LSU vs. Auburn: 3 Players Looking to Prove Themselves

Derek PiperCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Eric Reid #1 of the LSU Tigers carries an American Flag onto the field before playing the Idaho Vandals  at Tiger Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LSU and Auburn will square off in a pivotal SEC matchup at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night.

It will be the "Battle of the Tigers"—though one group has proven to be more fierce than the other this season.

No. 2 LSU has picked up where they left off last season, winning their first three games by a combined score of 145-31.

Auburn, on the other hand, has struggled out of the gate, registering their first win in a nail-biting overtime victory against Louisiana-Monroe last weekend.

Gene Chizik's squad is still trying to get over the "Cam Newton hangover," as they have posted a pedestrian 9-7 record since their Heisman Trophy winner's departure.

LSU is attempting to show that they remain atop of the national rankings, while Chizik is hoping his players will verify that he is still the right man for the job.

Here are the players with the most to prove in this contest.


Kiehl Frazier (Auburn, QB)

Frazier has yet to impress Auburn fans with his play this season.

The sophomore quarterback has been inconsistent through the first three weeks, throwing two touchdowns and five interceptions. Frazier's performance was costly in the Tigers' loss against Mississippi State in Week 2 as he threw three interceptions with no touchdowns.

Things won't get any easier for Frazier on Saturday. The LSU defense ranks fourth in the country, allowing 205 yards per game. Les Miles' defense is without Tyrann Mathieu, who was the nation's best ball hawk last season, but their ability to frustrate opposing quarterbacks has not faltered.

LSU has totaled six interceptions this season, tied for fifth in the NCAA.

Drastic improvement from Frazier may have to be put on hold for another week, but the struggling quarterback will need to show he deserves to remain the starter.


Spencer Ware (LSU, RB)

With the injury to Alfred Blue, who may be sidelined for up to six weeks (according to, Ware will get a chance to prove he is worthy of the workload in his teammate's absence.

Ware has battled his own injury problems this season, including a deep thigh bruise, and the junior has only received eight carries. Ware's emergence last season was crucial to the Tigers' success—running for more than 700 yards and eight touchdowns on a team-high 177 carries.

However, past success means very little to what may be LSU's deepest position. Sophomore running back Kenny Hillard has made the most of his opportunities this season, leading the team with more than 300 yards rushing on 37 attempts. Hillard has been the definition of consistency, posting two touchdowns in each of the Tigers' three games.

Freshman Jeremy Hill has also showcased his skill set, rushing for 61 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries last week.

On talent alone, Ware deserves to get around 10 carries per game. However, it's all about production, and Ware will need to produce when given an opportunity against an Auburn defense that has given up more than 215 rushing yards per game this season.


Onterio McCalebb (Auburn, RB)

McCalebb is a big play waiting to happen for Chizik's squad, and they will need a few of them to have any chance at knocking off the No. 2 team in the country.

The senior running back can change the game when the ball is in his hands—whether he is taking a handoff, catching a pass or returning a kick.

McCalebb has rushed for 214 yards and a touchdown on 31 attempts this season, including a 128-yard performance last week. However, McCalebb was ineffective on the ground against a stingy Mississippi State defense, totaling only four yards on eight carries.

Now, McCalebb will have to go up against LSU's vaunted front seven, which has only given up 47 rushing yards per game this season—fourth in the country.

For Auburn to have any hope, McCalebb will need to break through the first level and show off his stellar open-field speed. Good luck doing that against a defensive unit that has allowed less than 1.7 yards per carry this season, though.