Auburn Quarterback Cameron Newton
No. 4 Auburn (7-0, 4-0) plays No. 6 LSU (7-0, 4-0) this Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It's arguably the biggest home game Auburn has played since 2006, when No. 2 Florida (the eventual national champions) and No. 6 LSU both came to town.
Everyone is singing the praises of Heisman candidate Cameron Newton and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. People are already anticipating the Iron Bowl garnering incredible national attention.
Lost in the crazy response to Auburn's weird but impressive 65-43 win over Arkansas is the fact that LSU is an extremely talented and dangerous football team. The fact that they've caught a few breaks does not make them an easy opponent by any stretch.
Statistically LSU is the best defense Auburn will play this season. They have an all-world cornerback in Patrick Peterson, who can change the game on special teams. Steven Ridley is second in the SEC in rushing behind Cam Newton.
LSU feels disrespected. Though they're generally an arrogant program with an arrogant coach, they have been mocked and criticized all season for the way they have gotten to 7-0.
After talking with some of their fans and listening to interviews from the players and coaches, I get the feeling that LSU is a bit angry about how much more attention Auburn is getting, despite their identical records. The Bengal Tigers enter this game as a 6-point underdog, which is surprising.
They will play for their coaching staff and for some respect.
All of those attitudes lead to an extremely hungry football team. LSU controls their own destiny in every regard, and yet they feel slighted. They will be very motivated to prove a point on Saturday. Besides motivation and attitude, LSU has far too much talent to be minimized.
Sure, their pass offense has been weak this season, but Jarrett Lee has done some nice things down the field as their "passing" quarterback. Auburn fans should remember that he had a field day in 2008 in Jordan-Hare when he came in for an injured Andrew Hatch. Their defense is extremely strong and will frustrate Cam Newton and the Auburn offense at times.
And of course, LSU has had Auburn's number for the last three seasons.
Auburn might be the better football team, but many of the "intangibles" seem to be leaning LSU's way. They will not be intimidated playing on the road, and will bring an "us against the world" mindset on Saturday. Auburn has used that tactic successfully many times, but now finds themselves on the other end of the spectrum.
How will they handle it? We'll find out on Saturday. It should be a great game.