Dig Baton Rouge

Tiger vs. Tiger

LSU to battle Auburn in Tiger Stadium

When LSU plays Auburn, crazy things tend to happen.

Today’s installment will have a new wrinkle – the Louisiana Tigers are a decisive underdog, despite being at home.

LSU will take on Auburn in Death Valley today at 2:30 p.m. – a game that will go a long way in deciding the fate of each team for the remainder of the season.

Auburn is 5-1 and 3-0 in the SEC. They’ve rolled past opponents since losing to Clemson with high-powered offense and dominant defense.

For LSU, it’s been more of a grind. The Tigers struggled in non-conference play, but did beat Florida last week at the Swamp.

Coach Ed Orgeron said after a week of prep, LSU will be ready for a worthwhile foe.

“We know this will be a tough opponent,” Orgeron said. “We know that they start their games very fast. They have beat some SEC opponents very handily and we have a lot of respect for them. We’ll be ready to go.”

This will be a contrast in styles.

On one hand, there’s LSU, which is still learning the in’s and out’s of first-year coordinator Matt Canada’s scheme.

The Tigers were fairly efficient offensively last week in the Swamp, but still gained just 341 yards, scoring just 17 points.

Against Auburn, LSU will probably need more than that. The Alabama-born Tigers are as prolific as any team in the country.

Led by transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham and anchored by halfback Kerryon Johnson, the Plainsmen average 35.8 points and 452.7 yards per game offensively.

But LSU’s defense will be boosted heavily with the return of senior lineman Frank Herron, who was ineligible for the first six games of the season. The Tigers figure to have 11 available defensive linemen on Saturday after having just six or seven guys at times this season.

That should help LSU bottle up Auburn’s prolific running game.

“We have to gang tackle,” Orgeron said.

LSU’s Offense vs. Auburn’s Defense

Advantage: Auburn

It is what it is. Auburn’s defense is mean and physical – an attacking 4-3 alignment that puts a lot of pressure on opposing teams. I’d like to see something more out of Matt Canada and the Tigers’ offense. But with possibly three true freshmen in the lineup, I don’t know how LSU will be able to consistently block Auburn, which is going to heavily limit play calling and will make LSU’s scheme awfully one-dimensional.

LSU’s Defense vs. Auburn’s Offense

Advantage: LSU

OK, I am going with my heart and not my head on this one. LSU’s defense is young and they do not have a lot of depth. But I do see a unit that is starting to slowly get better as the season goes on. Auburn is going to play with tempo and they’re going to try and break down LSU at the line of scrimmage. But on the road, that’s not going to be an easy task. I think we’re going to see a spirited effort from the LSU defense and I favor them to find a way to stop Auburn enough times to keep this game close until the end.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Advantage: Auburn

If I’ve said this once, I’ve said this a million times. It doesn’t matter who LSU plays, I’m picking the opponent to have a better special teams unit. You name a facet of that unit and the Tigers have done it poorly this season. Not hiring a special teams coordinator was one of the biggest single mistakes that coach Ed Orgeron could have possibly made. And it shows on Saturday’s during games.

DIG’s PICK

Auburn 20, LSU 13

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