Oh man. You know those Christmas get-togethers where it’s the one time of year where you have to visit with the crazies in your distant family?
Well, these LSU-Auburn games are that crazy side of the family. Something completely bizarre and unexpected always happens and the games rarely end up with all your fingernails intact. Again, something crazy.
Here are some examples in this rivalry over the last 30-odd years via the game nicknames, some you know, some you don’t.
- 1988 – The Earthquake Game
- 1994 – The Pick Six Game
- 1995 – The Whistle Game
- 1996 – The Barn Burner
- 1999 – The Victory Cigar Game
- 2004 – The Personal Foul Game
- 2005 – The Missed Kicks Game
- 2006 – The Grand Theft Auburn Game
- 2016 – The Les Miles School of Clock Management Game
Are we in for another instant classic this year? Odds are the answer is going to be yes. Well, maybe. More on that below.
Both Tigers come into this one with a 3-1 record but also with a very different feel to them. LSU got a "week off" by playing New Mexico and plastering the Lobos 38-0. Auburn comes into this one very shaky. After getting routed by Penn State the week before, the Plainsmen would’ve lost Saturday’s overtime game vs. Missouri if only Nathaniel Peat hadn’t committed the ultimate fundamental sin and tried to reach the ball over the goal line on what would’ve been a sure touchdown had he held the ball with two hands. Peat ended up fumbling into the end zone where Auburn recovered to seal the game in overtime. (Just watch for yourself, starting around the 9:19 mark, if you haven't seen it already. It’s fascinating… and frustrating, depending on which side you’re on.)
With those two mindsets – one of confidence, one knowing they should've lost – it will be interesting to see how these two teams approach this game from the eyebrows up.
LSU at Auburn
When LSU Has the Ball
The Tigers need to keep getting Jayden Daniels in his comfort zone. And he has looked like it the last few weeks. Against New Mexico it looked like offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock appeared to put in more short drops/quick-snap passes into Daniels’ repertoire so that he wasn’t just dropping back and tucking and running as much as he did in the first few games. Daniels finished the game going 24-of-29 for 279 yards and rushing nine times for 37 yards. The yin and yang is that he has yet to throw an interception this season, but on the downside, he was sacked four times against the Lobos.
Auburn has got to be able to stop the run, first and foremost. LSU looks like it is starting to find its cleats in the running game, posting 219 yards on the ground against New Mexico, the Tigers' third straight game of 200-plus yards in the rushing department. Meanwhile against Auburn, Missouri was able to keep its consistency on the ground with the aforementioned Peat gaining 120 yards (before his poorly timed fumble) and Cody Schrader supplying some quality yards as well. The AU defensive front seven looks like a liability so far.
When Auburn Has the Ball
It goes without saying that the Tank has (mostly) tanked so far this season. After gaining 147 yards on FCS Mercer, running back Tank Bigsby has not topped the 51-yard mark against San Jose State, Penn State, or Missouri. In all, he’s averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. It’s not all his fault as the Plainsmen O-line has been boney-armed against good teams. The Tigers had 71 rushing yards in their first two drives again Mizzou, taking a 14-0 lead. But after that they managed just 11 yards on the ground in the final four frames. ELEVEN. Bigsby himself had 36 yards in the first quarter and just eight more after that.
After getting injured against Missouri, it appears as if redshirt freshman quarterback Robby Ashford will be available for his second-ever start against the Bayou Bengals. Once again the onus falls on the offensive line to give Ashford some time on his dropbacks. Too often against Mizzou, Ashford quickly tucked and ran the ball on obvious passing downs. Missouri notched five sacks and 12 tackles for a loss. Imagine what LSU’s lightning-fast defense will do to Ashford and his teammates.
Lastly, sure Bryan Harsin might be on his last thread as Auburn’s head coach, but he and his staff must figure out ways to make better halftime adjustments. In their two games against Power 5 teams, the Tigers have scored six points in 60 minutes. Do they have the coaching ability to make changes and *win* a second half?
I’m not gonna mince words on this one, LSU is the better team and the visiting Tigers are gonna show it here. Some Auburn higher-ups are hoping their Tigers lose so they can make a coaching change. LSU isn't to that point yet – although give it a few weeks, that could change.
LSU just comes into this game with much more confidence (okay, and a much better defense). I know it’s probably blasphemy when it comes to these two, but this will be one of those rare blowouts in the series.
Prediction: LSU 28, Auburn 10
Podcast: Week 5 Preview, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.
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