This Saturday night one of the best rivalries in the SEC will have its latest installment when Auburn hosts LSU in a battle of Tigers. Both teams enter this game at 3-1, but those records seem to be misleading. LSU has won three straight and is full of confidence, and the Auburn fanbase is one not too optimistic despite coming off a win over Missouri. The game will be a primetime affair and will air on ESPN at 6 p.m. Central.
Auburn Hosts LSU
Auburn and LSU first played in football way back on November 20th in 1901. That initial meeting was won by Auburn with a score of 28-0. LSU holds the all-time lead in the series at 31-24-1. The Tigers from the plains have won the last two games and exercised some Death Valley demons last year by winning 24-19 in Baton Rouge. They had not won at Tiger Stadium since 1999 when then head coach Tommy Tuberville smoked a cigar at midfield after a 41-7 win.
The series has seen its fair share of unpredictable finishes. There was the 1988 “Earthquake Game” that saw LSU upset fourth-ranked Auburn 7-6. That loss was the only one in the regular season for Auburn and caused a tie for the SEC crown in 1988. That one loss cost Auburn a chance at winning a national championship that season too. Another memorable game in the rivalry is the 1994 game that saw Auburn only get one first down in the second half but win 30-26. LSU quarterback Jamie Howard threw five interceptions in the fourth quarter, and three were returned for touchdowns. LSU entered the final quarter with a 23-9 lead. That are just two examples of what this rivalry has brought college football fans over the years.
After losing the opening game 24-23 to Florida State, the LSU Tigers have rebounded quite well. They have won three straight games defeating Southern (65-17), Mississippi State (31-16), and New Mexico (38-0). The offense is led through the air and on the ground by quarterback Jayden Daniels. The Arizona State transfer has thrown for 835 yards and six touchdowns with a completion percentage of 73%. He has not thrown an interception through the first four games. Daniels also leads the team in rushing with 262 yards and has two touchdowns. He averages 274.3 yards per game. His leading receivers thus far have been emerging star Malik Nabors with 20 receptions and 264 yards with one touchdown,
Defensively the Tigers rank third in the SEC with 257.8 yards allowed per game. The defense is at its best against the pass allowing just 146.5 yards which ranks second. They are also one of the better teams in the conference getting to the quarterback with 11 on the year. The front seven is one that could and should give Auburn headaches. The group is led by linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. with 20 tackles. In the end, the position is both Sai’vion Jones and B.J. Ojulari. Jones leads the team with two and a half sacks. The Auburn offensive line has struggled to protect whoever is at quarterback so far this season.
Auburn was very lucky to get the win in their previous game against Missouri. There is a lot of noise around this program right now with the job status of Bryan Harsin being a constant discussion. There was even a report Saturday morning by The Athletics Bruce Feldman that had Auburn lost the game, Harsin would have been fired.
Auburn made a concerted effort to get the running game going and feature Tank Bigsby in the game. The run game still struggled due to the ineffectiveness of the offensive line. Bigsby rushed the ball 19 times for only 44 yards, and his longest run was 14 yards. The team rushed for 82 yards on 45 attempts with an average of 1.8 yards. That will need to be better Saturday night with the unreliability of the passing game with Robby Ashford. The Oregon transfer has the potential to make big plays with his legs but is undeveloped as a passer. T.J. Finley will be unavailable again this week due to an injury.
On the defense, Auburn is ranked ninth in the SEC and has struggled to get off the field at times. The last two opponents were able to find success on the ground against Auburn. They rank tenth in the SEC in run defense allowing 126.5 yards per game. The Missouri Tigers rushed for 133 yards against them, and Penn State had 245 the week prior. This is surprising knowing the talent Auburn has on that side of the ball. Derick Hall is tied for fourth in the SEC with three sacks, and Eku Leota is not far behind with two. Cam Riley sits at ninth in the conference with 30 tackles. Auburn will need to use those players to keep Jayden Daniels from hurting them and getting turnovers will be a must to help a struggling offense. They have only forced three turnovers through four games.
When Auburn hosts LSU, to have a chance at winning they will need the defense to create a short field for the offense. LSU is a solid team defensively, and with Auburn’s issues along the offensive line, it will be hard for them to score many points. They must be creative in the run game to get Bigsby the ball. The offensive issues are why LSU will win this game. The yellow and purple Tigers have more playmakers and will pull away in the second half. LSU wins 24-14.