BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Joe Burrow passed for 321 yards and a touchdown, ran for another score, and second-ranked LSU edged No. 9 Auburn 23-20 on Saturday.
The victory ensured LSU (8-0, 4-0 SEC) would be unbeaten heading into its highly anticipated trip to Alabama on Nov. 9, which entered this weekend ranked No. 1.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 136 yards and touchdown for LSU, which wasn’t able to put away Auburn (6-2, 3-2) until Derrick Dillon recovered an onside kick with 2:31 left.
While LSU’s prolific, up-tempo spread offense was able to roll up 508 yards, scoring proved relatively difficult against a gritty Auburn defense that thwarted LSU drives into its territory with a pair of fourth-down stops and an interception.
LSU came in averaging 50.1 points per game and had not previously scored fewer than 36 points in a game, but Auburn’s defensive front put pressure on Burrow, sacking him three times.
Still, Burrow didn’t flinch when he was leveled along the sideline after a first down scramble in the first half. He responded by completing five of his next six throws, ending with a 20-yard touchdown on a fade to Terrace Marshall Jr. Burrow completed 32 of 42 passes and his eighth career 300-yard passing performance gave him the most of any QB in LSU history. Ja’Marr Chase caught eight passes for 123 yards.
Bo Nix completed 15 of 35 passes for 157 yards and one late touchdown to Seth Williams that gave Auburn the opportunity to set up a meaningful onside kick.
D.J. Williams rushed for 130 yards for Auburn, which looked prime to go ahead by a touchdown in the third quarter when Williams sprinted into the open field from his own 20.
Safety Grant Delpit forced Williams out of bounds just inside the 10, and Auburn was not able to turn the 70-yard run into a touchdown, settling instead for a field goal and 13-10 lead.
That lead lasted until five minutes remained in the third quarter, in part because of LSU decided against a tying field goal attempt on fourth-and-goal from the Auburn 2, and instead tried a receiver screen to Ja’Marr Chase that was stopped a yard short of the goal line. Later in the quarter, LSU again was threatening to score when Burrow’s pass intended for Chase was intercepted by Roger McCreary at the Auburn 2.
That was the latest LSU had trailed in a game this season.
LSU finally pushed in front by going back to a running game that had struggled for most of the first three quarters. Edwards-Helaire ran four straight times for gains for 45 yards, capped by a 6-yard score to put LSU in front 16-13.
Burrow’s 7-yard rushing TD, capping a 67-yard drive in which LSU again leaned on the run, widened the lead to 23-13.
Auburn: Nix looked more prepared to play in a hostile environment than he did at Florida two weeks earlier. The freshman made his share of plays, but wasn’t quite consistent enough for Auburn to keep pace with a more seasoned and prolific LSU offense down the stretch.
LSU: Defensively, the game was encouraging for LSU, but the offense has stalled in the red zone a half dozen times in the past two games. LSU has gotten away with it so far, but that might not cut it in Tuscaloosa.
Auburn: Hosts Mississippi on Saturday.
LSU: Heads into its usual off week before its traditional early November date with Alabama.