The biggest game of the weekend sees the No. 9 Auburn Tigers and their 6-1 record look to stay alive in the SEC West race as they travel to Baton Rouge to take on the No. 2 ranked LSU Tigers and their undefeated record.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Stop Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow might be the Heisman Trophy clubhouse leader right now. With Tua Tagovailoa sidelined and Jalen Hurts busy beating up on nobodies in the Big 12, Burrow has put together a monster season at the QB position in Baton Rouge.
Burrow set a LSU record for touchdown passes in a season on Saturday against Mississippi State when he tossed his 29th six-point completion of the year. To do that in just seven games is a remarkable achievement, with Burrow passing for 327 yards and four scores against the Bulldogs. The key to stopping Burrow is getting to him – a tough task given the sensational LSU offensive line – but Auburn has the horses on the defensive line to make Burrow’s day a nightmare if they all play at a level close to their very best.
Control the clock
One way to stop Burrow’s passing onslaught is by keeping him off the field as much as possible by controlling the clock and the tempo of the game. Auburn runs the ball on 62.5 percent of its snaps, a much higher number than the 46.0 percent of the time that LSU goes with a rushing play. This vast difference means that the clock will keep going while Auburn is on the field and that any drive that includes three or four first downs (at a minimum) will make a huge difference in how this game plays out.
It is hard to power run on LSU, but the Bayou Bengals can be attacked sideline to sideline. Expect to see a bunch of off-tackle runs and short passes to receivers and tight ends coming across the middle as Auburn looks to sustain drives and frustrate the LSU offense.
Win the turnover battle
Turnovers are going to be massive. Auburn is around a 10-point dog depending on where you look. Assuming that three-point or so of that is home field advantage, then LSU is expected to be basically a touchdown better than Auburn.
Bo Nix cannot afford to turn the ball over and give LSU extra possessions for Burrow to work with. On the other hand, any big play by the Auburn defense – and we have seen plenty of them this season – that can give the offense a short field to grind through will be a massive positive. Auburn wins if the turnover margin is +2 or more in its favor.