By SEAN DOYLE
CFRT SEC Contributor
Game of the Week
No. 6 LSU at No. 4 Auburn
Tiger on Tiger battle royale.
It’s the last two unbeaten teams in the SEC fighting it out to see who will claim sole possession of the SEC West division.
And if the winner survives the remaining games after Saturday, is their fate to only become just a roadblock for Alabama’s quest for a repeat championship?
LSU gets Alabama at home on Nov. 6 and Auburn travels to Tuscaloosa for the annual Iron Bowl at the end of the season on Nov. 26.
A lot will be revealed in this Saturday’s match up.
LSU has the best defense in the league, giving up only 242 yards per game and Auburn has one of the most explosive offenses in the country, leading the SEC in total offense with 481 yards per game.
But neither has faced a tougher counterpart to their strengths than the one they will line up across from on Saturday afternoon.
We will see just how accurate those statistical rankings are.
Will it be a stalemate in a battle of two immovable forces?
Or will a paper Tiger be exposed?
LSU leads the all time series between the two schools with a 24-19-1 advantage, and has won the past three meetings including last year’s 31-10 win in Baton Rouge.
Both quarterbacks for LSU, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, have each started against – and have beaten – the Auburn Tigers so far in their careers, but have yet to take the field opposite Cam Newton. Auburn coach Gene Chizik said avenging last year’s blowout has not been used as extra motivation for his team, but this game has been circled on many Auburn Tiger calendars.
Key to the Game
The key for LSU to win this game is to limit what Newton can do with his legs.
LSU will crowd the line of scrimmage with more guys than they can block and dare Newton to pass. Their secondary is capable enough to handle Auburn’s receivers in single coverage and jump balls put up by Newton.
The defensive front, linemen and linebackers, must be patient and control the line of scrimmage by closing down any gaps.
Newton is a patient runner that likes to sit back, waiting for holes to open up when assignments break down.
Auburn’s key to victory is to allow Newton to do what he does best – play with patience, not making mental errors.
Newton cannot allow himself to think he needs to do everything on his own.
LSU will be capable of stopping him if he does.
Newton must be able to distribute the ball and keep LSU guessing.
The ability to make quick and smart decisions will determine the level of Newton’s success.
When LSU has the ball they will be running their dual quarterback system.
Les Miles has not named a starter and they each will have their opportunities.
Auburn’s secondary is banged up for this game and that could mean Lee should have the most impact. Whoever is at quarterback needs to be able to control the tempo of the game, sustain long drives to help keep their defense fresh and Newton off the field.
No pressure guys, but when up against Newton, you may need every drive to end in a score!
I’m picking a Tiger to win this one!
Other SEC Match-Ups
Ole Miss at No. 23 Arkansas
The Nutt Bowl.
Houston Nutt was the head coach for 10 years at Arkansas before he bolted for the Ole Miss job.
There are still plenty of Hog faithful that love to see their former coach lose, especially after dropping the last two to his Rebels from Ole Miss.
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet suffered a concussion last week against Auburn, and it isn’t clear if he will play.
His replacement Tyler Wilson came in and he threw for 334 yards and four TDs.
I think it would be safe to say that regardless of who is calling the signals for Arkansas, we will see plenty of long completions and yards will light up the scoreboard like a pinball machine.
As long as Arkansas limits it to just one costly pick this week, they should have enough to overwhelm Ole Miss at home.
Georgia at Kentucky
It’s ‘Cats and ‘Dawgs SEC style!
Kentucky is fresh off their “signature” win over South Carolina and hoping they do not suffer the same letdown South Carolina went through after their “signature” victory over Alabama.
Georgia’s Mark Richt looks to have righted the ship and exorcised the ghost of UGA VII, scoring 83 points the last two weeks.
Georgia has the offensive firepower to beat Kentucky soundly, but can they rely on their defense to keep Kentucky from getting the ‘Cats offense rolling?
I say no, but this Bulldog offense is hitting its stride.
UAB at No.24 Mississippi State
Don’t look for a letdown after Mississippi State’s bulldozing of the Florida Gators last week.
This is the Bulldogs’ homecoming and second-year Head Coach Dan Mullen will have his team juiced for this game.
With a win, the Bulldogs become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007, and will have matched their overall wins from last year.
Mississippi State, 28-14.
No.8 Alabama at Tennessee
We should see what kind of coach the Vol’s Derek Dooley is in this game after a week off to evaluate the state of the Tennessee football program.
It would be a stretch to think they came up with a magic game plan to beat Alabama (look for moral victories for Dooley to build toward the future).
We all know what type of coach Alabama’s Nick Saban is.
We all expect that this team will not be taking anybody lightly from here on out, especially since the Tide needed a blocked field goal on the final play to beat the Volunteer’s in last year’s chapter in this rivalry.
A focused coach and a focused Crimson Tide squad do not bode well for Tennessee or the remainder of Alabama’s schedule for that matter.
This Rivalry is aptly named “The Third Saturday In October”; unfortunately it will also mean the third loss in October for the Volunteers.
No.21 South Carolina at Vanderbilt
What a strange trip it’s been this year in the SEC East.
Believe it or not, the winner of this game – yes between Vanderbilt and South Carolina – will be in first place in the SEC East and the only team in the division with just two losses.
They are also the only two teams in the SEC East to have beaten a team from the SEC West.
South Carolina will be trying to end their eight-game road losing streak.
Things could be tough for the Gamecocks if freshman running back Marcus Lattimore is not able to play. Last week, after Lattimore went out of the game with an ankle injury, South Carolina seemed to fall apart on offense and let a 28-10 lead over Kentucky slip away, losing 31-28.
Vandy has beaten South Carolina two out of last three meetings.
South Carolina, 31-17.