The Auburn Tigers have plenty of questions surrounding them as they head into game five of the season against the LSU Tigers in their SEC opener this Saturday. Last week Auburn struggled to win a game against Georgia State that saw Bo Nix benched and receivers coach Cornelius Williams fired on Sunday. The Tigers will also be looking to snap a losing streak in Baton Rouge. This is a place Auburn has not won at since 1999 when Tommy Tuberville smoked a cigar at mid-field after a 41-6 victory.
Auburn Keys Versus LSU
Bo Nix or TJ Finley?
The biggest question for Saturday’s game will be who starts at quarterback. Nix had shown progress through the first three games, but against Georgia State old habits returned. He struggled with the fundamentals once again of staying in the pocket and setting his feet. Too many inaccurate throws to open receivers resulted in his benching in favor of TJ Finley.
Finley also struggled with accuracy but led Auburn on a 13-play, 98-yard drive to basically win the game. Finley connected with Shedrick Jackson on a play that saw the quarterback have to make some moves with his legs before releasing the pass. Is that enough to overtake Nix as starter? It would seem hard to imagine Finley not starting after the performance. Also, an added element of the game will be that Finley transferred from LSU this offseason. He started five games for LSU in 2020.
Run The Ball
Whoever plays quarterback, Auburn needs to run the ball. The key weakness of the LSU defense this season has been their rush defense. In the opener against UCLA, LSU gave up 210 yards and Zach Charbonnet had a day. He rushed for 117 yards with a 10.6 average yards per carry. Then last Mississippi State had 115 yards on the ground. That’s a big rushing performance for any Mike Leach coached football team.
Tank Bigsby, Shaun Shivers, and Jarquez Hunter should have a big day if offensive coordinator Mike Bobo stays with the run game. Auburn is averaging 257 yards per game on the ground and seven yards per attempt. Now, Bigsby will need to stay away from fumbling the ball away like he did late against Georgia State, but Bryan Harsin has shown to have great trust in the freshman Hunter.
Make Max Johnson Win It
One key going into the Penn State game was getting pressure on Sean Clifford. Auburn was torched through the air from not being able to get to the quarterback. Through four games Max Johnson has thrown for 1,144 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has been sacked six times and has shown to make bad decisions when facing pressure.
Auburn needs players like T.D. Moultry, Colby Wooden, and Derick Hall to step up and live up to their talent. A good time to start will be on Saturday night against LSU. Those three have combined for six of the twelve sacks accumulated on the season. It would be a big addition for Auburn if Owen Pappoe is able to return after missing last week’s game against Georgia State.
Auburn Versus LSU Prediction
Auburn has not won in Baton Rouge since 1999, and they will not here. Both teams are not playing to the quality of football their fanbases would like and this game could have some interesting moments. The Auburn passing attack is still dicey and major questions and this group has struggled in big away games. It is a close game, but LSU wins 31-24.