LSU vs. Auburn: How Auburn Can Shock the World and Pull off the Upset
The 2012 season has not been a kind one to the Auburn Tigers.
Not only did they lose to Clemson in the season opener, but they dropped a divisional conference game against Mississippi State in Week 2. That's an 0-2 start to the season, folks.
But after beating a UL-Monroe team that beat Arkansas, can Auburn pull off the unimaginable? Can it defeat one of the best teams in the country in LSU?
Simply put, Auburn's not ready to beat LSU or Alabama this season. It's just not there yet. But we've seen crazier upsets in college football.
In order for Auburn to pull this off, this is what it must do perfectly.
Must Get Pressure on Mettenberger
LSU's going to run the football successfully. Get used to it.
But it's never been known for its passing game. In fact, this game happens to be Zach Mettenberger's first SEC start. Hello, opportunity. Though he may be skilled, Mettenberger is still relatively inexperienced. Can Auburn take advantage?
Corey Lemonier will get most of the attention from LSU's blocking schemes come Saturday, so other defensive players are going to have to make plays.
In the Tigers' opening game against North Texas, Mettenberger showed a certain lack of awareness when he held onto the ball too long in a three-step drop and was drilled by a defender. The hit knocked him out of the game for a few series, and in his second outing against Washington, he improved dramatically.
In order for Auburn to pull off this miraculous upset (and yes it would take a miracle), Auburn has to get in Mettenberger's face early and disrupt him from getting into any kind of flow.
Force Turnovers/Minimize Mistakes
This one's a no-brainer.
Against LSU last season, Auburn turned the ball over twice without forcing a turnover of its own. That can't happen this season.
First and foremost, Auburn must take good care of the football. LSU doesn't need any help. Once it maintains ball security on offense, this defense has to go to work on Mettenberger and the Tigers.
If they can get pressure on him by mixing up blitzes and confusing LSU's offensive line, they may be able to force Mettenberger to make a few mistakes down the field.
Mettenberger isn't afraid to take shots and throw balls into tight coverage, so Auburn has to capitalize at the right moments.
Win the Special Teams Battle
Winning the special teams battle against LSU is much easier said than done.
From Brad Wing punting to LSU's kick coverage teams, the Tigers may very well have the best special teams in college football. But hey, Auburn fans already know how good that kick coverage team is.
Onterio McCalebb took one to house against Mississippi State in Week 2, and another kickoff return for a touchdown would be received with welcome arms this Saturday.
Games can be won and lost on special teams, and Auburn has to make sure it doesn't lose the game with fumbles on kickoffs or blown assignments.
Aggressive Play Calling
You want to beat the best? Get after 'em.
Auburn can't afford sitting back and waiting on the game to come to it. Chizik and his coaching staff have to go out and take it.
That means this offense can't run it on first down, then run it on second down and expect Frazier to convert a third-and-long. Not going to happen against this defense.
Rather, Auburn has to throw on first down, move Frazier from the pocket and try to create some down-the-field, momentum altering plays.
It might mean faking a punt or a field goal in the game as well.
A Game of a Lifetime for Frazier
You can lead a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink.
Gene Chizik and his staff can put Kiehl Frazier in a position to succeed, but only Frazier can make this happen.
Frazier has to go bonkers on this LSU defense. Auburn is, and always will be, a run-first team, but it's going to be difficult running against LSU's rotating defensive line. Those guys are strong, athletic and aggressive.
So you can expect some key third downs where Frazier has to make a play. This is the ball game for Auburn.
If Frazier is unable to convert third downs and Auburn consistently turns the ball back over to LSU, it will be a long night in Jordan-Hare Stadium.