The Tigers are about to battle as Auburn hosts LSU on Saturday. It will be a long day for the home fans, though, as LSU (3-0) is prepared to improve on their dominating 45-10 home win from last season.
Auburn (1-2) is struggling through a tough rebuild that started when they lost roughly 40 percent of their roster, including Cam Newton and Nick Fairley to the NFL, after the 2010 season.
Matters got worse after last season as both of Auburn's coordinators left the program.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was hired by Arkansas State to be their new head coach, and Ted Roof made a lateral move to Central Florida. The team is definitely facing transition issue as their young players attempt to get up to speed in new systems.
Auburn has a first-year starter at quarterback in Kiehl Frazier. He needs time to adjust but is being counted on to produce most of Auburn's offense.
Frazier hasn't been impressive throwing the ball yet and hadn't received much help from his running backs until their overtime win of UL-Monroe. Michael Dyer left the university instead of facing his suspension, and the Tigers haven't found an adequate replacement.
Auburn's fortunes could turn as early as next season, as I discussed in an earlier article.
Les Miles has his Tigers headed in a different direction. They own an NCAA-best 16-game regular season winning streak and are simply dominant on defense.
LSU's biggest contest this season was hosting the Washington Huskies, who hoped to build from their offensive-fueled 67-56 loss to Baylor in the 2011 Alamo Bowl. LSU dominated every part of the game, posting a 41-3 win.
The biggest concern for LSU entering the matchup is they will be without RB Alfred Blue, who is out with a knee injury.
Their backups played well last week, as Kenny Hilliard ran for 116 yards with Jeremy Hill pitching in an additional 61. They each ran for a pair of touchdowns.
The backs appreciate the committee approach as shared by Hilliard said via an ESPN.com article.
We keep fresh legs in the game at all times. Whenever one guy gets tired you can put a fresh guy in and you don't lose anything. That is great.
We have multiple backs that can all play well so that means that one guy is not going to have to get 30-40 carries in a game.
LSU's depth and experience will be the difference in this game. Auburn has had a pair of very solid rookie classes but they can't expect to compete with a program like LSU relying on underclassmen. The team from the bayou has the depth and experience to rotate players and wear Auburn down.
This game may not be over by halftime, but Auburn fans shouldn't expect it to be close.
LSU will be out to make a statement that they are one of the elite teams in the SEC and Auburn is a few years away from being on the same field of play.