BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Auburn's opening drive looked promising until Nick Marshall mishandled a fourth-down hand-off in LSU territory.
Three plays later, LSU running back Jeremy Hill raced 49-yards to the end zone, foretelling a difficult night for Auburn in a rainy Tiger Stadium.
Hill rushed for a career-high 184 yards to go along with three touchdowns as sixth-ranked LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) handed Auburn (3-1, 1-1) its first loss of the season, 35-21 on Saturday night.
"I think it was obvious that at the first of the game we didn't respond very well to the elements and the crowd," first-year Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "We got ourselves into a hole. We were fighting uphill the rest of the day. We made some mistakes but I'm proud of how our guys battled and came back. That first quarter it was raining pretty good and we were just never able to get into a rhythm."
Auburn's misfortune continued on its second possession on a bobbled snap by punter Steven Clark. Hill would score on the ensuing play from 10 yards out. A 54-yard run by Hill early in the second quarter set up a one-yard touchdown run by J.C. Copeland to make it 21-0.
Jermaine Whitehead's interception of LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger early in the third quarter led to Auburn's first score on a 2-yard run by Tre Mason. Mason would add another 2-yard touchdown run later in the quarter, cutting LSU's lead to 28-14.
Mason finished as Auburn's leading rusher with 132 yards on 26 carries.
"Tre is definitely a good back and is a tough guy," Malzahn said. "He wanted the football and any time you want the football that is a good thing. Overall I thought he had a solid night."
However, LSU promptly answered when Mettenberger connected with Jarvis Landry for a 32-yard touchdown reception to make it 35-14.
LSU coach Les Miles applauded his team's fast start and its timely answers to Auburn's second-half surges, but Miles also said he would have liked the game to have "a nice, orderly finish," adding, "That was not what I consider orderly."
Cameron Artis-Payne added a late 12-yard touchdown run for Auburn to cut the game to 35-21.
"There is no doubt that we had some missed opportunities tonight," Malzahn said. "You have to be able to seize the moment and it is frustrating when you don't. We didn't execute like we can at times."