Game of the Week
Ten years and one day after its last road victory in the series, No. 6 LSU travels to 10th-ranked Auburn in a showdown of SEC powerhouses Saturday night.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made LSU –2.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 84% of bets for this game have been placed on LSU –2.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
The rivalry between LSU (2-0, 0-0) and Auburn (3-0, 1-0) has been a study in protecting home field of late, as the home team has won each of the last eight matchups. That could spell bad news for LSU this week, as its last win at Auburn came Sept. 19, 1998, by a 31-19 score.
LSU coach Les Miles, though, hopes his team's powerful running game and not the venue will make the difference Saturday.
"I want us to treat this like we would treat any road game, to be honest with you, and that we would want and look forward to going there and playing our style of football," Miles said. "I certainly want to have an aggressive approach and look to score some points. I think the reason we didn't score a lot of points last time was that I don't think we were as good on offense at running the football as we are currently."
The last time LSU visited Auburn was a 7-3 loss on Sept. 16, 2006. The Tigers were held to 42 yards rushing and managed only a field goal despite having JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, at quarterback.
Limiting LSU to such a low rushing output this time could be a tall task for Auburn. LSU has rolled up 482 yards on the ground this season, led by 5-foot-11, 221-pound junior Charles Scott, who's run for 262 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 11.4 yards per carry - fourth-best in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Last Saturday, Scott ran for 102 yards on just seven carries to power an LSU ground game that picked up 216 yards in a 41-3 victory over North Texas. LSU gained 425 total yards, showing no ill effects from having their Sept. 6 game against Troy postponed due to Hurricane Gustav.
Auburn, though, has held its three opponents to 53.0 rushing yards per game and given up 15 total points on the season.
Auburn's defense was so good last week that it need only a field goal to win. Limiting Mississippi State to 116 yards, Auburn held on for a 3-2 road victory despite committing three turnovers, missing two field goals and handing the Bulldogs their only points with a safety.
"We gave up zero first downs on 14 chances ... You can win a lot of games like that," coach Tommy Tuberville said.
Tuberville's team may not win this week if its offense performs the same way against a fast and talented LSU defense. Auburn was sloppy with ball against the Bulldogs as it continued to adapt to a new spread offense, and will be facing an LSU squad that's allowing 8.0 points, 48.0 rushing yards and 219.0 total yards per game.
"We obviously need to go back to the drawing board a little bit," Tuberville said. "But we did make some plays. You take away the penalties and the fumbles, and I thought we did a decent job at times."
Auburn's Chris Todd was 14-for-26 for 154 yards and Ben Tate ran for 92 yards on 20 carries.
Auburn won't have to contend with one of the cornerstones of LSU's defense this week, as starting linebacker Darry Beckwith left last Saturday's game with an apparent knee injury.
"There is an injury of significance to Darry Beckwith, and it's safe to say he won't be available this week," Miles said. "I think he'll be back pretty soon, but I don't know when."
If LSU is to win a second straight national title, its annual matchup with Auburn could again prove pivotal. Coming off its first loss last year, LSU took on Auburn on Oct. 20 at Baton Rouge, and Demetrius Byrd's 22-yard touchdown catch from Matt Flynn with one second to spare gave LSU a 30-24 victory.
That game was just the latest chapter in the long history of tight, thrilling contests between the teams. Eleven of the last 18 matchups have been decided by a touchdown or less, including four in a row. The schools have split their last 12 meetings.
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