Auburn vs. LSU: What We Learned from Week 4 SEC Battle
No. 6 LSU took a 21-0 lead into halftime against SEC foe Auburn on Saturday and never looked back, emerging with a 35-21 victory in Baton Rouge.
Auburn showed fight with three touchdowns in the second half, but the powerful trio of quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Jeremy Hill and receiver Jarvis Landry ensured Gus Malzahn's squad wouldn't make a comeback.
So, as LSU improved to 4-0 and Auburn dropped to 3-1, what lessons were learned about each team in the SEC battle?
Let's take a look.
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com.
LSU Rushing Attack a Force to Be Reckoned With
LSU came into Saturday's action ranked 29th in the nation in yards per carry and 19th in rushing touchdowns. That included ranking fifth in the SEC in yards per carry and third in the conference in rushing touchdowns.
The Tigers proceeded to rack up 227 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, averaging 5.2 yards per carry along the way.
Sophomore Jeremy Hill was the star in the backfield this time, scampering for 183 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. He had 151 yards and two touchdowns at halftime, becoming the first LSU player to rush for 150 yards or more in a half in the past 10 seasons.
Of course, Hill isn't the only threat at running back for LSU. Junior Terrence Magee posted 95 yards and two touchdowns against TCU in Week 1 and 108 yards and a touchdown against Kent State in Week 3. Senior Alfred Blue and junior Kenny Hilliard have also had some nice games for Les Miles' squad this season.
A lot has been made about the progress of senior quarterback Mettenberger this season, and for good reason. But in the end, LSU is still a run-heavy offense. Headed into Saturday's matchup, the Tigers ranked 111th in pass attempts per game, compared to 55th in carries per game.
Auburn Showing Progress
Auburn dug itself too big of a hole in the first half on Saturday, but fans should be proud of how Malzahn's Tigers battled back, refusing to make it a cakewalk for LSU.
Auburn outscored LSU in the second half, 21-14. Junior quarterback Nick Marshall needs to take better care of the ball—tossing two interceptions—but he gave the visitors some life in the second half, hooking up with sophomore receiver Sammie Coates on gains of 52, 42 and 31 yards.
Malzahn and Co. are still a long way from being on the same level as Miles' Tigers, but keep in mind, Auburn went 3-9 last season, including 0-8 in SEC play.
You have to take baby steps before you make big-boy progressions. The 35-21 score won't reflect it, but Auburn certainly took some baby steps on Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
LSU's Defense Won't Live Up to 2012 Unit
Should LSU be worried about Georgia?
LSU has allowed 19.5 points per game through Week 4. That's not bad, but it pales in comparison to the 17.5 points per contest the Tigers ceded in 2012.
This is despite the Tigers playing against UAB and Kent State, which ranked 85th and 109th in points per game, respectively, headed into Week 4 action.
Against Auburn on Saturday, the defense faced an inexperienced quarterback in Marshall. While the Tigers picked off Marshall twice, they also allowed some big gains through the air. Marshall was able to connect with receiver Coates for big gains as Auburn attempted a comeback. The visitors also outscored the home team in the second half, 21-14.
Beyond that, Auburn had success running the ball on LSU. The visitors totaled 213 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Junior running back Tre Mason scampered for 132 yards and two touchdowns by himself.
If LSU had a little trouble with Auburn's offense in the second half on Saturday, what's going to happen when Miles and Co. face high-powered Georgia next week?
Something to think about.
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