A Playoff Atmosphere!
Auburn must survive the best quarterback in the nation this week!
(Photo: Scott Wachter, USA TODAY Sports)
War Eagle, everybody! This week, the Auburn Tigers will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a big game against the LSU Tigers. LSU comes into this game undefeated is are looking for its first SEC West title in 9 years. After the game against Auburn, LSU has a bye week. The Tigers will then close out the regular season with a trip to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama, followed by a trip to Ole Miss, and home dates against Arkansas and Texas A&M. LSU has compiled a record of 7–0 thus far, and only the game at Austin, Texas was won by less than 14 points.
Realistically, Auburn has to win this game to keep its division championship hopes alive. The good thing is that Auburn still controls its own destiny. If Auburn wins out, it will be the West champions. If Auburn loses, it will be the second SEC loss. The Western Division champion has not had 2 or more SEC losses since 2007 when LSU did it. If Auburn loses to LSU, it will need LSU to lose 3 SEC games against the schedule above.
When Auburn has the ball, it must be wary of an LSU secondary full of future NFL talent. Auburn cannot commit turnovers and expect to win this ball game. Auburn’s best bet is to attack on early downs through the air and also establish a running game. LSU has been vulnerable on defense this season, allowing 38 points against Texas and Vanderbilt and 28 against Florida.
The LSU offense is different from any we have ever seen on the Bayou. This offense is predicated on getting the ball in space to a variety of playmakers. LSU likes to get the ball out quickly and relies on missed assignments and tackles to turn dump-off passes into big gains. LSU’s Joe Burrow is completing an unheard of 79.4 percent of his passes for 11.4 yards per pass. By comparison, Auburn’s Bo Nix is completing 56.2 percent for 7.7 yards per pass.
Defensively, Auburn has to control the LSU running game and continue to disrupt the pocket and harass the quarterback. LSU has an amazingly deep receiving corps with 7 players with double-figure catches. Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall have 20 or more catches, and all 3 guys are averaging 15.2 yards per catch or more. I don’t believe the Auburn back end on defense can survive like it has been playing the last few weeks. If Auburn runs press-man coverage every down, Joe Burrow will see that and throw easy man-beaters. We can’t have linebackers trying to cover LSU receivers. We can’t give up the easy quick slants and dumps over the middle. Auburn must mix up man and zone coverage and not tip the alignment before the snap. Auburn must make Joe Burrow read the defense while the pocket collapses around him. Most importantly, the Auburn secondary must continue to tackle well.
Today and tonight, Louisiana (and most of the southeast) is dealing with heavy rain due to the combination of a frontal system and a tropical depression. It will be mostly cloudy at kickoff Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge, but the rain most likely will have ended by late morning. Those attending the game can expect comfortable temperatures in the mid-60’s. We will have our usual Trackemtigers.com Open Thread up and running for this one, and I will be at the keyboard, for the play by play. This game will kick off a little after 2:30 PM, Central Daylight Time, and will be nationally televised on CBS.
A look at other SEC games this weekend after the jump!
The early action this week at 11:00 AM begins with Mississippi State visiting Texas A&M. Both teams are fighting for bowl eligibility. I will take the home team with the better quarterback situation. Mississippi State really appears to be reeling at this point in the season.
The next game to kick off will be the Auburn at LSU battle at 2:30 PM. We’ll be glued to that game, to be sure.
South Carolina visits Tennessee at 3:00 PM. On paper, South Carolina should win this game, but Tennessee has been fighting tough the past few weeks. Both teams have had surprising wins and abysmal losses this season.
Arkansas visits Alabama at 6:00 PM for a game that should be the most lopsided in the SEC this week. I expect at home that Alabama will expand the offense with its backup quarterback Mac Jones and should be able to name the score.
Missouri visits Kentucky at 6:30 PM. Before last week, it would have been easy to predict a solid Missouri win. That was before the Tigers face planted against Vanderbilt. Kentucky at 3–4 is fighting for bowl eligibility. I suspect Missouri will get its act back together and win this game, but Kentucky won’t be dead, yet. The Wildcat’s remaining schedule is Tennessee, at Vanderbilt, UT Martin and Louisville. Winning 3 of 4 against that cupcake slate is certainly possible.
Teams taking the weekend off are Vanderbilt, Georgia, Florida, and Ole Miss. That means Auburn gets a rested Ole Miss team at Jordan-Hare next weekend while coming off a tough October with no home games. No rest for the weary!