LSU WILL WIN IF …
The offensive line plays much better: There’s no way around this one. If LSU’s offensive line plays like it did against Southeastern, an FCS foe, Auburn is going to win this game going away and Joe Burrow may end up getting taken off the field in a stretcher. Burrow was sacked twice on Saturday night and hit countless others. The line was also called for four penalties, three of which were called on right tackle Badara Traore. Getting Saahdiq Charles back after a one-game suspension will help, but this unit as a whole must be better against a talented defensive front.
Stay sane on the Plains: Few rivalries in college sport have produced as many chaotic endings as the annual Tiger Bowl between LSU and Auburn, but there’s been one thing that’s stayed consistent of late: the home team tends to win. Auburn hasn’t won in Baton Rouge since 1999 while LSU has only won twice in nine trips to Jordan-Hare Stadium this century. That trend continued two years ago when video review determined the clock had literally run out on the Les Miles Era at LSU. So just avoid the inherent chaos and LSU could be ok.
AUBURN WILL WIN IF …
Get the ground game on track: The root cause of LSU overcoming a 20-0 deficit for a historic comeback win against Auburn last season was a defense that slowed down the running game enough to put the game on Jarrett Stidham. LSU then managed to generate its own pass rush and Auburn ground to a halt. Auburn managed just 3.3 yards per carry in its season opener against Washington before padding their stats against Alabama State. Stidham is most dangerous off play action, but first Auburn needs to demonstrate it can still run the ball without 2017 SEC Player of the Year Kerryon Johnson.
Expect the unexpected: LSU coach Ed Orgeron swore up and down that LSU hasn’t been holding anything back offensively in advance of playing Auburn. He said that LSU was playing to win against FCS foe Southeastern, and that Steve Ensminger dialed up everything his offense has to offer in that incredibly blah performance. Maybe Orgeron is telling the truth and this offense just isn’t that good, but we’ve yet to see many elements of spread or tempo, so there could be more to come. Auburn coordinator Kevin Steele — formerly of LSU and a close friend of Orgeron — must be prepared for either reality.
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