Saturday in Red Stick.

Many predicted LSU would enter the Auburn game 1-1, so the Bayou Bengals are already exceeding expectations and riding high with a little bit of confidence.

Auburn on the other hand, still remembers that day in Baton Rouge last year and the agony of defeat it endured by the hands of the Bayou Bengals.

The LSU game was arguably the turning point in Auburn’s 2017 season as the Tigers reeled off five-straight wins to close out its regular season schedule as SEC West Champions after beating its two arch-rivals Alabama and Georgia, who at the time were both undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country.

Hopefully last year’s LSU game taught Auburn a lesson — if you’re gonna step on a team’s throat, leave your foot their till the clock strikes zero.

Auburn looked like the better team for the majority of the first half in last year’s game at LSU, but the Tigers had yet to develop the killer instinct mentality that’s required out of a championship caliber ball club.

LSU could very well beat Auburn on Saturday and it would be considered a mild upset. However, if Auburn does what they’re capable of doing, the Tigers will put together two halves of football versus LSU in 2018 reminiscent of the first half in last year’s matchup.

Auburn owns the nation’s 4th longest home wining streak which stands at 12 games, so if you remember anything about the last couple times the Tigers hosted big-time SEC rivals (UGA & AL), you already know that Jordan-Hare will be absolutely rocking come Saturday in a battle of Tigers, a ‘Tiger War.’