BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — During most of Gus Malzahn's two-plus seasons as Auburn's head coach, his offense has usually had its way on the ground.
Now Auburn knows what its opponents have routinely endured, thanks to a career day from LSU Heisman Trophy contender Leonard Fournette.
No. 18 Auburn allowed 411 yards rushing, including 228 and three TDs from the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Fournette, and was never really competitive in a 45-21 loss to 13th-ranked LSU on Saturday.
"The bottom line is we got our rear kicked," Malzahn said. "That is what happened today. Congratulations to (LSU); they are a good team. There is no doubt they are good when they play at home. We are going to get better, roll our sleeves up and get ready for next week."
Fournette has 387 yards and six TDs through just the first two games of the season for the LSU (2-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference), which will go as far as its stellar sophomore running back can take it.
How far Auburn (2-1, 0-1) falls in the national rankings will be apparent by Sunday. With its lopsided loss in Death Valley coming one week after it needed overtime to avoid an upset by Jacksonville State, odds are Auburn will be the latest SEC squad to tumble out of the AP Top 25.
LSU's defense had a pretty good day, too, intercepting Auburn's Jeremy Johnson once and sacking him five times. Johnson fumbled on a sack by defensive tackle Frank Herron, who also recovered at the Auburn 5 to set up Fournette's final TD, a 1-yard dive over the pile. Davon Godchaux was credited with two sacks. Jamal Adams had LSU's interception and dropped a chance for another.
"We obviously got off to a rough start in the first half and our offense didn't give us a chance," Malzahn said. "They just didn't give any life to our defense."
Asked about possible switching QBs, Malzahn said, "We are going to evaluate everything — at every position."
Auburn running back Peyton Barber, who had surpassed 100 yards in each of his first two games this season, was held to 34 yards on seven carries.
Auburn trailed 24-0 at halftime and scored its first points when Johnson escaped up the middle of the field for a 65-yard scoring run early in the second half to make it 24-7, but it never got closer than that. Johnson also passed for touchdowns of 9 yards to Melvin Ray and 10 yards to D'haquille Williams after the game was out of reach.
Meanwhile, senior Auburn defensive back Jonathan Jones said his unit should have done better against Fournette and Co.
"Credit LSU," Jones said. "They came out and had a good game plan. As a defense we were not just able to make tackles and stop the run; plain and simple. As a defense, stopping the run has to be your top priority and we wanted to force LSU to throw the football. Too many missed tackles, miss alignments and missed assignments. But at the end of the day we have to be able to tackle and stop the run."
Auburn played without defensive end Carl Lawson. He has missed two games because of a hip injury.
"It was late in the week and he wasn't going to play," Malzahn said. "That is why he didn't travel. We are going to get back and see how he is doing. I am hopeful he will return this season; we will see."
The temperature was 91 degrees at kickoff, tying for the fifth-hottest start to a game in Tiger Stadium. While fans were fanning themselves and guzzling discounted bottles of water, Fournette blazed 71 yards on LSU's first play from scrimmage to set the tone for his day and set up Brandon Harris' short TD run on an option play.
Harris, who made his first career start in a 41-7 loss at Auburn last season, passed for just 74 yards, but that turned out to be plenty. The dual-threat QB also rushed for 66 yards on eight carries and two touchdowns.
AP college football website: http://www.collegefootball.ap.org