After beginning this 2012 college football season with three straight commanding victories, LSU will hit the road for the first time this year in a SEC opener against Auburn at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
While Les Miles' LSU team has been as close to perfect as one can get thus far, Auburn has been anything but that.
Gene Chizik's team is 1-2 and facing a must-win situation to stay relevant in the SEC race. To be saying that this early on in the season lets you know just how big this game is for Auburn.
LSU is certainly the favorite, but on the road in an SEC opener, anything can happen.
Let's go ahead and point out five keys to this game vs. Auburn.
Bleacher Report Style!
Everyone knows that LSU is a run-first football team.
If the Tigers plan to stomp all over this Auburn defense, they are going to have to establish what they do best, and that's running the football.
Alfred Blue is out this week with an injury, which means that Kenny Hilliard will be the lead back. After that, it's really anyone's guess who will step into that No. 2 role. It could be Michael Ford, could be Spencer Ware and could be Jeremy Hill, who had a breakout game last week against Idaho in his first action of the season.
But not only does LSU have to establish the run, they have to do it often.
This is Zach Mettenberger's first road start and first SEC start as an LSU Tiger. It is important that this team jumps out to an early lead and gives their first-year starter a cushion. This dominant rushing attack is Mettenberger's best friend right now.
If LSU can establish the run early and often, then LSU should role in this one.
This photo says it all right here.
This is a photo of that dominant LSU defense forcing a fumble from Auburn running back Tre Mason.
If Les Miles' team can do more of that this weekend, then they should be able to control this game from start to finish.
Mason and Onterio McCalebb are the two threats on this Auburn offense. Mason is the steady back that is the workhorse for this offense, while McCalebb is the home run threat and one of the most shifty, athletic backs in the nation.
If LSU can shut these two down and hold the Auburn to under 100 yards rushing, then you have to like their chances in this one.
No doubt about it.
This is Zach Mettenberger's first SEC start of his career.
This is also Zach Mettenberger's first road start in an LSU uniform.
And last, but not lease, this is Zach Mettenberger's first true test of his young college career at LSU.
The point here is that LSU needs to simplify the game plan early on in this game in order to give Mettenberger some confidence. Set up short, high-percentage throws for him early on and then let him sling it once he gets loose and a little confidence built up.
We have seen how good this kid can be early on this season, but now LSU fans should get a taste about how he handles pressure in his first meaningful SEC road start of his career.
It is important for LSU to bring him along the right way, and if they do so, this should result in a W and a 4-0 start for Les Miles' LSU football team.
Kiehl Frazier dosen't do well under pressure.
Really, it's as simple as that.
In Week 1, Clemson brought a ton of pressure with their defensive ends and linebackers, and here were Frazier's final numbers in that game: 11-of-27 (40 percent) for 194 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Not exactly All-American caliber numbers from Auburn's starting signal-caller.
In fact, Frazier has yet to complete more than 13 passes and throw for more than 200 yards in any game this season.
That stat right there should let you know that if LSU gets after this guy, it should be a long day for Kiehl Frazier and the Auburn Tigers.
In case you haven't heard, SEC home crowd are loud, they are mean and did I mention that they are loud.
It will be important for LSU to jump out to an early lead on Auburn and silence this crowd early on.
If Auburn has nothing to cheer about, this crowd should remain calm, and an early LSU lead will take the team and the fans out of the game.
Remember, this is LSU's first road game of the 2012 college football season, so anything goes. But if they can get the crowd out of the game early, then you have to like LSU's chances in this early SEC showdown.