Joe Burrow, No. 2 LSU Stay Undefeated with 23-20 Win over Bo Nix, No. 9 Auburn

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 26, 2019

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA - OCTOBER 26: Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers throws a pass against the Auburn Tigers during the first half at Tiger Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The No. 2 LSU Tigers remain undefeated and earned their second win over a Top 10 team in the past three games with a 23-20 victory over No. 9 Auburn. 

LSU has run like a well-oiled machine all season thanks to the rise of quarterback Joe Burrow. The Heisman Trophy contender already set the single-season school record with 29 touchdown passes coming into this week. He added one to that total, along with a rushing touchdown, to move the Tigers (8-0) into a tie with Alabama for the top spot in the SEC West. 

This game wasn't as crisp as most of LSU's wins this season, but credit Auburn's defense for keeping things close until the fourth quarter. LSU had a sizable advantage in total yards (508-287) and first downs (30-16), but Auburn forced two turnovers and had a goal-line stand. 

Bo Nix struggled once again on the road against a ranked opponent. Auburn's freshman quarterback did have a late touchdown pass to help cut the deficit to three points, but his overall numbers left a lot to be desired. 

             

Notable Game Stats

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  • Joe Burrow, QB (LSU): 32-of-42, 321 yards, one touchdown, one interception; 13 carries, 31 yards, one touchdown
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB (LSU): 26 carries, 136 yards, one touchdown; seven receptions, 51 yards
  • Ja'Marr Chase, WR (LSU): eight receptions, 123 yards
  • Bo Nix, QB (AUB): 15-of-35, 157 yards, one touchdown, one interception
  • D.J. Williams, RB (AUB): 13 carries, 130 yards; two receptions, 21 yards
  • Roger McCreary, CB (AUB): one interception

          

Burrow Overcomes Slow Start to Carry LSU

Facing its most difficult test of the season, the Tigers offense looked mortal for the first time. Burrow's overall stat line was strong, and he made some terrific plays to keep the team going.

Auburn's defense, though, often frustrated Burrow and the running game. LSU's star quarterback made two bad throws—one of them was bad play-calling with a goal-line screen on fourth downon back-to-back drives in the third quarter that cost the team points.

Burrow's ability to keep those missed scoring opportunities from impacting his overall performance is one of the biggest reasons LSU looks like it can be a serious challenge to Alabama for the first time in eight years.

CBS Sports analyst Gary Danielson invoked comparisons between Burrow and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the game:

While it's hyperbole to compare any quarterback to Brady, Burrow's poise in the face of adversity on Saturday was reminiscent of what has made the Patriots star so effective for nearly two decades in the NFL.

After this major test, Burrow's next step on his Heisman campaign will come in two weeks on the road against Alabama.

       

Bo Nix Shows Inexperience on Big Stage

Expectations for Nix in 2019 were raised when he found Seth Williams for the game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds against Oregon on Aug. 31.

There will come a time, in the not-too-distant future, when Nix is considered one of the SEC's best quarterbacks. Saturday was a reminder of how much growth remains for the true freshman before he will hit the Burrow/Tua Tagovailoa heights.

For instance, D.J. Williams set up Auburn for a go-ahead field goal right before halftime with a 41-yard run that got the team to LSU's 32 with 13 seconds remaining. The next play saw Nix take a shot at the end zone by throwing to a well-covered Williams.

In a low-scoring contest with both defenses playing well, that's a mistake a quarterback with more experience likely wouldn't make.

Playing against an SEC schedule has tested Nix's mettle. He struggled against Florida's defense three weeks ago, completing a season-low 40.7 percent of his passes with one touchdown and three interceptions in a 24-13 loss.

Nix, who was rated as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country and a 5-star recruit by 247Sports, has a world of potential. He's just 19 years old, and this experience will serve him well.

It won't help Auburn's dwindling chances of winning the SEC West title this year, but if he learns from mistakes like that interception before halftime, the program's future will be incredibly bright.

               

What's Next?

Auburn will host Mississippi at Jordan–Hare Stadium on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. ET. LSU is off next week to prepare for its marquee showdown against No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 9 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.