One of the more undervalued rivalries in college football is the Auburn vs LSU rivalry. These two programs have had some of the most memorable games over the last three decades. Not only have the games been memorable throughout the years, but they have gotten weird at times as well. Some examples are the 1988 “Earthquake Game”, the old Auburn Sports Arena catching on fire in 1994, John Vaughn missing five field goals in 2005, and the game that got Les Miles fired in 2016. Those are just to name a few. This year’s game in Auburn and on Halloween should be a classic like those listed.
2020 Auburn vs LSU Preview
This year is different than previous years with neither of the teams being ranked. It has been almost 20 years since that last occurred in this rivalry. Auburn comes in at 3-2 and LSU is at 2-2, and neither program can afford to lose this one. For Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, it is especially important. While at Auburn, Malzahn has done well beating the teams he is supposed to beat. It is his record against the big three in Alabama, Georgia, and LSU that has been a struggle. He currently sits at 7-16 against Auburn’s biggest rivals and has lost the last three against the Tigers from the Bayou.
When Auburn Has the Ball
Auburn did a much better job last week against Ole Miss at putting quarterback Bo Nix in better situations. Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chad Morris came in with a more run-heavy game plan than they have had in previous weeks. Auburn went to the ground game 47 times and was led by true freshman Tank Bigsby with 129 yards and two touchdowns. The run game gave Nix much more manageable passing situations, and he was an efficient 23 for 30 with 238 yards and one touchdown. It will be important for Auburn to do the same this week when going against LSU.
The LSU defense in 2020 is not the quality that college football fans are accustomed to seeing. This year’s unit is giving up 30 points per game and 471.8 yards per contest. They currently are the third worse in the SEC in that second statistic. Auburn should not take this group lightly though. LSU does present two problems for this Auburn team. First, Auburn may have to look away from star receiver Seth Williams due to him more than likely be defended by Derek Stingley. Stingley is one of the better cover corners in the country and forcing passes to his side would be unwise. Second, LSU has the ability to get to the quarterback and Auburn has struggled at protecting the quarterback at times this season. LSU was able to get five sacks against South Carolina last week.
When LSU Has the Ball
Like the LSU defense, the Auburn defense has also had its issues this season. Currently, the Auburn defense is ranked sixth in the SEC in total defense but is in the bottom three against the run. LSU found its rush attack against South Carolina by gaining a total of 265 yards. In the previous three games, the run game averaged just 96.7 yards on the ground. The absence of leader and linebacker K.J. Britt could be greatly evident in this game.
Assignment football will be key for the Auburn defense with true freshman quarterback T.J. Finley getting his second start due to Myles Brennan being out with injury. In the freshman’s debut, he was 17 for 21 for 265 yards and two touchdowns. LSU did a tremendous job putting Finley in good situations to succeed against the Gamecocks. He will also be a lot to deal with as a runner due to his big frame. Finley sits at 6’6 and 242 pounds. Auburn will need to make sure to tackle well on Saturday.
2020 Auburn vs LSU Prediction
This game will come down to a lot of factors on who wins. How will the LSU freshman quarterback handle his first road start in the SEC? Can Auburn keep the run game going with Bigsby to open up more opportunities for Nix? Can an Auburn receiver not named Williams step up? Has the LSU defense improved?
With all those questions, this should be a tight game throughout. In the last three contests, it has been decided by a total of seven points. All three games have been won by LSU. This game will not be won by either defense and should be an offensive showcase. With that said, the pick is Auburn 35, LSU 31.