No. 6 LSU has risen six spots in the AP rankings in the first three weeks of the season, coming off wins over TCU, UAB and Kent State.
In the 45-13 victory over Kent State in Week 3, the Tigers posted 571 yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger tossed for 264 yards and three touchdowns, while junior running backs Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee combined for 225 yards and three scores on the ground.
After a miserable 2012 campaign, Auburn (3-0) has looked much better this season, knocking off Washington State, Arkansas State and Mississippi State through the first three weeks. Auburn already has as many wins as it did all of last season.
In the thrilling 24-20 victory over the Bulldogs, Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall tossed for 339 yards with two touchdowns to two interceptions.
Here's a look at the matchup on Saturday in Baton Rouge.
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com
When: Saturday, Sept. 21 at 7:45 p.m. ET
Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line (via Covers.com): LSU -17
Auburn Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: DT Jeffrey Whitaker (Knee), CB Jonathan Jones (Ankle)
Questionable: CB Chris Davis (Leg)
LSU Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: G Josh Williford (Concussion)
Questionable: S Craig Loston (Leg)
Top Storyline: The Evolution of Zach Mettenberger
Just last season, LSU's offensive attack depended primarily on the running game.
The play of Zach Mettenberger has allowed Les Miles to open up the playbook a bit this season, making LSU's offense more dangerous in the process.
The Tigers rank 12th in the nation in points per game. That includes ranking 43rd in passing yards per game and 38th in rushing yards per contest. Mettenberger has completed 65 percent of his passes for 797 yards and nine touchdowns in three games. He ranks third in the country in quarterback rating, fifth in yards per pass attempt and has yet to throw a pick.
Guard Trai Turner said this week, according to the Associated Press, per ESPN.com: "I am encouraged as we start conference. Teams have to play both the run and the pass now. Teams have to be concerned about our versatility this year."
In LSU's 12-10 victory over Auburn in Alabama last year, Mettenberger was 15-of-27 for 169 yards, with no touchdowns, and he fumbled the ball twice.
Auburn faces an entirely different quarterback this year.
Prediction: LSU 34, Auburn 17
Auburn is better this year, but so is LSU.
This year, the game will be played in Baton Rouge, featuring a more efficient LSU offense. I expect the Tigers to be held under their season average of 46.0 points per contest against an improved Auburn squad, but LSU should still win by more than two scores.
Auburn's rushing attack figures to be held under check by LSU's defense, while the visitors' struggles against the run will likely lead to their downfall. Zach Mettenberger has been excellent so far this season for LSU, but he may not need to do much in this one if Les Miles' backfield gets going.
Look for LSU to start 1-0 in SEC competition, much to the chagrin of Guz Malzahn and Co.
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