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LSU is coming into this game with all of the momentum after winning their first SEC game, in a weird game plan week against Mississippi State. Auburn is coming off of a week in which they barely beat Georgia State in a game where they were 27.5 point favorites. Bo Nix wasn’t able to seal the deal, leaving former LSU Tiger TJ Finley to come in and win the game in the fourth quarter. LSU can completely change the way they’re viewed with a win this week, so how can they go about winning on Friday?

Auburn’s Offense Key Stats

*ranks are out of 130 (all stats courtesy of ESPN and NCAA)

Total Offense: 18th

Passing Offense: 73rd

Rushing Offense: 9th

3rd Down Conversion %: 11th (54%)

Red Zone Scoring %: Tied 24th (93%)

Time of Possession: 94th

Auburn’s offense is under a completely new regime since the last time the two Tiger teams faced off. Auburn hired Head Coach Bryan Harsin and Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo this off-season. With the two being offensive-minded, they have worked together to bring a bunch of new schemes together for this Auburn offense. You’ll see a balance of the quarterback being both in shotgun and under center. You’ll also see much more of a mix between passing and rushing if things go Auburn’s way.

LSU’s main focus should be on shutting down Auburn’s elite rushing offense. Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter are some of the best running backs in the country. Each back separately has more rushing yards than LSU has as a team. Bigsby is the feature back, averaging about double the attempts of Hunter. Bigsby picks up yards at a high clip with 6.2 yards per attempt. He also brings a little bit more of a balanced runner, not bad at anything. Hunter comes in as a track runner that’s over 200 pounds and is a true home run hitter for the Auburn offense. He is averaging 10.6 yards per clip on 36 attempts. LSU will need Maason Smith and Damone Clark to carry over their play from last week. LSU’s linebackers will have their hands full, especially as a unit that has been struggling early this season.

Auburn's offensive line ranks pretty well, but the cracks have started to show as the level of opponents has risen over the last two weeks. They gave up three tackles for a loss against Penn State and five tackles for a loss to go with two sacks against Georgia State. This offensive line hasn’t faced anything to the level of LSU’s defensive line, who kept their spot as the NCAA’s sack leader despite rushing three defenders for a majority of the game. No opponent they’ve faced ranks in the top 70 in the country for tackles for a loss or the top 100 in sacks. LSU’s star-studded defensive line should be able to get to the backfield on both rushing and passing plays.

Arguably the worst part of Auburn's offense are its quarterbacks. Whether Bo Nix or TJ Finley get the nod to start the game, LSU should know exactly what they’re getting into. Bo Nix has faced the Bayou Bengals twice, and TJ Finley worked with a lot of LSU’s current staff members last year. Bo Nix doesn’t turn the ball over at a high clip, but just isn’t winning games for Auburn. He hasn’t thrown for over 200 yards since they faced bottom 15 defense Akron. Both Nix and Finley struggle under pressure, which as already addressed shouldn’t be an issue forcing. They also don’t yet have an alpha dog receiver to rely on in the passing game.

Auburn’s Defense Key Stats

*ranks are out of 130 (all stats courtesy of ESPN and NCAA)

Total Defense: Tied 18th

Passing Efficiency Allowed: 84th

Rushing Defense: 26th

3rd Down Conversion % Allowed: 50th (34.5%)

Turnovers Caused: Tied 86th

Sacks: Tied 32nd

Tackles for Loss: Tied 1st (with LSU)

Auburn brought in defensive coordinator Derek Mason this year to replace Kevin Steele, who had been one of the best in the country at countering LSU’s offense in the past few years. Mason is 0-2 against LSU, as he was formerly the Head Coach of Vanderbilt. Mason’s defense, like the offense, uses multiple schemes. He is known for being aggressive in stopping high-tempo spread offenses. When given top-level athletes, his defenses should never be taken lightly. 

The main position group to focus on with the Auburn defense is their linebackers. Some of the best players on the Auburn team are in this group. Zakoby McClain will be all over the field, as a well-balanced linebacker. TD Moultry could be a big impact player against a struggling LSU offensive line, as he leads the team in both sacks and tackles for a loss. Owen Pappoe is an absurd athlete who can never be counted out of a play. This is not an ideal group for LSU to hope to find their run defense groove against.

Mason likes to use two interior defensive linemen to stop the gaps in the run game. The front as a whole being very talented should not be surprising to anyone who has watched an Auburn game before. That’s their bread and butter, and it isn’t stopping now. 

LSU will most likely be relying on Max Johnson to win the game with his arm. Luckily for them, the secondary is the weakness of the team, as a big shakeup in the roster from last year has left them unable to find consistency. The talent is there for them, but we haven’t seen it completely come together yet. In a sense, this is what I think gives LSU the best path to success.

Bottom Line on Auburn

Strengths: Defensive front. Rushing attack.

Weakness: Passing offense. Passing defense.

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