Posted on September 12, 2018, by Travis Pulver
College football fans often have to wait a couple of months before they get to see their team get truly tested. But that will not be the case for those who back the LSU and Auburn Tigers. Both have already played a top 25 team and won. But that just establishes them as a good team. A win over another establishes them as a team to be reckoned with.
As a little extra incentive, the winner will have a leg up on the other in the SEC West. If someone actually beats Alabama this year, that could be important.
No. 12 LSU Tigers
The Tigers entered the season with a ton of question marks; many of them focused on Ed Orgeron’s ability to take the program to the next level. While it is too early to make that kind of judgment, it is safe to say the Tigers will be competitive this year.
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So far, they appear to be using a philosophy LSU fans know very well—run the ball and play dominant defense. They certainly did just that against a tough Miami team in the season opener. The defense pitched a shutout against Southeastern Louisiana last week, and Nick Brossette had another 100-yard day.
He’s not a good as either Derrius Guice or Leonard Fournette, but he’s definitely better than the average starting running back on FBS teams.
But Burrow was nothing special (10-20 for 151 yards and two touchdowns) against one of the easiest opponents he’ll face all season. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t especially good either (the same could be said for how he played against Miami).
No. 7 Auburn Tigers
Like LSU, Auburn started the year off against a top ten opponent, the then-No. 6 Washington Huskies. The defense appeared to be in good shape. They limited the Huskies to just 102 yards on the ground (33 carries). While Jake Browning did throw for close to 300 yards, he only had one touchdown pass.
So, yeah, they gave up some yards to a very good offense. But they didn’t break. They only bent.
Offensively, Jarrett Stidham appears to have begun where he left out, and Kam Martin appears to be settling in well to the lead back role. He didn’t get much work last week against Alabama State. But that was more because the team wanted to get their freshman running backs some game time.
“There’s nothing like carries in a game,” Malzahn said. “Four freshmen carried the football. That was by design. We want to give those guys a chance to show what they can do.”
The defense appears to be on track for the Tigers, and the offense looks like it is in good shape, too.
So—who’s going to win?
LSU is playing good defense and has a solid running back in Brossette, but it remains to be seen if Burrow can get the job done through the air. To beat Auburn, he may be called upon to do so. Auburn will probably focus on shutting the running game down and forcing Burrow to beat them.
Both teams will try to run the ball and will likely do an ‘okay’ job at it. But when it comes to the passing game, Stidham is more likely to find success than Burrow.
The prediction: It is hard to say with confidence that LSU will be able to pass on Auburn’s defense. LSU may slow Auburn’s offense down in the first half. But it will come alive in the second. So, take Auburn to win and cover the spread (-10; ambitious, but if LSU’s offense flounders like I think it will, they’ll do it by halftime).