LSU prepares to face Auburn with TJ Finley possibly at QB again

LSU prepares to face Auburn with TJ Finley possibly at QB again
LSU quarterback TJ Finley (No. 11) (Source: Gus Stark/Gus Stark / LSU Athletics)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is trying to avoid four straight losses to LSU, as he and his Tigers host Ed Orgeron’s Tigers, a team trying to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, on Halloween in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“We are hosting the defending national champions and have had three consecutive tough losses against LSU,” said Malzahn. “If you look back at 2017, we went up 20-0, they had a big punt and got the momentum, and we lost that game. Thinking about 2018, we were up the whole game at home, we had two 15-yard penalties on the last drive, and they kicked a field goal on the last play of the game. Last year was a dogfight all the way down to the end and a tough one to take. I’ll tell you this, our guys are extremely excited and motivated to play this game.”

Orgeron shared some more thoughts on that huge LSU victory from two years ago on Cole Tracy’s 42-yard field goal to beat top 10 Auburn at the gun.

“Relief; I was so happy that we won ... but it was a hot day; we went there, we went with a great mindset, that whatever it took, we were going to win the game,” said Orgeron. “I remember at one point in the game, Auburn had started running the football on us. We had to fight back. I remember that last drive, Stephen Sullivan making that play. When we put our kicker out there, I knew he was going to win the game. It was just a tremendous feeling, a feeling of relief. There was a lot of stuff going on, people were talking this, people were talking that. I think that kind of quieted things down a little bit for us.”

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TJ Finley during the first half of a game between LSU and South Carolina at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.(Photo by: Chris Parent / LSU Athletics)
TJ Finley during the first half of a game between LSU and South Carolina at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.(Photo by: Chris Parent / LSU Athletics) (Source: Chris Parent/Chris Parent / LSU Athletics)

In the present, it certainly appears true freshman TJ Finley could be making another start at quarterback for LSU. He is the first LSU true freshman to win his first start when it came against an SEC opponent.

Speaking to the “Off the Bench” radio show Tuesday, Coach O said Myles Brennan didn’t do much Monday and he’s not sure if Brennan will be ready to go.

And while roughly 70,000 of Jordan-Hare’s 87,000 seats will be empty, it would still be Finley’s first-ever road start and a less comfortable environment than against South Carolina.

Terrace Marshall Jr. during the first half of a game between LSU and South Carolina at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.(Photo by: MG Miller / LSU Athletics)
Terrace Marshall Jr. during the first half of a game between LSU and South Carolina at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.(Photo by: MG Miller / LSU Athletics) (Source: MG Miller/MG Miller / LSU Athletics)

“TJ got his feet wet; he was a very confident quarterback, so I believe in him in any situation against any team,” said wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. "No matter who’s back there behind the pocket, I’ve got my trust in anybody who’s throwing me the ball.

“When I was back there with him in the game, he’s real comfortable; he’s real comfortable back there,” added running back Tyrion Davis-Price. “He doesn’t panic because he was made for that moment. He’s made for big moments and I think he’s going to do just fine, even better, actually, I think.”

Marshall has a touchdown every three times he touches the ball this season - 27 catches and nine scores. He has 512 receiving yards (19.0 avg). He has caught a touchdown pass in seven straight games, which is tied for a school record. He leads the SEC and is ranked No. 2 in the nation in touchdown receptions.

Tyrion Davis-Price during the first half of a game between LSU and South Carolina at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.(Photo by: Mitchell Scaglione / LSU Athletics)
Tyrion Davis-Price during the first half of a game between LSU and South Carolina at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.(Photo by: Mitchell Scaglione / LSU Athletics) (Source: Mitchell Scaglione/Mitchell Scaglione / LSU Athletics)

Davis-Price has 50 carries for 245 yards (4.9 avg) and two touchdowns so far this season.

LSU (2-2) at Auburn (3-2) is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. The game will air on CBS.

The last four games between the teams have been decided by a total of 13 points. The home team in the series has won 17 of the last 20 meetings dating back to 2000 when Auburn beat LSU, 34-17, in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Expect The Unexpected When LSU and Auburn Get Together

1988: LSU’s Tommy Hodson hit Eddie Fuller in the back of the endzone on fourth down with 1!41 left to lift the Tigers to a 7-6 win over fourth-ranked Auburn. The noise from the stadium crowd after the play registered on a seismograph across campus prompting the game to be titled “The Earthquake Game.”

1994: Auburn intercepted five passes in the fourth quarter, returning three for TDs as the Tigers rally to post a 30-26 win over LSU in a game that has become known as “The Interception Game.”

1995: LSU donned white jerseys at home for the first time since the early 1980′s and promptly went out and upset fifth-ranked Auburn, 12-6. LSU preserved the win with an interception in the endzone on the last play of the game. The contest was dubbed the “Bring Back the Magic” game.

1996: With the old Auburn Sports Arena burning to the ground a couple hundred yards away, LSU beat Auburn, 19-15, in a game titled “The Night the Barn Burned.”

1997: Titled “The Comeback,” Auburn QB Dameyune Craig engineered a 10-play, 80-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to spark the Tigers to a 31-28 upset of 10th-ranked LSU.

2004: Titled “The Call,” Auburn appeared to have missed an extra point with 1!14 left that would have left the game tied at 9-9. However, LSU was called for a penalty on the extra point, thus giving Auburn a second chance at winning the game. The second PAT was good, and Auburn held on for a 10-9 win, snapping LSU’s 10-game winning streak.

2005: Auburn missed five field goals, including one in overtime, as LSU held on for a 20-17 win over Auburn in Tiger Stadium. The win helped propel LSU to the SEC Western Division title and the game is now known as the “Field Goal Game.”

2007: “Can’t See Me” Demetrius Byrd caught a 22-yard TD pass from Matt Flynn with just one second left to send LSU to a 30-24 win over Auburn in Tiger Stadium. The play seemed to have caught Auburn off-guard as the Tigers could have attempted a 39-yard field goal for the win. However, LSU took one final shot at the endzone as Flynn connected with Byrd for the score, who then gave the “Can’t See Me” gesture to the LSU student section after coming up with the catch.

2008: Freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee led LSU on a 7-play, 54-yard capped with an 18-yard TD pass to Brandon LaFell as the LSU Tigers rallied for a 26-21 win over Auburn. It marked the second straight year that LSU scored in the closing moments of the game to beat Auburn.

2010: Cam Newton rushed for 217 yards and 2 TDs in fourth-ranked Auburn’s 24-17 win over undefeated and sixth-ranked LSU in Jordan-Hare Stadium. As a team, Auburn rushed for 440 yards, the most ever given up by an LSU team.

2011: LSU stepped out of its usual home attire and donned the Nike Pro Combat uniforms and responded with a 45-10 win in Tiger Stadium in what was the most lopsided victory (for either team) in the series.

2012: Trailing 10-9 at the half, No. 2 LSU held off an unranked Auburn team using a third-quarter field goal to prevail 12-10. Drew Alleman’s field goal proved to be the only points for either team in the second half. Sam Montgomery had a safety and finished with 3.5 tackles for loss.

2016: Quarterback Danny Etling drove LSU the length of the field and connected with DJ Chark on 15-yard game-winning touchdown drive with no time remaining on the clock. The call was overturned by video review citing no time remaining on the clock and LSU fell to Auburn, 18-13. On the previous play, LSU was flagged for an illegal shift after picking up a first down at the Auburn 2-yard line with 0:01 to play. With the clock starting on the official’s whistle, Etling - who rolled out of the pocket and found Chark for a tip-toe grab in the back-right corner of the endzone - was ruled to have received the snap after time had expired.

2017: Trailing 20-0 early in second quarter, LSU rallied for a 27-23 win to mark the largest comeback victory in a SEC game in Tiger Stadium for the Tigers. DJ Chark’s 75-yard fourth quarter punt return got LSU to with 23-21 and then Connor Culp provided the go-ahead points on a 42-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 24-23 with 2:36 to go. Culp added a 36-yard field with 38 seconds left for the final margin.

2018: Down 21-13 midway through the fourth quarter, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow connected with Derrick Dillon for 71 yards on the first play of the drive to make it a two-point game at 21-19. After a defensive stop by LSU and with just over five minutes left in the contest, Burrow marched the Tigers down the field on a 14-play, 52-yard drive to the Auburn 24 where Cole Tracy drilled a 42-yard field goal as time expired, sending LSU to a 22-21 win over seventh-ranked Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Tracy’s field goal marked the first time in school history LSU won a game on a field goal on the final play of regulation.

2019: No. 2 LSU overcame a pair of turnovers to defeat No. 9 Auburn, 23-20. Defensively, LSU held Auburn to 287 yards, forced 10 punts and had three sacks, as quarterback Bo Nix managed only 15-of-35 passing for 157 yards with a touchdown and an interception. LSU was led by quarterback Joe Burrow, who posted career highs in passes (32) and attempts (42) for 321 yards with a touchdown passing and another rushing that put the homestanding Tigers ahead by 10 points early in the fourth quarter. It was the closest game LSU had in the 2019 perfect season.

LSU leads the all-time series, 31-22-1.

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