Louisiana Tech at #5 Auburn Tigers Preview and Predictions

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Sep 6, 2014; Lafayette, LA, USA; Louisiana Tech Bulldogs running back Jarred Craft (22) is congratulated by quarterback Cody Sokol (19) and offensive linesman Darrell Brown (75) after a touchdown agains the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns in the second half at Cajun Field. Louisiana Tech defeated Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns 48-20. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Keys to the Game:

Key for Auburn: Fix the rushing issues that showed themselves against Kansas State. The Wildcats have a strong rush defense (last year, they held Baylor to 114 rushing yards, 146 yards below their season average), but Auburn was still disappointed in their 128-yard rushing effort as a team on Thursday night. The Bulldogs have a solid rush defense, as they held Oklahoma to 183 rushing yards in the season opener in Norman and have yielded even fewer yards against their other opponents. Going up against a defensive front seven that isn’t that talented but plays solidly as a unit will be good practice for this Auburn rushing attack.

Key for Louisiana Tech: Get off to a hot start. Louisiana Tech played their first three games of the season on the road. In their loss at Oklahoma, they were down 21-0 after only one quarter and trailed 31-3 at the half in route to a blowout loss. In their road wins over Louisiana and North Texas, they jumped out to 41-7 and 28-0 leads, respectively. Of course, on the talent scale, Auburn is far closer to Oklahoma than they are ULL or UNT. If La Tech falls behind in the opening quarter of this game, their third loss is inevitable.

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  • Auburn Player to Watch: Corey Grant, Peyton Barber and Roc Thomas. Before the season, many figured that Auburn’s rushing attack would be “runner-by-committee,” but instead, it’s been dominated by a single back just like the end of last year. Artis-Payne has 64 carries for 352 yards and four scores. Grant, Barber and Thomas have a combined 40 carries for 275 yards and two scores. It’ll be interesting to see if one of these backs, particularly Grant, finally has a break-out game against the Bulldogs.

    Louisiana Tech Players to Watch: The entire offensive line. Running the ball has been a struggle for the Bulldogs, who rank 97th in college football in rushing yards per game. That’s not a good position to be in when you’re going up against a defense that has given up just 108 rushing yards in their last ten quarters, including just 40 for the game by Kansas State. In addition, LTU quarterback Cody Sokol isn’t exactly the most mobile quarterback, as he has just 5 rushing yards on 20 carries this season. This offensive line will need to have their best game of the year against a fantastic defensive line.