In the early years of the aughts, the LSU-Auburn game was the SEC West, and SEC at large some years, game to watch. Both Tigers were finding their strides and it seemed whoever won the battle would have a good or great year. A loss didn't mean a bad year, but it usually mean titles were off the table. While Auburn has been up and down the past few years while LSU has been, well, winning, the game still feels like it carries all the importance of a season-defining game. More past the break.
The definitive moment in the series, though came years before in 1988. By now, everyone knows of it, but the Earthquake Game will never be forgotten. The night the crowd roared so deafeningly that it measured on the Richter scale in the Howe-Russell Geoscience building halfway across campus. Tommy Hodson to Eddie Fuller will forever be immortalized. This year's tilt actually marks the 25th anniversary of that game, which saw the Good Tigers win 7-6 thanks to that momentous play.
A decade later, LSU-Auburn would find themselves playing big games every single year.
The recent hate got it's beginning in 1999, when Auburn players thought smoking stogies at midfield after beating LSU in Tiger Stadium to honor Tommy Tuberville's birthday would be a good idea. It was not. I don't believe in superstition, but Auburn's not won in Baton Rouge since that game.
From 2000 to 2007, the home team won every game. While not every tilt was a single possession game, they were all competitive. Both teams based their seasons off the outcome of this game.
In recent years though, a little of the hot hate has cooled off, as Auburn–outside of the Cam Newton year–hasn't been the most competitive. LSU got out of Auburn winning by only two points last season, but Auburn was atrocious last year. Plus, LSU drubbed the Wareagletiger Plainsmen in Tiger Stadium in 2011 by a score of 45-10. The games haven't exactly been beautiful lately, but there is still the fire just below the surface.
Alabama hate will burn bright no matter the year no matter the circumstance, but there will always be a special place for Auburn. Years that LSU has beaten Auburn certainly feel more successful than years when Auburn takes the glory, even in the years when LSU goes on the win double-digit games. Maybe it's those early aught matches when both teams were more evenly matched, but it feels good to notch a victory over Auburn.
This year, Auburn's feeling a little resurgent under first-year head coach Gus Malzahn, but this will be the first actual test of his tenure. Auburn's got some talent still in the cupboard, but LSU should be easily the better team Saturday. So while LSU may be walking away with a predetermined win Saturday, believe that the rivalry will still be there, right under the surface, ready for another cardiac-moment game.