Auburn vs LSU: Preview and Predictions for SEC Showdown

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Auburn vs LSU: Preview and Predictions for SEC Showdown
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Two Tigers teams will be going against each other in an SEC showdown this Saturday as Auburn takes on LSU.

Although they have gone relatively under the radar, No. 6 LSU is 3-0 to start the season, and a win over Auburn would prove that they're a legitimate BCS contender this year. For Auburn, they've looked much better than last season, already matching their win total from the 2012 campaign.  

A win here would show that Auburn is back and ready to play at a high level once again.

Let's preview Saturday's game, follow with some predictions about both teams and a preview of the final score.

 

Viewing Info

Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA

When: Saturday, September 21

Start Time: 7:45 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN/WatchESPN

 

Predictions

Nick Marshall Steps up in First Career Road Game

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This may be Marshall's first season at the Division I level, but the JuCo transfer has looked very good playing for the Auburn Tigers.

In three games, Marshall has had a completion percentage of 61.4 and thrown for 585 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He's an athletic QB but doesn't depend entirely on it, running for 102 yards so far this year.

Last week, Marshall showed that pressure isn't an issue for him. Going against Mississippi State, he led his team to an 88-yard drive in the closing seconds to pull off the big 24-20 win.

This is going to be Marshall's first career road game, and it's in Death Valley, so it's going to be a completely different experience.  Still, the Tigers have given up 57 points so far this season, with 30 coming from two significantly smaller programs, so Marshall should be able to put up points and keep his Tigers in the game.

 

Zach Mettenberger Puts Himself in Heisman Contention

This sounds like a bold claim, but no one has given Mettenberger enough love through the first three games of the season.

Zach Mettenberger 2012 & 2013 Stats
Year Comp Att Pct Yds TD INT Rat
2012 207 352 58.8 2609 12 7 128.3
2013 (3 games) 45 69 65.2 797 9 0 205.3

ESPN.com

Looking at the table above, Mettenberger is on pace to tie his touchdown total from last season in just the fourth game.  Not only that, he hasn't thrown an interception this season, and his completion percentage is up almost seven percent.

A lot of this has to do with the offensive coordinator change to Cam Cameron.  

The offense is averaging almost 500 yards per game, with a great balance between running and passing that's opening up both aspects of their game with great play-calling and use of Mettenberger.

The Auburn secondary has yet to be tested against a truly talented passing team. Expect him to put himself in the Heisman race with a 4-0 team behind him and some really nice numbers.

 

LSU Stops Auburn's Run Game

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Auburn may have a solid running game so far this season, but that's not going to be very effective against LSU.

Corey Grant, Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Nick Marshall have each already ran for over 100 yards for Auburn. As a team, they've run for 716 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

However, the LSU Tigers' defense is strong, with a very athletic front seven. They have a very strong defensive tackle in Ego Ferguson, who was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after stuffing the run and putting up eight tackles in their last game.

They may have lost some key players like Eric Reid and Barkevious Mingo to the NFL, but this defense still looks quite good to start the year.  Expect them to hold Auburn's run game and force Marshall to be the go-to guy through the air.

 

Final Score

Who wins this game?

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Auburn has turned around their program quickly, and this is going to be a big game to show how far they've come.

Unfortunately, they don't have enough pieces this season to take on LSU, who are making a very strong case to be a national championship contender at the end of the season.

This is going to be a very entertaining game to watch, with a lot of passing from both teams.  It should be a high-scoring affair, with big plays throughout and likely some critical game-changing turnovers in the second half.

Prediction: LSU 38, Auburn 28

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