2009 National Rankings:
Rush Offense: 7th/Rush Offense: 89th
Pass Offense: 60th/Pass Offense: 105th
Total Offense: 8th/Total Offense: 112th
Score Offense: 12th/Score Offense: 91st
Rush Defense: 99th/Rush Defense: 55th
Pass Defense: 30th/Pass Defense: 35th
Total Defense: 72nd/Total Defense: 35th
Score Defense: 76th/Score Defense: 14th
While Auburn was suffering its second defeat of the season against Kentucky, LSU had a bye week preparing for this Saturday's conference showdown. It could not have come at a better time for LSU as Coach Les Miles attempts to regroup a talented offense that has failed to live up to expectations.
Despite all the talent on the offensive side of the football, LSU is 112th in total offense and 91st in scoring offense. Senior running back Charles Scott rushed for over 1,100 yards last season, but has only 327 yards on 75 carries this season.
Overall LSU has averaged only 124 yards rushing per game while quarterback,Jordan Jefferson is currently completing 63 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and only three interceptions. Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver have been Jefferson's primary receivers with both over 300 yards in receiving.
LSU is 35th nationally in total defense, but 14th in scoring defense. Senior linebacker, Kelvin Sheppard leads LSU with 44 tackles followed by veteran linebacker Perry Riley with 42 stops. The Tigers' starting three senior linebackers are also their top leaders in tackles.
Rahim Alem is the impact player from the LSU front-four with 12 career sacks. The defense is 93rd nationally in tackles for loss and 56th in forced turnovers. With only six sacks this season this is not the typical dominating LSU defense seen in the past. Last season, LSU finished 32nd nationally in total defense.
Inside the Numbers
•LSU leads the series 23-18-1, winning three of the last four meetings against Auburn.
•Auburn is 4-13-1 at LSU capturing its last road victory against LSU in 1999 under first-year coach,Tommy Tuberville.
•The last three Auburn coaches (Tuberville, Terry Bowden and Pat Dye) won their first game against LSU during their first season.
•During the last 20 meetings between the two programs, Auburn is 11-9 against LSU averaging 323-yards and 20 points per game to 322 yards and 18-points scored by LSU.
•Miles and LSU are 3-1 against Auburn, but all four meetings have been decided by 6 points or less.
•In the last 20 meetings against LSU, Auburn is 6-1, when rushing for at least 150 yards.
•One of the classic meetings between the two schools happened in 1997 when Auburn defeated LSU in Baton Rouge, 31-28. Dameyune Craig passed for 342 yards while LSU rushed for 377 yards. In the last 20 meetings between the two schools, the 1997 game marked the only time LSU rushed for over 200 yards against an Auburn defense.
•Ben Tate comes into the LSU game as one of the top running backs in the country with 856-yards rushing. Tate will be looking to have his first breakout game against LSU with 62-yards on 29 carries in his previous two outings against LSU.
•In the last 10 meetings, Auburn's starting quarterbacks have combined for a pass rating of 132.1 against LSU. This includes a completion percentage of 58 percent, 13 touchdown passes to just four interceptions.
•Since 1992, the team leading after the first period is 9-3 and the team leading at halftime is 10-5.
Why Auburn should win…
•Auburn is seventh in the nation in run offense and LSU is 55th in run defense.
•Ranked at 112th nationally in total offense, LSU might be the break the Auburn defense has been looking for against a "quality" conference opponent.
•Auburn is 23rd nationally in first downs per game and LSU is 48th in first down defense.
•Auburn is seventh nationally in sacks allowed and LSU is 114th in sacks on defense.
•Overall scoring averages and margins projects a 25-24 Auburn victory
RB Charles Scott (left) and Trindon Holliday, a receiver and returner, are key players or LSU.
Why LSU should win…
•In its last two outings Auburn has averaged 345 yards and 19 points per game while allowing 426-yards and 32 points.
•Auburn's run defense has allowed 196 yards rushing on 4.8 yards per rush.
•Scoring averages and margins against SEC competition projects a LSU victory of 22-18.
•Scoring averages and margins from each team's last three games projects a LSU victory of 22-11.
•After averaging better than five offensive touchdowns per game in the first four games, the Auburn offense has averaged two in the last 3 games.
•LSU's bye-week is a huge advantage over an Auburn team which will play its eighth consecutive game. The extra week will allow LSU defensive coordinator John Chavas more time to scheme against Gus Malzahn's offense.
Last week I noted the scoring margins and averages in Auburn and Kentucky's last three games projected a six-point victory for the Wildcats. I elected to go with the overall averages, writing off the Arkansas loss as a lack of focus on offense. Auburn's seven offensive points against Kentucky indicates more than a lack of focus.
The Auburn offense has been able to run the ball during its two losses, but Chris Todd and the pass-offense have struggled. Since the Ball State game Todd's quarterback rating has progressively dropped each week. This raises the issue of whether or not Chris Todd is playing with an injured shoulder or if the opposition has dialed up Malzahn's passing schemes.
Part of Auburn's offensive struggles lately has been its inefficiency on first down, especially in the first halves of the Arkansas and Kentucky games. Auburn averaged just two yards per play in the first half against the Razorbacks and 1.8 yards against the Wildcats. This is bad news for Auburn when you consider how efficient the LSU defense has been on first down. Against their five BCS opponents, LSU has allowed 4.1 yards per play on first down and 3.4 yards excluding the Florida game.
Louisiana State's BCS opponents have run the ball 59.7 percent of the time on first down, averaging 3.3 yards rushing and 5.4 yards passing. LSU has held its opponents' pass percentage to 48.3 percent on first down.
If Auburn has any chance of victory against LSU the offense will have to play at the level it did during the 5-game winning streak. Being more productive on first down will be essential for this to happen. Against BCS opponents Auburn has run the ball 80.6 percent of the time on first down, averaging just 3.9 yards per pass attempt. Though Auburn has averaged 5.8 yards rushing on first down, LSU's run-defense has been rock solid on first down allowing just 2.9 yards rushing except for the Florida game. If Auburn continues its offensive woes, especially on first down and in the passing game, it could be a long night in Baton Rouge. LSU 24, Auburn 13
Around the SEC…
Alabama over Tennessee by 16
Arkansas over Ole Miss by 6
Florida over Mississippi State by 13
Georgia – Bye week
Kentucky over Louisiana Monroe by 22
South Carolina over Vanderbilt by 11