Auburn Football: What Tigers Must Do to Put LSU on Upset Alert

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2012

STARKVILLE, MS - SEPTEMBER 08:  Quarterback Kiehl Frazier #10 of the Auburn Tigers looks for a receiver in the first quarter of a NCAA college football game against Mississippi State Bulldogs on September 8, 2012 at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
Butch Dill/Getty Images

Auburn will enter Saturday's game against LSU as a heavy underdog. As college football fans have been reminded already this season, however, they play the game for a reason. There have been several high-profile upsets in the first three weeks.

The Tigers face an uphill battle to join the list of teams that have pulled them off, but there's always a chance, especially in the SEC. Let's take a look at a few keys to success if Auburn wants to put a scare into the nation's No. 2 team.


Ground Game

Auburn has two running backs capable of giving problems to the vaunted LSU defense. Senior Onterio McCalebb is averaging nearly seven yards per carry, and talented sophomore Tre Mason has lived up to the hype.

In order to stop this game from turning into a blowout, the Tigers have to establish the running game early. Even if they struggle to gain traction against the LSU defensive line, they can't abandon the run early and expect to stay within striking distance.

The more clock they are able to burn on offense, the less time LSU will have to expose their weaknesses on defense. Controlling the pace is crucial.


Avoid Turnovers

LSU is an elite team with a terrific opportunity to play for a national championship at season's end. In other words, it doesn't need any help winning games. Auburn, mostly notably quarterback Kiehl Frazier, has to protect the ball.

Frazier has five interceptions through three games with at least one in every contest. It's one of the main reasons Auburn currently sits at 1-2 instead of 2-1 or 3-0. If he doesn't start making better decisions, the team's struggles will continue.

The Tigers have a narrow path to victory before the game even starts. Every time they turn the ball over and give LSU good field position, the chance of an upset gets even smaller.


Early-Down Defense

Auburn needs to force LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger to win the game. That means slowing down the running game on first and second down to make Mettenberger convert on several 3rd-and-long plays to move the chains.

Like Auburn, LSU has a couple different players in the backfield capable of making big plays led by Kenny Hilliard, who already had six touchdowns. If the Tigers allow him to run wild, they will be doomed from the start.

Mettenberger is still getting his feet wet as a starter, and this is his biggest challenge yet. If Auburn can put pressure on him, the Tigers will at least give themselves a chance.