A Serious Challenge Ahead
The Bayou Bengals took Auburn to the wire on their last visit
(Photo by Acid Reign)
War Eagle, everybody! Auburn opens its SEC schedule with a bang this week, hosting the LSU Tigers. I don’t think a lot of folks gave LSU much chance in the SEC Western Division title race this year before play actually started. The LSU Tigers come into this game with a 2–0 record after opening the season with a couple of blowout wins over Miami and Southeastern Louisiana. Aside from Auburn’s victory over then-6th-ranked Washington, LSU owns the second-most impressive SEC nonconference win thus far after mashing the favored Hurricanes.
The winner of this game has a leg up on the SEC race. The loser will have to do some scrambling. It’s not impossible to lose to LSU and still win the division. Auburn did exactly that in 2013 and went on and played for a national title. Auburn lost the infamous “earthquake game” to LSU in 1988, 7–6, but went on to win a share of the SEC Title. On the flip side of this equation, LSU was the SEC Western Division co-champion in 2002 after getting its clock cleaned in Auburn, 31–7. Of course that year, both LSU and Auburn were beaten by co-champion Arkansas, which headed to the SEC Title Game in Atlanta and got dismantled 31–3 by Georgia.
This week’s game will kick off at 2:30 PM Central Time, and it is the SEC game of the week. It will be broadcast nationally by CBS. Fans attending this one should pack the sunblock and expect some heat. It will be around 90 degrees at kickoff, finishing in the early evening in the low 80s. A first quarter afternoon moon should be visible over Jordan Hare Stadium. We’ll have our usual trackemtigers.com open thread up and running, and I’ll have the play by play in our live blog.
My thoughts on this one are that LSU will have real trouble bringing a sub-50-percent passer into Jordan Hare Stadium for his first SEC road game. As long as Auburn doesn’t play turnover-fest ball, I think Auburn comes out on top in this one.
I’ve read various sportswriters opining that the “SEC schedule is getting into full swing this week!” Glancing at the schedule, no, not so much. This is very much another cupcake week, overall.
Our SEC early slate is Murray State at Kentucky and North Texas at Tennessee. I can’t imagine either SEC team losing those games even if they have a let-down week.
Vanderbilt kicks off at Notre Dame at 1:30 PM. This used to be when virtually every Auburn game kicked off! Some folks have Vandy as a dark horse in this game. I just don’t see it. Notre Dame just THROTTLED Michigan a couple of weeks ago and made its quarterback Shea Patterson look inept. Vanderbilt’s shaky offense will have problems, I think.
Of course we have the LSU/Auburn tilt at 2:30 PM. Most SEC pundits these days are arguing whether Auburn or Mississippi State is number 2 in the SEC West. LSU would love to punch some folks’ tickets this week.
We have a couple of 3:00 PM kickoffs. Colorado State, fresh off its come-from-behind win over Arkansas, will visit Florida. Which teams will show up for this one? Florida looked bad, losing to Kentucky. CSU looked bad, going 0-2 in both opening games, before rallying to deck Arkansas last week.
Arkansas hosts the North Texas Mean Green. This isn’t Mike Price’s team any more. A lot of folks think that North Texas will challenge for the Conference USA title this year. After what we saw last week, Arkansas had better look out.
In the 6:00 PM slate, a number of games kick off, but most are just more lower-division blowout fodder. Alabama visits Ole Miss, and that will be the only other actual SEC vs. SEC game this week. I like Ole Miss’ chances to score maybe a few points in this game. Seeing as how its defense got shredded and gave up 41 points to Southern Illinois last weekend, I’m not sure it can slow Alabama’s potent offense down.
In other action at 6:00 PM, Mississippi State hosts Louisiana (formerly the SE Louisiana Raging Cajuns), Texas A&M hosts Louisiana Monroe, and Missouri visits Purdue. I don’t expect any of these evening games to be close.
In Hurricane Florence news, South Carolina has canceled its game with Marshall. That’s a shame. Columbia is in the path of the storm, but it should mostly be a rain event in that part of South Carolina. Hey, they could have moved it to Atlanta, or something! Instead, what South Carolina has done is to take a nonconference win off its record this year. Given that they play Clemson and usually lose most years, this puts them at risk of not making a bowl game.
On a related note, my hat is off to Coastal Carolina for playing its game against Campbell on Wednesday night. Kids got to play, and CC got another win on its record. Of course, their campus may be under water by this time tomorrow, but they got the win!