The Auburn Tigers head into this Saturday’s game at LSU to face their biggest challenge yet. Auburn will be on the road against the top ranked team in the nation, facing a defense that has dominated SEC opponents over the early part of the schedule.
To make things even tougher, Auburn will be breaking in a new starting quarterback for the game Saturday and still might be without their top two wide receivers.
Fortunately for Auburn, what looked like the makings of a blowout took a change for the better Wednesday when three key performers for LSU were suspended for the game due to violations of the team’s drug policy, according to reports.
Star cornerback Tyrann Matthieu, starting running back Spencer Ware, and reserve cornerback Tharold Simon will, at the least, miss the Auburn game, although head coach Les Miles refused to confirm any suspensions.
"I understand the interest which surrounds what seems to be news,” Miles said Wednesday. "The problem with that news is it's internal discipline and internal function of a team. And I'm not inclined to be forthcoming with information. I'm not reactionary to needs of media and things external to this building."
"There's a process that I go through and it's not going to be short-cutted for the need to communicate," he said.
If true, the loss of all three players—but especially Mathieu and Ware—will have a significant impact Saturday.
Mathieu has been a big time playmaker and is one of the top players in the nation. The star corner has forced four fumbles—returning two for touchdowns—along with two interceptions, and is second on the team with 42 tackles.
Compounding the situation is the suspension of fellow cornerback Tharold Simon, as the LSU secondary will undeniably see a major drop-off versus Auburn.
Spencer Ware is leading the unbeaten Tigers with 512 yards and six touchdowns. Though LSU rotates many players at running back, with Alfred Blue and Michael Ford capable replacements, Ware's absence certainly doesn't help matters.
Auburn sophomore quarterback Clint Moseley faces a tall order on his first start Saturday, but the absence of Mathieu gives him one less thing to worry about. The odds of an upset is unlikely, as LSU still fields a very talented team, but the opportunity for Auburn to shake up the college football landscape just became a little easier.