LSU vs. Auburn: Biggest Questions Facing Les Miles After Near-Upset

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 08: Les Miles, head coach of the LSU Tigers discusses a call with an official during a game against the Washington Huskies at Tiger Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. LSU would win the game 41-3. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Les Miles and the LSU Tigers were put on upset alert on Saturday night by the Tigers of Auburn as the Bayou Bengals were just able to stave off their SEC rivals 12-10. With that close call behind them, LSU must find a way to answer the questions that remain after nearly ruining their bid for a perfect season.

LSU gets an easy win next week when they welcome the Towson Tigers to Death Valley and should have no issues blowing out an FCS foe. However, it will find the schedule much more difficult to navigate from then on as big games against Florida, South Carolina and Alabama await LSU.

The Tigers are still one considered as one of the few teams with a legitimate chance at the National Championship, but they'll need to answer these questions as the season wears on after getting tested late into the game by Auburn.


Can They Win on the Road?

We all know that LSU is dominant at home.

The Tigers have a 20-game winning streak at the friendly confines of Tiger stadium and possess one of the greatest home field advantages in all of college football.

LSU's chances of getting upset are low, and fortunately they will see two of their toughest challenges at home when they play South Carolina and Alabama. However, the Tigers will need to show they are capable of playing well on the road in tricky matchups against a ranked Florida team and an Arkansas team that should be much improved with a healthy Tyler Wilson at quarterback.

After a rough game against a fledgling Auburn squad, they'll need to re-establish road dominance in the swamp and that's no easy task.


Is Zach Mettenberger Up to the Task?

It always seems as though the Tigers are one great quarterback away from having an elite offense to pair with their dominant defense.

The LSU faithful seemed to believe that Mettenberger was the quarterback who could take the LSU offense to the next level, but after a lackluster performance on the road against Auburn, questions still plague the LSU passing game.

Mettenberger went 15-of-27 for 169 yards in the game against the Auburn and while he didn't really look horrible, he didn't make the big plays in the passing game that could have put the game away for LSU. Against a defense that was carved up through the air by UL-Monroe and Clemson earlier this season, Mettenberger wasn't the playmaker that he should have been.


Can they Run the Table?

Yes this game was extremely close, but that doesn't mean that the LSU faithful should overreact, LSU is still one of the elite teams in the country. The Tigers will be favored in just about every contest they are in and they simply had an off night on the road against a deceivingly good team.

That being said, it's hard not to take a close-call like this seriously as the Tigers blew through their regular season schedule in 2011. Outside of a three-point overtime game against the eventual National Champion Crimson Tide, LSU's closest games were 13-point victories over the Oregon Ducks and the Mississippi Bulldogs, both of those teams were ranked at the time.

A close game against a team with a losing record is not something we've seen a lot of in the Les Miles era so it'll be on the Tigers to show that this was an aberration and not a bad omen for the rest of the season.