Published September 18, 2012 - 10:05am
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The Matchup: #2 LSU at Auburn
When: Saturday, September 22nd
Where: Auburn, Alabama
Game Time: 7:00 PM ET
What you need to know about LSU: The Tigers are 3-0, but they are virtually untested. North Texas, Washington and Idaho are the baby seals the Tigers have clubbed over the last few weeks. They’ve outscored their opponents 145-31. Are the Tigers worthy of their #2 ranking? We’re going to find out…but likely not this week.
The Tigers are running the football just like they did last season, leading the SEC in rushing offense (269.3 ypg) and scoring offense (48.3 ypg). Kenny Hillard and Alfred Blue are leading the team in rushing and have combined for 77 carries for 573 yards and eight touchdowns. However, Blue injured his knee in last week’s game and will be unavailable. Expect Michael Ford and Spencer Ware to get more carries, with Hilliard leading the way.
New quarterback Zach Mettenberger has made this offense balanced, completing 72.7 percent of his passes for 609 yards and four touchdowns so far. The receivers have had some big drops through the first three weeks. Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry have combined for 23 catches for 280 yards and one touchdown. Kadron Boone has caught three touchdowns. Mett has multiple weapons at running back and receiver to make this team dangerous.
LSU is #1 in the SEC in total defense, allowing a mere 205 yards per game. We knew they could replace the Honey Badger on defense, and Jalen Mills has done a very nice job of doing just that. They have depth at every position, and the defensive line has lived up to the hype thus far, pressuring the quarterback even though the sack numbers are down. Teams are getting rid of the ball before the pass rush can sack the quarterback, and their reputation proceeds them and alters game plans.
What you need to know about Auburn: Sitting 1-2 on the season, and 0-1 in conference play, Auburn has struggled just playing football. The offense has a long way to go, and the defense needs much better tackling.
Kiehl Frazier looks lost at times leading the offense, and really the best offense from the Tigers has been the power running game, with Jay Prosch at fullback and Onterio McCalebb or Tre Mason at running back. The passing offense is last in the SEC at 160.7 yards per game. And it’s worse than John Brantley bad. Frazier has to play looser and less tentatively, and he just can’t be a game manager.
Scot Loeffler needs to work in more of a spread-based offense for Frazier. Let’s call him what he is – a spread-offense quarterback. Loeffler puts him in too much pocket passing situations. He’s at his best and most comfortable when he rolls out of the pocket and finds his receivers.
The defense hasn’t fared much better. This group is 13th in the conference in total defense, allowing 442 yards per game. The rushing defense has been particularly destroyed, and this group is allowing 217 yards per game on the ground. That won’t cut it.
What you need to watch: LSU will come in and try to run the football down Auburn’s throat, and for good reason, because AU is the worst in the league. LSU is averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground, and Auburn is giving up over 200 yards per game. The biggest key will be whether Auburn has any ability at all to stop the LSU ground game. We all know Les Miles, and as soon as he gets a lead on you, he pounds you into submission.
This will be Zach Mettenberger’s first road start and SEC start. He will have some jitters, but I really want to see what this kid is made of. I think he is the single key to the team’s ability to beat Alabama. I want to see him play against an SEC defense, even if it is Auburn.
Auburn will try and provide an upset special on The Plains Saturday night. The visitor of this game is 1-11 since 2000, with three straight losses.