StatTiger: Analyzing LSU at Auburn

StatTiger (Stuart Carter) goes in-depth to crunch the numbers and other factors to determine who should win the big SEC football showdown of unbeaten teams as Auburn entertains LSU.

No. 4 Auburn 7-0/4-0 SEC

No. 6 LSU 7-0/4-0 SEC<

Series record: 24-18-1 in favor of LSU

2010 National Rankings:

Auburn/LSU:

Rush Offense: 6th/Rush Offense: 33rd
Pass Offense: 76th/Pass Offense: 113th
Total Offense: 9th/Total Offense: 92nd
Score Offense: 6th/Score Offense: 70th
Rush Defense: 15th/Rush Defense: 6th
Pass Defense: 108th/Pass Defense: 8th
Total Defense: 63rd/Total Defense: 3rd
Score Defense: 63rd/Score Defense: 11th

About LSU

The sixth-ranked LSU Tigers come to Jordan-Hare for a major Southeastern Conference showdown between two unbeaten and Top 10 ranked teams. On the line is a spot in the driver's seat to Atlanta as both teams attempt to forge the shortest path to winning the SEC West.

Les Miles has compiled a 58-15 record as the head coach of LSU and he will bring one of the nation's best defensive units to combat Cameron Newton and the highly-ranked Auburn offense. This will mark the fourth meeting between the two schools with both teams being ranked in the Top 10 and the loser of this game could find it difficult to reach the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta with Alabama remaining on their schedule.

The LSU offense has struggled this season in terms of consistency, but its run offense has been the most consistent aspect of their offense. Stevan Ridley (6-0, 223) leads LSU with 686 yards rushing on 4.9 yards per rush. The big tailback comes into the game with three 100-yard performances this season with LSU averaging 188 yards per game on the ground.

The primary reason LSU has struggled on offense is its aerial attack that is currently 106th in pass efficiency, mainly due to the lack of production from quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Jarrett Lee has seen extensive action in the last two games, completing 72 percent of his passes on the season. Look for both quarterbacks to play this Saturday because of the variety of packages the LSU offense operates from.

When LSU does pass the ball, Terrence Toliver (6-5, 203) will likely be the primary target. He is leading the team with 22 receptions on the season. Rueben Randle (6-4, 207) is another physical wideout LSU who has 20 receptions.

Despite having to replace six starters from its 2009 defense and four of its top 11 tacklers, LSU has put together another solid defensive unit under Coach John Chavis. The veteran coach has been one of the premier coordinators in the Southeastern Conference since 1995.

Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (6-3, 240) leads LSU with 66 tackles and is No. 2 in tackles for loss. Linebacker Ryan Baker is the team's second leading tackler with 42 on the season.

Drake Nevis

Defensive tackle Drake Nevis is third on the team with 38 tackles, No. 1 in sacks and No. 1 in tackles for loss. Nevis is a highly-regarded defensive tackle who anchors an aggressive line. Defensive end Sam Montgomery is No. 3 on the team with tackles for loss including two sacks.

Cornerback Morris Claiborne leads LSU with four interceptions to go along with 17 tackles. Patrick Peterson is LSU's premiere cornerback as well as its star punt returner. The LSU defense is currently 11th nationally in sacks, 17th in tackles for loss and 18th in forced-turnovers.

Patrick Peterson

Inside the Numbers

•Since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in 1992 the series record between the two schools is 9-9-0, but LSU has won four of the last five meetings.

•Since 1992 Auburn is 6-3 against LSU when AU wins the rushing battle and LSU is 6-3 when it wins the rushing battle.

•Since 1992 Auburn is 5-0 against LSU when it runs the ball at least 45 times.

•In the last 18 meetings between the two schools, Auburn has averaged 320 yards and 21 points per game and LSU has averaged 344 yards and 20 points.

•Five of the last six meetings have been settled by six points or less.

•In the last four meetings against LSU, Auburn's offense has averaged only 248 yards and 16 points per game. This includes a rushing average of 88 yards per game on 2.3 yards per carry.

•The Auburn offense scored seven touchdowns against Arkansas last week, which is the same number of touchdowns against LSU in the last four games combined.

•LSU teams have thrown only two interceptions against Auburn out of 168 pass attempts with Miles as head coach.

•The Auburn running game has gained 45.8 percent more yards than what its opponent normally allows and the LSU run defense has held opponents to 47.6 percent below their rushing average.

•Auburn's offense has scored 39.8 percent more than what its opponent has allowed and the LSU defense has held its opponents to 42.4 percent below their scoring average.

•If the game comes down to special teams, LSU has a distinct advantage in the punting game. It is ranked No. 53 nationally in net punting and Auburn is No. 80. LSU has the sixth best punt return average vs. Auburn's No. 32 ranking in punt return defense. Auburn is No. 80 in punt returns. LSU is No. 35 in punt return defense.

•In terms of kick returns, neither team has a distinctive edge. Auburn is No. 16 nationally and No. 41 in kick return defense. LSU is No. 21 in kick return offense and No. 35 in kick-return defense.

•Auburn holds a slight statistical edge in the line scrimmage. Auburn is No. 35 in allowing tackles for loss and No. 24 in tackles for loss. LSU is No. 48 in allowing tackles for loss and No. 17 in tackles for loss.

•Auburn is plus four in turnovers and LSU is minus two in turnovers this season.

Why Auburn should win

•Auburn is 6-3 against LSU at Jordan-Hare since 1992.

•Auburn, by far, will be the best offense LSU has faced this season. LSU's prior six major opponents have averaged 351 yards and 26 points per game while Auburn has averaged 481 yards and 41 points per game.

Coach Gene Chizik's Tigers are on an eight-game winning streak.

•In their last three conference games, Auburn has faced the seventh-rated pass offense in Arkansas, the 12th-rated pass offense in South Carolina and the 22nd rated pass offense in Kentucky. LSU enters the game with the 106th rated pass offense in terms of pass-efficiency.

•Cam Newton is averaging 307 yards and four touchdowns per game.

•In its last four games the Auburn offense has averaged 497 yards and 47 points per game.

Why LSU should win...

•Auburn is 3-4 in its last seven games against a defense that finished the season ranked in the Top 10 of total defense. LSU is currently the No. 3 rated defense in the nation.

•In the last 20 meetings against Top 10 defenses, Auburn has averaged 286 yards and 17 points on offense.

•LSU will be the best run defense Auburn has faced all season. If it is able to hold Auburn under 200 yards rushing it could spell trouble for the home team. Of Auburn's 46 scoring drives, 35 had more run plays than pass plays. Of the plays involved in Auburn's scoring drives, 71 percent have been run plays.

•LSU has been playing musical quarterbacks during the last three weeks. If Lee gets the start or plays the majority of the game, it could spell trouble for an Auburn offense that has struggled defending the short passing game. Lee is an extremely accurate passer, who would be supported by a solid running game.

•Under Miles, LSU has compiled an 18-6 record on the road during the regular season.

Final Word

This will be an interesting matchup of Auburn's highly-rated run offense vs. the highly-rated run defense of LSU. It will also be a matchup of Auburn's poor pass defense vs. LSU's struggling pass offense.

The Bengal Tigers' strength on offense is their running game, but they will face an Auburn defense currently No. 15 in the nation against the run. If both defenses are able to take away or control the other's running game, it will come down to the performance of the quarterbacks.

For Auburn, Cameron Newton is the nation's No. 2 rated passer, making Auburn a far more balanced offense than LSU. Even against Auburn's major opponents this season Newton has a passer rating of 160.9, which would still be 14th nationally. This might be the first game Newton has to lead Auburn to victory more with the passing game than on the ground. The LSU defense is solid at cornerback, which will allow it to devote more bodies to defend the Auburn running game.

The scoring averages and margins of both teams against their major opponents indicates a LSU victory. Auburn has averaged 36 points per game while allowing 28 points against its BCS opponents. LSU has averaged 26 points while allowing 15 against BCS teams.

Auburn has scored 39.8 percent more than what its opponent has allowed while holding its opponent to 10.1 percent below its scoring average. LSU has scored 23.8 percent more than its opponents have allowed, but has held opponents to 42.4 percent below their scoring average. Taking Auburn's average score vs. LSU's scoring margins and LSU wins, 35-21. Taking the average score of LSU vs. Auburn's scoring margins and LSU wins, 23-21. Average the two scores and LSU wins, 29-21.

Both teams are improved from last season and are still striving to get better. Either team could easily have dropped at least one game along the way prior to this Saturday's showdown, but they found ways of remaining undefeated. This will be the fourth time in the series both teams entered the game ranked in the Top 10 with LSU holding a 2-1 record in those meetings.

In a matchup like this, I always go with the team that has the better running game and plays better run defense. In this case Auburn has the better run offense, but LSU has the better run defense. As good as LSU might be on defense, it will likely find it more difficult to defend Auburn's offense than Auburn defending LSU because of Newton. He truly has been the difference-maker through seven games and there is no reason to believe he can't be the difference maker this Saturday. Auburn 27, LSU 23

Around the SEC...

Mississippi State over UAB by 16

Kentucky over Georgia by 3

Alabama over Tennessee by 17

South Carolina over Vanderbilt by 13

Arkansas over Ole Miss by 11



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