Auburn at LSU Preview
Baton Rouge, LA - LSU has had some time to digest a poor offensive performance in its first loss of the season, and no one may be more eager for redemption than Jordan Jefferson.
Jefferson and ninth-ranked LSU could be in line for another thrilling matchup with Auburn on Saturday night as the SEC West rivals meet in Baton Rouge.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made LSU –7.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on LSU –7.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
LSU (5-1, 3-1) returns to the field after its bye week following a 13-3 loss to then-No. 1 Florida on Oct. 10. The Tigers were held to their fewest points since a 7-3 loss to Auburn in 2006 while their 162 total offensive yards were their fewest since managing 149 in a loss to Arkansas in 2000.
Jefferson especially struggled to move the offense. He was 11 of 17 for 96 yards and one interception, converting a season-low five passing first downs. Jefferson hasn't thrown a touchdown in the last two games although the offensive line hasn't given him much of a chance. The quarterback has been sacked 11 times in the last two games.
Despite Jefferson's ineffectiveness, coach Les Miles said he wasn't planning on benching the sophomore in favor of Jarrett Lee, who was the Tigers starter last season before losing the job to Jefferson late in the year.
"I like the development of the quarterback who's currently starting," Miles said.
"At times, our passing game is very efficient," he added. "The quarterback gets real comfortable with those throws and wants to stay there. But, we have to throw the ball more downfield."
Miles will be looking to get the running game back on track after it struggled again in the loss. The Tigers were held to 66 yards on the ground by the Gators, with leading rusher Charles Scott managing 53 yards on 13 carries. It wasn't the team's worst ground game of the year, though, as LSU was limited to 30 yards against Mississippi State on Sept. 26. The Tigers ran for 156 yards the next week against Georgia.
"We just need to execute better," Miles said. "We have to run the ball more efficiently. If we do that, everything opens up."
The Tigers are averaging 23.0 points per game this season - tied for 91st in the Football Subdivision. They averaged 38.6 points in 2007 when they won the national championship, which was 11th-best in the nation.
While its offense is struggling, LSU expects another tight contest with Auburn (5-2, 2-2). The last five meetings have been decided by a combined 19 points, with LSU winning three of five, including the last two. Last season, each were ranked in the top 10 when LSU pulled out a 26-21 victory, scoring with 1:03 remaining.
"The traditions between these two teams are steep," Miles said. "They are two of the more successful teams in our conference, teams that are used to playing in tight games and this will be another great Saturday night in Tiger Stadium if history repeats itself."
Auburn's season unraveled after last year's loss to LSU, resulting in Tommy Tuberville stepping down following a 5-7 campaign. The Tigers got off to a promising start this season under Gene Chizik, but have lost their last two, including a 21-14 home loss to Kentucky on Saturday.
Auburn averaged 45.3 points in its first four games, but has been held to 21.0 in the last three. Much of the dropoff can be attributed to quarterback Chris Todd's struggles. He threw 11 touchdowns in the first four games, averaging 254 yards passing, but has thrown only one score in the last three, averaging 143.7 yards.
Todd was benched after six games last season in part due to a sore shoulder, but also because of ineffectiveness. His current backup - Kodi Burns - is also behind him in the depth chart this year, although Chizik said there's no quarterback controversy.
Todd, however, said he's approaching Saturday like his job isn't safe.
"I think you always need to prepare and play every day like you're competing for your job," he said. "I think that makes you better. I think you always need to play like that. I think if you ever get comfortable and feel good about your position, that's not a good thing. I think you always need to compete and find ways to make yourself better every week."
Despite his problems the last two weeks, Todd still is fourth in the SEC in passing yards (1,443) and is third in pass efficiency.
"There's a lot of issues in there, and we really feel very strongly that we're going to get that rectified," Chizik said. "But it has been off the last two weeks."
Auburn has lost its last four trips to Baton Rouge, with its most recent victory there coming in 1999.
Posted: 10/21/09 1:30AM ET