Can LSU rebound?
With its national championship hopes in jeopardy following its first loss, fifth-ranked LSU hopes to avoid a big blow to its SEC title hopes in a matchup with No. 18 Auburn as these rivals continue a series which has been producing memorable finishes.
"I feel like it will work out for us. We're still in good shape," LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey said. "We're not where we were or where we could be, but we still have a lot to play for."
LSU (6-1, 3-1) was a unanimous choice as the No. 1 team in the nation before losing 43-37 in three overtimes at Kentucky last Saturday. While a win would have put LSU at the top of the first BCS standings released on Sunday, the team settled for fourth behind undefeated teams Ohio State, South Florida and Boston College.
"We appreciate that position and understand that it puts us in a good position for the future, but we are paying little attention to it," LSU coach Les Miles said. "What we have to do is be our best football team and prepare to play a quality opponent. There is no time to hang your head."
LSU fell into a tie atop the SEC West with Alabama and Auburn (5-2, 3-1), which has won four in a row.
Auburn drove 50 yards in 65 seconds en route to Wes Byrum's 20-yard field goal with 21 seconds to play for a 9-7 victory over Arkansas last Saturday.
Auburn won 20-17 at then-No. 4 Florida on Sept. 29 in its only other game away from home this season, and enters this matchup seeking its ninth straight SEC road win.
"With this road schedule we've had, it was not looking good a couple of weeks ago," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I don't know if we are good enough to get to Atlanta (for the SEC title game) or win in Atlanta, but the good thing is we are getting better."
A win this week would cement that fact, with Auburn visiting an LSU team which has won 17 consecutive home games since a 34-14 loss to Georgia on Dec. 3, 2005. The home team has won each of the last seven Auburn-LSU matchups, and the winner in five of those games has gone on to play in the SEC title game.
"Certainly the Florida win and the win against Arkansas last week shows you how very capable Auburn is," Miles said.
The last three meetings have been decided by a total of eight points.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made LSU -10 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Thursday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Auburn +10 (View College Football bet percentages).
Both teams were ranked in the top 10 when they met last season and Auburn won 7-3 when safety Eric Brock tackled LSU receiver Craig Davis at the 4-yard line on the game's final play.
The previous year saw this rivalry go to overtime for the first time, and LSU won 20-17 after Auburn's 39-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright. In 2004, Auburn scored a touchdown with 1:14 left to tie the game only to miss the extra point, but an LSU personal foul led to a second attempt and Auburn converted to win 10-9.
"This is always a great game, one of the better ones in the conference," Tuberville said. "Even nationally, it's picked up a lot of interest. We always expect a tough, hard-fought game against LSU, especially when you go on the road. Their fans really get into it."
LSU's defense likely needs a better performance this week, having given up more than 300 yards in two straight games. LSU gave up a season-worst 375 yards to Kentucky and the 27 points allowed in regulation was its most in 21 games since the 2005 loss to Georgia.
Auburn has totaled 428 rushing yards over the past two weeks, including 187 by Ben Tate. LSU has given up 281 yards on the ground in that span after allowing 195 through five games.
The Auburn run defense held Heisman Trophy candidate Darren McFadden to 43 yards - his previous season low was 122 - on 17 carries last week. That does not bode well for an LSU offense which focuses on the run, ranking 10th nationally with 232.1 yards per game and having four players with at least 200 rushing yards.
While LSU is No. 2 in the nation in total defense, allowing 223.1 yards per game, Auburn is ninth at 279.0.
"I would say probably LSU has the best defense in the country," Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers said. "So we're just trying to get to those guys' level."
Neither quarterback has been particularly good this season, but Auburn's Brandon Cox has limited his mistakes lately while LSU's Matt Flynn has been unable to sustain many drives.
Cox, who had six interceptions through three games, has completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 628 yards with two TDs and one interception during Auburn's four-game win streak. Flynn is just 31-of-62 over the last two games for 274 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"We understand that our work is cut out for us and we like it that way," Miles said. "We appreciate the opportunity to be at home and play a quality opponent. I think beyond the game that we just experienced, we are looking forward to playing a very capable opponent because frankly, it is just what we need."
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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