LSU at Auburn

The Sports Xchange

September 12, 2018 at 5:13 pm.

KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.
SERIES: LSU leads 28-23-1. LSU won 27-23 in 2017.
RANKINGS: Auburn No. 7, LSU No. 12

–QB Joe Burrow has shown signs of being an effective leader in the first two games, showing poise, making good decisions and staying away from bad plays. He has made a few big plays, but now he’s going to have to make plays with his arm and legs. He has been able to ease into this role the first two weeks. Now he has to show he can make plays to win on the road against a Top 10 opponent.

–RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire has to emerge as a dependable complement to Nick Brossette, who will be counted on to get the tough yards, but LSU will need multiple backs to be effective in this game. Edwards-Helaire has to be effective as the change-of-pace, catch-the-ball-out-of-the-backfield guy to make things easier for Burrow.

–DL Rashard Lawrence needs to get into the Auburn backfield. This LSU defensive line has a chance to be special and Lawrence is one of the most talented players on it. One of the quickest ways to disrupt Gus Malzahn’s offense is to get in the backfield and interfere with the running game and pressure Jarrett Stidham. Lawrence is the guy most capable of doing that — or attracting double teams and presenting opportunities for teammates to do it.

–CB Greedy Williams got his first interception of the season last week, and getting one this week would be huge. If either team has an advantage in turnovers, that could decide the game. Williams made six interceptions last season.


–RB JaTarvious Winslow is making a big splash as a redshirt freshman. After scoring the decisive touchdown on a 10-yard run in the 21-16 win over Washington in the opener, he recorded his first 100-yard rushing game with 14 carries for 122 yards against Alabama State. It could be a tough grind against LSU, which has held its first two opponents to 148 yards combined on the ground.

–RB Shaun Shivers, a true freshman, could provide depth at running back against LSU behind junior Kam Martin and Winslow. Shivers rushed for 117 yards on just 13 carries against Alabama State after getting only one carry for a 7-yard gain against Washington the week before.

–DT Dontavious Russell is looking for a big season, and this could be the opportunity he is seeking to establish himself as an all-SEC candidate. He had only two tackles in limited time against Alabama State, but he made them pay off with a sack-and-a-half to his credit.

–SS Daniel Thomas intercepted two passes in a game for the second time in his career in the rout of Alabama State. Thomas returned his first 29 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. “He’s a football player,” coach Gus Malzahn said. “Stick his foot in the ground and two impact plays. He scored on the one and the other one led to points.” Thomas also has been known to fill in at nickel back in addition to starting at safety.


LSU and Auburn may be playing an elimination game in the SEC West Division race when they clash Saturday.

Kickoff for the nationally televised game (CBS) at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn is 3:30 p.m. ET.

Technically, of course, the winner will have only one leg up in the race and the loser will be far from eliminated. But the loser also will be effectively two games back in the race with the winner holding the tiebreaker.

Both will have later dates with conference and division favorite Alabama — Auburn on Nov. 24 in Tuscaloosa and LSU at home in Tiger Stadium on Nov. 3.

Both teams enter 2-0 after posting noteworthy wins over ranked opponents in their openers — Auburn 21-16 over No. 10 Washington and LSU 33-17 over No. 21 Miami — and follow-up routs of FCS foes last week.

LSU beat Southeastern Louisiana 31-0 and was rewarded with a No. 12 ranking this week. Auburn is No. 7 after its 63-9 trouncing of Alabama State.

“Any time LSU and Auburn get together, it’s going to be big,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “And then, of course, it’s obviously the home opener in the SEC West.”

The two teams have alternated wins on their own turf since LSU ran off a three-win streak that included a win at Auburn in 2012. That would seem to be a point in Auburn’s favor for this meeting.

“It is a tremendous advantage to play at home,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “Being a great football team, you have to win on the road. You have to win on the road in the SEC in hostile environments.

“We have to go up there and play very good. It’s going to be 60 minutes and it’s going to be an all-out battle. This is a better football team than Miami. We know that. It’s a big rivalry.”

It figures to be a bruising matchup as well.

“This goes way back in history that whenever LSU and Auburn get together, it’s going to be a physical game,” Malzahn said. “They know that, we know that. It’s always a good one, so the intensity will be very high.”

After rushing for only 147 yards against the Huskies, Auburn got back to its usual rushing level with 429 yards in the win over Alabama State. Junior Kam Martin is the starter at running back, but redshirt freshman JaTarvious Winslow is the leading rusher with 150 yards and a 6.8 per-carry average.

He and freshman Shaun Shivers both posted 100-yard rushing games against Alabama State, with Winslow going for 124 and Shivers 117.

“He’s really impressed us in scrimmages,” Malzahn said of Shivers. “He’s a tough guy. He’s a real physical guy, even though he’s not big in stature. He really runs hard, and low to the ground. He did a good job when he was in there.”

In all, freshmen accounted for 358 yards of Auburn’s 429 rushing total against Alabama State.
“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.”

LSU, which has received 100-yard rushing games out of Nick Brossette both times out, hopes to get off to another strong start and finish stronger after fading near the end of its first two games. After building a 33-3 lead over Miami, LSU gave up two late touchdowns. Against Southeastern Louisiana, LSU led 24-0 at the half and scored only one more time in the second half.

“There will be a lot of things we have to face this week,” Orgeron said. “First of all, we have to fix ourselves.
“There’s some things that we can fix. There are some technical errors that we can fix.”