StatTiger: Previewing LSU at Auburn

Stuart Carter (StatTiger) crunches the numbers previewing Saturday night's LSU at Auburn football game.

Auburn 1-2 (0-1) vs. No. 2 LSU 3-0 (0-0)

Series Record: 25-20-1 (LSU)

Last Meeting: 2011 LSU 42-10

National Statistical Rankings (2011):

Rushing Offense: LSU (No. 13), Auburn (No. 57)
Pass Efficiency Offense: LSU (No. 24), Auburn (No. 106)
Total Offense: LSU (No. 31), Auburn (No. 102)
Scoring Offense: LSU (No. 9), Auburn (No. 104)
Rushing Defense: LSU (No. 4), Auburn (No. 107)
Pass Efficiency Defense: LSU (No. 16), Auburn (No. 81)
Total Defense: LSU (No. 4), Auburn (No. 94)
Scoring Defense: LSU (No. 11), Auburn (No. 78)
Net Punting: LSU (No. 5), Auburn (No. 27)
Punt Return Offense: LSU (No. 47), Auburn (No. 85)
Punt Return Defense: LSU (No. 4), Auburn (No. 57)
Kick Return Offense: Auburn (No. 6), LSU (No. 10)
Kick Return Defense: Auburn (No. 1), LSU (No. 16)

Inside the Numbers:

•LSU appears to be one of the strongest teams in the country scoring 48 points per game while allowing just 10.

•The LSU defense has been splendid against the run, allowing just 47 yards per game at 1.7 yards per rush.

•The LSU offense has converted 50 percent of its third downs while its opponent has converted just 27 percent.

Kenny Hilliard, Alfred Blue and Michael Ford have averaged 7.08 yards per rush, including 14 runs of 10-yards or more and six of 20-yards or more. Blue is expected to miss the game due to an injury.

•LSU is averaging 6.38 yards per rush on first down and Auburn's defense has allowed 5.22 yards on first down.

•LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is completing 73 percent of his passes as the No. 23 rated passer in the nation. He gives LSU a major league arm, which can stretch opposing defenses vertically.

Zach Mettenberger

Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr. are LSU's two leading receivers, but Kadron Boone has been their big playmaker with three touchdowns on just four receptions. Boone is currently averaging 23.8 yards per catch.

•Linebacker Kevin Minter leads LSU with 21 tackles, including three for losses. Right behind him in tackles is linebacker Lamin Barrow with 18 stops.

•LSU's front four on defense will once again be a major challenge for a young Auburn offensive line. Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery are quality bookends at end. Bennie Logan, Anthony Johnson, Ego Ferguson and Josh Downs give LSU a great rotation in the interior line.

Barkevious Mingo is one of LSU's talented defensive linemen.

•Cornerback Jalen Mills and safety Ronald Martin both have two picks on the season not to mention one of the best safeties in college football, Eric Reid.

•LSU has been stellar in run defense, but is also No. 16 in pass efficiency defense. Opponents have a pass rating of 95.7 against LSU's defense and Auburn's pass efficiency on offense is just 110.9.

•During Auburn's last 15 games, Auburn had more tackles for loss than its opponent on only two occasions.

•Coach Les Miles is 5-2 in games vs. Auburn.

What to watch for...

•This game has always been an extremely physical matchup. Can Auburn's run defense, rated No. 107 nationally, control the No. 13 rated run offense? If LSU can force Auburn into nickel coverages it will be a long day for Auburn's interior six.

•Since 1992 Auburn has recorded 27 victories over FBS teams with a winning percentage of at least 70 percent. During those victories, Auburn averaged 168 yards rushing with an average pass rating of 138.7. Kiehl Frazier will have to play significantly better than he has up to this point for Auburn to be competitive this Saturday night.

•During the last 20 meetings Auburn is 7-3 against LSU when it has more yards rushing and LSU is 7-3 under the same circumstances. Auburn is 6-1 against LSU with at least 40 rushing attempts during the game. Auburn establishing their running game would really help a struggling Frazier.

•Auburn has averaged only 158.3 yards passing vs. LSU under Miles, including five touchdown passes in the past seven games. Frazier doesn't have to throw for 300 yards, but needs to be extremely efficient and cannot turn the ball over.

•During the last 20 meetings, Auburn is 8-3 vs. LSU, when it did not lose the turnover battle and 2-7 when it did. Auburn must win the turnover battle to have any chance in this game.

•It will be imperative that Auburn's offense plays well early, which will be difficult to happen. Auburn has only scored on 25 percent of its first four possessions of the game this season and against a Miles LSU team, Auburn has only scored on 21 percent of its first 4 possessions.

•Auburn's current ratio of a turnover every 20.7 snaps is the second worst ratio in the last 30 years of Auburn football. Auburn's forced-turnover ratio of 1 every 120.5 snaps on defense is the worst ratio of an Auburn defense during the last 30 seasons. Auburn must force turnovers against LSU and protect the football.

•LSU is currently running the football 75 percent of the time on first down, averaging 6.4 yards per rush. The LSU offense overall is averaging 6.7 yards per play on first down, while allowing only 3.7. Auburn has averaged 5.3 yards per play on first down while allowing 5.7. Auburn must be more competitive on the early downs to make this a game. If not, Auburn's fate will fall upon a developing quarterback faced with third and long.

Keys to victory...

•Auburn must outplay LSU on first down. LSU enters the game averaging three yards more per play on first down than its opponent.

•Auburn must rush for at least 150 yards while holding LSU under 150 yards rushing. This area is key if Auburn is to have any chance of upsetting the No. 2 team in the country.

•Auburn cannot turn the football over and if the Tigers do, they must force LSU into two turnovers for each one given.

•Win field position battle, aided by Auburn's great special teams.

•Frazier doesn't have to play great, but needs to be very efficient. A pass rating performance of at least 135.0 will be essential.

•On offense Scot Loeffler needs to remove all slow developing plays from the playbook and utilize the running backs in the passing game. It will be difficult to run against LSU, but Auburn can put its backs into space to make plays.

•On defense Brian VanGorder has to slow the LSU running game without allowing the big pass play over the top.

•Auburn will need to be more aggressive in coverage to allow its defensive ends time to pressure the quarterback.

•Auburn's defense needs to generate two turnovers, which will be a major challenge considering the defense has just two so far through the first three games.

•Special teams needs to be very special Saturday night in terms of coming up with some type of quick score while maintaining a field advantage for Auburn to compete on vs. such a strong opponent.

LSU is ranked No. 2 nationally in the major polls under the director of Coach Les Miles.

Statistically speaking, LSU should be a heavy favorite in this game and the large spread is reasonable considering how both teams have performed three games into the season. If Auburn is going to be competitive this Saturday night, the Tigers must win their share of battles up front.

Should LSU dominate on both sides of the line, a repeat of last year's score is highly probable. This will certainly be a major test to see how much more physical this team has become compared to 2011. Will Auburn be able to take punch after punch and be able to stand to deliver its own blows?

Something to watch for will be how LSU schemes offensively early in the game. Auburn's first three opponents spread out on defense, forcing the Tigers into a 4-2-5 alignment. Because Auburn's defense has struggled obtaining a push from their interior line, opponents have been able to consistently run against Auburn's nickel package. If LSU elects to pound the football early, it would allow Auburn to remain in their base 4-3 with seven defenders in the box.

Auburn must find a way of cutting LSU's current scoring average in half while finding a way for its offense to score twice as much as LSU has allowed. That will be a tough thing to do.

Entering this weekend, Auburn's offense is scoring 4.8 percent less than what its opponent has allowed while the defense has held its opponent to 24.7 percent below its scoring average. LSU has scored 41.4 percent more than its opponent has allowed while the LSU defense has held its opponent to 46.5 percent below its scoring average. Auburn's challenge of cutting LSU's scoring averages in half is a daunting task to say the least. LSU 38, Auburn 10

Around the Southeastern Conference

Ole Miss over Tulane
Florida over Kentucky
South Carolina over Missouri
Alabama over Florida Atlantic
Arkansas over Rutgers
Mississippi State over South Alabama
Texas A&M over South Carolina State
Tennessee over Akron
Georgia over Vanderbilt

Season picks record: 30-6.


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