LSU vs. Auburn: Why Showdown Will Be Closer Than Most Think
When this game first appeared on the schedule, many thought it had the looks of a competitive matchup. Auburn seemed to be moving in the right direction, and LSU was still a national championship contender. Simply put let the two SEC powerhouses battle it out during Week 4.
Instead, Auburn is 1-2. They are painfully brutal to watch on the defensive side of the ball. They can't get any type of production from the quarterback and can't even pretend to be competitive so far this year.
The spread on this SEC clash is on the verge of making LSU a three-touchdown favorite over the home team (via Covers.com). And while many like LSU to roll easily in this game, Auburn may have a chance to keep things entertaining and closer than you expect.
Here are five reasons why Gene Chizik's club can make an interesting game out of the LSU matchup this weekend.
History Says so
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There are a lot of great rivalries in college football, and usually those games result in a close outcome, regardless of how each team is performing that year.
When LSU and Auburn meet, it will be the 45th meeting between these two teams, and 14 of the last 24 matchups have been decided by a touchdown or less. That includes a 2002 upset, when LSU was ranked 10th in the country, and Auburn ended up winning by a score of 31-7.
There are games that just end up staying close, regardless of how teams stack up on paper. Looking at the roster and the first few games of the season, LSU should end up winning this game fairly easily, but it is hard to argue with history.
Defensive Line Should Generate Pressure
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One of the main ways this Auburn team can pull off an upset or keep things close is to get pressure on quarterback Zach Mettenberger and create plays in the backfield. Now LSU does have one of the more talented offensive lines in the country, but that unit has been banged up early on.
Left tackle Chris Faulk has already been ruled out for the remainder of the season while starting center P.J. Lonergan missed last week with a strained back. This squad has been playing musical chairs with each position, which may work against teams such as North Texas and Idaho, but Auburn has a solid defensive line.
The Tigers have already racked up 19 quarterback hurries and seven sacks, and they do have one of the best defensive players in the entire country in Corey Lemonier.
This will be the first true test for this hobbled offensive line, and if they can't handle the pressure up front, it will not only slow down the running game, especially without LSU's leading rusher in Alfred Blue, but it could also force a few mistakes by a first-year starting quarterback.
Kiehl Frazier Should Be More Confident
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Starting quarterback Kiehl Frazier hasn't exactly gone the way Auburn fans had expected. He has yet to be a threat running the football. He looks lost out on the football field, and he is only completing 50 percent of his passes, notwithstanding, his five interceptions to only two touchdowns.
But with that said, he has to enter this game with some type of confidence.
The Tigers were able to get off the snide with a thrilling victory over Louisiana-Monroe last week. And while the game wasn't as pretty as Auburn fans would have liked, a victory is a victory. It will do wonders for the young kid’s confidence and does give him something to smile about heading into this week. A confident quarterback is a better quarterback.
Also, Frazier didn't play bad at all, throwing a 33-yard passing touchdown to Sammie Coates to end the first half and even playing receiver, as he caught a 33-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
In order for Auburn to have any chance in this game, Frazier will have to do a great job of managing the game and limiting the mistakes. With a little bit of confidence flowing through his veins, that task should become a little bit easier.
Matchup Played in Jordan-Hare Stadium
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Momentum in college football is so huge, and there is nothing better than having the home crowd on your side to give you just that.
It doesn't matter what the stats say or how Auburn has looked the last couple of weeks, playing on the road against SEC teams is never an easy task It doesn't matter which team we are talking about.
Auburn is a combined 21-3 since 2009 when they are the home team. And although LSU has won four of the last five meetings against Auburn, the Tigers are 5-1 against LSU in the last meetings played at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
It is the same reason many gave West Virginia a shot last season to upset LSU. It is the same reason Les Miles and company can't afford to look over this game. Playing on the road is never easy, especially against SEC teams.
Auburn Needs a Big Victory
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Let's be honest, this isn't the type of season that anybody expected from Auburn when they returned the majority of last year’s club that won eight games. Remaining mostly uncompetitive against Clemson as well as Mississippi State and barely squeaking by Louisiana-Monroe were not the plan heading into the 2012 year.
Of course, Auburn is not putting themselves in the national championship conversation this season, but a respectable ball club is expected this season. Now due to such a horrible start, the talks about letting head coach Gene Chizik go have begun.
While that is a conversation to have later, Chizik is only 1-3 against top 5 teams at Auburn and isn't exactly looking sharp to begin the year. LSU needs this game to remain in the national championship conversation, and Auburn needs this game to keep some of the heat off their head coach and keep things running smoothly.
The more desperate team is the scarier team.