It’s LSU Week, and It’s Going To Be A Battle
USA TODAY Sports
What a difference a month can be in football. Four weeks ago at this time Auburn had just lost an eight-point game to Clemson and followed that up with a lackluster homecoming performance against FCS foe Mercer. Fast forward to today, and the Tigers have climbed to a Top 10 ranking with a 5–1 record (3–0 in the SEC).
A month ago there was a lot of hand wringing amongst the fan base. Today there is a ray of optimism. And there should be optimism. For the first time since Pat Dye walked the sidelines, the Tigers are coming off three straight SEC games won by at least 20 points.
And in last Saturday’s blowout of Ole Miss, running back Kerryon Johnson had a career day, rushing for 204 yards and three touchdowns, while Jarrett Stidham was 14 of 21 for 235 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The offense now ranks 3rd in the SEC in total offense and 2nd in the league in scoring. The Tigers have beaten their three league opponents by a score of 144–47. And that opponent total would probably be 27 had all of the No. 1 defense remained in the Ole Miss game throughout the second half.
Still the Auburn D ranks in the Top 25 in just about every category. And it ranks 3rd in the league in that all important category—scoring defense.
Auburn seems to be gelling at the right time as it heads into a road schedule that will not see the Tigers back in the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium for five weeks. That means they will not play in front of the home fans till Georgia comes to town on November 11th.
Nevertheless, at the halfway point of the season all of Auburn’s preseason goals are still attainable. But make no mistake, the three-game road series is big. The outcome of it will determine if the Tigers remain in the championship hunt.
The first big challenge will come Saturday at LSU (4–2, 1–1 SEC). You can forget about the Corndog’s upset loss to Troy as they will be fighting hard to keep their eight game home winning streak going against Auburn. However, the Orange and Blue Tigers have won 2 of the last 3 meetings, including last year’s dramatic last second victory at home, a loss that still sticks in the craw of Bayou fans.
In that game Auburn led 18–13 with time running out when LSU quarterback Danny Etling found wide receiver D.J. Chark in the corner of the end zone for what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown as the clock ticked down to zero. The LSU bench erupted until the refs announced, “The previous play is under review.”
There were some tense moments until the ruling came that time had expired. Then Auburn’s bench erupted with the victory. It wasn’t the first time Les Miles had mismanaged a game clock, and the Mad Hatter was fired the next day—four games into the season.
So that sets up another big LSU week. And the players sense the urgency. Auburn H-back Chandler Cox expounded Sunday about how important the game will be, “It’s always different just because of the history we have,” said Cox. “You can tell it’s LSU week. It doesn’t matter how many losses they have or how many we have. We are all in this week …”
It’s going to be a battle.”