No. 18 Auburn @ No. 13 LSU Game of the Week Preview
With two solid weeks of college football in the books, the stage is set for two teams to prove their worth in the AP poll as the No. 18 Auburn Tigers head to Baton Rouge to take on the No. 13 LSU Tigers in this weeks game of the week.
Gus Mahlzan’s Auburn team is 2-0 to start the season, but after being ranked sixth in the nation after a week one win against Louisville, Auburn barely squeaked out a week two win by a touchdown to a Jacksonville State team to which they were 39-point favorites.
The team dropped to No. 18 in the AP poll despite being undefeated.
Les Miles’ LSU Tigers have only seen the field once so far this season, but they delivered in their first game of the season with a big two-point victory over #25 Mississippi State last Saturday.
Riding the hot hand, LSU hopes to continue its success on the ground with sophomore running back phenom Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 159 yards on 28 carries and accounted for all three of the Tigers touchdowns against Mississippi State.
Auburn’s defense has suffered some tremendous losses coming into this matchup. Top pass rusher Carl Lawson was lost in the first half of the season opener against Louisville and the defense hasn’t been the same since. Safety Trey Matthews and linebacker Justin Garrett are also day-to-day. If Auburn wants to have a chance against LSU’s run attack, these key players need to be healthy.
Auburn also lost cornerback Josh Holsey to a torn ACL last week. The loss of his presence might give LSU quarterback Brandon Harris more options down field and, in turn, make the running game much more dangerous with Fournette in the back field.
Death Valley is one of the toughest college football venues to win at on the road and it doesn’t help Auburn’s case that the LSU pass rush was on Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott all game last weekend, hurrying him eight times and recording three sacks.
Even though Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson has yet to be sacked this season, he has been hurried quite a lot, forcing him to throw into tight coverage which has resulted in five interceptions in just two games.
Johnson’s offensive line will have its hands full protecting the pocket as well as opening seams for sophomore running back Peyton Barber to burst through. One pass rusher on the LSU defense to keep an eye on is linebacker Deion Jones, who led his team in tackles against Mississippi State.
A potential difference-maker in this game is Auburn receiver D’haquille Williams who returns to his home state. Williams, a former LSU commit, will need to show off his skill-set in a game full of big implications. If Johnson and Auburn can count on their star wide out in this game, they will be in good standing against a strong LSU team.
Expect this game to be a defensive battle. With holes due to injury, LSU appears to be the clear favorite as they come into the week as seven point favorites according to ESPN.com.
PREDICTION: LSU–23, Auburn-14
Mike D’Avella is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org