Who: #2 LSU Tigers at Auburn T..."/> Who: #2 LSU Tigers at Auburn T..."/>

Auburn Football: Auburn vs. #2 LSU Preview and Prediction


Who: #2 LSU Tigers at Auburn Tigers

When: 6:00 p.m. CT (ESPN)

Where: Auburn, Alabama

All-time series record: LSU leads 24-20-1

Most recent meeting: LSU 45, Auburn 10 (2011)

How many times in Auburn’s history have the Tigers struggled out of the gate, causing fans to expect a terrible season, only to play a top-ranked team, play toe-to-toe with them, win, then go on to have a good season? It’s happened quite a bit. This Saturday, Auburn fans will be hoping 2012 can be another one of those years, as #2 LSU rolls into town.

While Alabama has been the nation’s most dominant and popular team this year, the reigning SEC champions from Baton Rouge are on a roll to start the season, outscoring opponents 145-31 in three games. The Tigers made a statement with a 41-3 win over a pretty solid Washington Huskies team in week two.

The Bayou Bengals come into Jordan-Hare Stadium as the #2 team in the country. They were #3 last week but moved up after a terribly overrated USC team took a beating from Stanford. Auburn, meanwhile, is off to a very disappointing 1-2 start. The only win was in OT against UL-Monroe, and even though the Tigers won, Auburn fans were pretty quiet after the game. It was the least-celebrated Auburn win I’ve seen since I began watching Auburn football.

Not surprisingly, LSU is a 20-point favorite in this game. Auburn doesn’t match up well in this game, but Jordan-Hare has been a house of horrors for the Bayou Bengals. Here are both team’s key to winning:

Key for Auburn: Use the home-field advantage. It may sound like a poorly-thought out key to the game for Auburn, but it’s true. The only phase of the game where Auburn is as good as LSU is special teams. On paper, Gene Chizik’s team is outgunned and outmanned on both offense and defense in this game, but with a big home crowd, Auburn may get a chance to catch the momentum in front of a full stadium. That’s how Auburn’s pulled off home upsets in the past. The most recent case was in 2006, when Auburn beat #2 Florida (the eventual national champions). Florida was better than Auburn in every way, and it wasn’t even close, but the home crowd propelled Auburn to big plays, recovered turnovers and, ultimately, a 27-17 win. Of course, the 2012 team isn’t quite the 2006 team.

Key for LSU: Do what you do. Outside of the Alabama games last season, LSU used the same formula to win every game: dominant defense, great special teams and an offense that would move the ball better and better as the game went on. Les Miles’ squad always struggles early in games, but all it ever takes is one play for LSU to bust a game wide open. Last year, when Auburn visited LSU, the home Tigers led just 7-3 with five minutes left in the first half. They then got a big touchdown pass, and 20 minutes of game-time later, LSU led 42-3. LSU must fight through a tough environment at Jordan-Hare and execute their gameplan, which is, like always, playing great defense and running the football.

Auburn players to watch: The offensive line. To pull an upset over maybe the nation’s best team, you have to be able to run the football. LSU’s defensive line is absolutely fantastic, likely the best Auburn will face all year. The o-line will have their work cut out for them. It’s crucial that the Tigers get a solid ground game going, because Frazier lacks the confidence to carry this offense with his arm. He had one completion in the second half against UL-Monroe, so asking him to throw all over LSU’s secondary would be like asking Katy Perry to make a song that doesn’t sound dreadful.

LSU player to watch: Sam Montegomery. Auburn’s Corey Lemonier is one of the top two defensive ends in the SEC and is among the best in the nation. Who’s the second dominant defensive end from the SEC? Sam Montegomery, who will be licking his chops to get to Kiehl Frazier. He’s a force on LSU’s excellent defensive line, and if Frazier doesn’t get rid of the ball quickly, Montegomery may leave Jordan-Hare as a darkhorse Heisman contender…. at least, according to LSU fans.

Auburn vs. LSU edges:

Quarterback: LSU

Running back: LSU (close)

Wide receiver: Auburn (close)

Tight end: Auburn

Offensive line: LSU

Defensive line: LSU (close)

Linebackers: LSU

Cornerbacks: LSU

Safeties: LSU

Kicker: Auburn (close)

Punter: LSU (close)

Coaching: LSU

Interesting facts: The home team has won 12 of the last 13 meetings between the two…. The only Auburn-LSU game in the last 13 seasons that has seen the road team win is in 2008, when #6 LSU beat #10 Auburn 26-21…. LSU is 4-1 in the last five games against Auburn…. Auburn’s special teams have been truly special this year, blocking three field goals and returning a kick-off for a touchdown…. LSU’s run defense has been dominant this year, holding teams to under 50 yards a game on the ground…. Auburn is 21-3 at home under Gene Chizik, but two of those losses were to a team ranked #2 in the country. LSU comes into this game ranked #2 in the country….

Prediction: With this game being at home, Auburn fans will pack Jordan-Hare Stadium and make for a great environment. Auburn fans will be hopeful that some breaks will go their way and Gene Chizik will get his biggest win since 2010. However, that optimism will be at a minimum among most Auburn fans, and for good reason. LSU is better in every area of the game. As much as I’d like for Auburn to pull a big upset, looking at this game realistically, LSU is simply better than Auburn is. LSU’s offense will move well and Frazier wll struggle to throw the ball against LSU’s tough defense. It will also be tough for Auburn to get a run game going. LSU goes into Jordan-Hare and wins huge.

#2 LSU Tigers 34, Auburn Tigers 10

Other SEC predictions:

#1 Alabama 49, Florida Atlantic 0 (The Tide records their 4th shutout in 5 games.)

#14 Florida 45, Kentucky 10 (Florida’s on a roll, so Kentucky will get rolled.)

#7 South Carolina 34, Missouri 23 (Mizzou’s first two games against UGA and USCe? Ouch.)

#5 Georgia 23, Vanderbilt 17 (Upset alert, but UGA survives at home.)

#23 Mississippi State 48, South Alabama 14 (MSU won’t need a late score in this game.)

Rutgers 27, Arkansas 24 (Rutgers is better than Arkansas, even with Tyler Wilson.)

Tennessee 56, Akron 14 (Tennessee must bounce back from disappointment vs. Florida.)

Ole Miss 45, Tulane 17 (Defense rallies from giving up 66 to Texas last week.)

Texas A&M 63, South Carolina State 7 (Yeah, pretty much.)

Predictions for other notable games:

#10 Clemson 26, #4 Florida State 23 (OT) (Tigers shock ‘Noles in OT, become legit BCS contender.)

#3 Oregon 55, #22 Arizona 27 (Nice start at ‘Zona for RichRod, but they’re not ready for this… yet.)

#6 Oklahoma 38, #15 Kansas State 17 (Not even Bill Snyder can win in Norman.)

#11 Notre Dame 26, #18 Michigan 21 (What? Notre Dame’s actually good this year?)

#13 USC 45, California 35 (Trojans bounce back, but don’t look dominant.)

#19 UCLA 31, Oregon State 28 (Pac-12, meet the new, improved UCLA Bruins.)

Upset Special: UTEP 21, Wisconsin 17 (UTEP’s solid defense stops Wisconsin’s disappointing offense.)

If Auburn wins this game, that would be Gene Chizik’s biggest win at Auburn outside of some wins during the 2010 BCS title run. However, the odds are greatly against the home Tigers in this one. Either way, Jordan-Hare will be electric Saturday night.