1. Don’t overlook LSU. It’s accessible after that heartbreaking, last-second game loss to Florida State off that missed kick. And while it’s easy to shake off LSU’s big wins against overmatched teams, it also pulled out an impressive 13-point comeback against Mississippi State, holding that great offense to under 300 yards, forcing two turnovers, and racking up 21 unanswered points to put it away in a crucial early SEC West win. Not to mention a tremendous 2nd half showing in that first game that put LSU in a position to beat Florida State if not for that special team’s blunder. If not for 1 point, LSU might be a ranked team.
2. Auburn’s offense: is not significant. The quarterback and offensive line have not synced well together so far, and even Auburn’s once-promising run game has struggled. Auburn is 109th in FBS with 17.7 points per game, 99th in yards per play, 114th with .320 success on third down, and 92nd in first downs gained total. Together, AU’s quarterbacks have 2 TDs and 6 INTs. The offense scored more than 25 once, against an FCS team, had nothing against Penn State, and only beat Missouri on a missed kick and a weird fumble near the goal line.
3. At the line. Watch how well Auburn can clog the primary running lines defensively. And come off the edge against the pocket, racking up 47 quarterback pressures so far. That skill set threatens LSU running the ball, which it’s done well, ranking 28th nationally at just under 200 yards per game and going over 200 in the last 3 games. Quarterback Jayden Daniels leads the team running the ball, but Armoni Goodwin and Noah Cain have 9 of LSU’s 13 running scores and have to move the chains early to set the terms at the line early. Find more sports news, plus coverage from Sports Illustrated.
LSU VS. AUBURN: FAST FACTS + LSU has won 9 straight when scoring 30 points + Home team has won 18 of last 22 in this series + LSU has thrown a TD pass in 46 straight games + Auburn hasn’t had a punt blocked in 170 straight games, the FBS lead + LSU is 16th nationally allowing 14.25 points per game + Auburn is 5-2 under Bryan Harsin when leading at halftime and 3-4 when not + LSU has thrown to 15 different receivers, 3rd most in SEC + Auburn is 1-3 when rushing for less than 100 yards under Harsin and 15-5 when over 100 + LSU is 4th in SEC with 198.8 rushing yards per game + Auburn is 3-1 under Harsin when winning the turnover battle and 3-4 when losing it + LSU is 9th nationally in red zone defense, allowing opponents to score on 5 of only 8 possessions (.625) + Auburn is 25-1 since 2013 when scoring a non-offensive TD + LSU is 11th nationally in first down defense + Auburn has allowed 25 first qtr TDs in its last 70 games + LSU is 8th in the country with 146.5 passing yards allowed per game + Auburn is 1-5 under Harsin scoring fewer than 20 pts and 17-3 when scoring more than 20 + LSU is 16th nationally in scoring defense (14.2 ppg)
AUBURN VS. LSU PREDICTION Looking over Auburn’s situational records under Harsin, things become pretty clear: run for over 100 yards and score over 20 points, and they usually win. Struggling in protection and playing out of sorts at quarterback doesn’t help put points on the board, and neither will LSU’s moderately improved defensive performance, but Tank Bigsby can undoubtedly help out. The gifted back wasn’t featured prominently in the Missouri game, finishing with just 44 yards and a 2.3 ypc average with a score, leading to criticism of Harsin’s in-game strategy of exploiting that ability. But if he can test LSU’s interior lanes early, this game should be closer than anticipated. Otherwise, Jayden Daniels, a group of talented deep threats, and LSU’s burgeoning backfield should carry the day, giving Brian Kelly a precious second win in the SEC West and pushing Bryan Harsin one step closer to the unemployment line.
ODDS, POINT SPREAD, BETTING LINES Line:
LSU -8.5 O/U: 45.5 Moneyline: LSU -376 AUB +250 FPI pick: LSU 78.9%
HOW TO WATCH
When: Sat., Oct. 1
Time: 7 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN network