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From Death Valley, high-stakes SEC West action unfolds Saturday between the Auburn Tigers and LSU. Each team is vying for FBS playoff inclusion as Fall nights cover the college football landscape. After raising their offensive stock to new heights, along with an unforgiving trademark defense, LSU enters today’s contest unbeaten and ranked second nationally. Meanwhile, once-beaten Auburn realizes a loss Saturday ends their playoff and division championship drive.
Auburn used off week motivation to rebound from a crucial Florida loss before stamping host Arkansas 51-10. That performance showed Auburn at its best: offensively efficient and defensively aligned. Similarly, Heisman front-runner Joe Burrow toyed with Mississippi State last weekend as LSU dealt the Bulldogs a third-straight loss before tonight’s anticipated meeting.
While the LSU Tigers dismantled mutual SEC power Florida earlier this year, oddsmakers are setting LSU’s home line at -10.5. No doubt Auburn and Gus Malzahn feel slighted as double-figure underdogs.
LSU holds two consecutive victories over Auburn dating to 2017. Overall, the LSU Tigers are 30-22-1 all-time vs. Auburn.
Joe Burrow takes over Heisman raceBurrow’s transformation from serviceable SEC starting quarterback to nation’s top player has shaken the status quo. So, too has LSU’s current unbeaten run highlighted by wins over Florida and Texas. With Burrow taking center stage, passing for 29 touchdowns, 2,484 yards and a 79 percent completion rate the Tigers are college football’s current hot topic. Behind that momentum, Burrow has surpassed injured Tua Tagovailoa as odds-on favorite for Heisman honors. However, especially at the highest level, and with a road game vs. Alabama lurking, Burrow has serious obstacles to remain at the forefront.
And, this weekend, Auburn certainly cannot be overlooked.
But, with All American talent lining the LSU defense, gamers like Grant Delpit, JaCoby Stevens and Jacob Phillips, to name a few, won’t allow a letdown this Saturday.
Neither will Tigers coach Ed Orgeron. When asked on media day about this week’s showcase matchup, LSU’s sideline leader had these quotes, per 247 Sports:
“A little bit about Auburn. First of all, they are a very good football team, well-coached. We know a lot about them, they know a lot about us. It's going to be a war, a great game. A lot of those guys that we recruited, a lot of our recruits they recruited, all their coaches, typical great SEC matchup on Saturday afternoon.”
Beyond their #2 ranked offense (50.1 points per game) the Tigers own resolve, poise and leadership. These attributes make the Tigers’ double-digit spread seem right.
After Florida loss Auburn set to spoil LSU’s plansAuburn enters this weekend’s contest backed against a proverbial wall. Following an 11-point road loss vs. Florida two weeks ago, the momentum Auburn earned after beating Oregon is now in question. Opposite Florida, Bo Nix looked every bit the freshman as he completed just 11 of 27 passes while throwing three interceptions. Saturday, Nix will enter an entirely different arena vs. Delpit and LSU’s secondary.
Nix did bounce back and throw three confidence-boosting touchdowns last week vs. Arkansas. However, Death Valley rattles steeled veterans and Nix must prove he can operate under those conditions. More so, Auburn’s No. 16 nationally-ranked defense (17.1 points per game) will need all its resolve to contain LSU’s advance -but, even then Auburn would require big offensive breaks, and quarterback composure, to upset LSU.
Feeling slighted as a double-digit underdog, and taking his team’s overall state into consideration, Gus Malzahn had these quotes concerning Saturday’s LSU matchup, per 247 Sports:
”I’ve said this before: it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks, good or bad or in between, we’re taking it one game at a time, we’re staying focused with our head down, we’re not going to get distracted by anybody else’s opinion: good or bad.“
Auburn, of course, will be without top running back JaTarvious Whitlow. Whitlow (knee surgery) is out four-to-six weeks. Further playing against Auburn is the fact they haven’t won in LSU since 1999.
Malzahn on his program’s lengthy win-drought at Death Valley:
“I don’t have to bring it up because everybody else brings it up and our guys know. But, at the same time, just from a coach’s standpoint, every year is different. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. You’ve got an opportunity, you’ve got to go seize the opportunity. So, that’s really as simple as it gets as far as our approach.”
- Tigers are 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- Tigers are 12-3 ATS in their last 15 games in October.
- Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
- Tigers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
With LSU’s defense laser-focused and Burrow dissecting opposing secondaries, the Tigers are simply on another level than Auburn. That competitive divide will play out as LSU’s defense rattles Nix, turning the freshman over and setting Burrow up with prime field position.
From there, Burrow, and his offensive array, will score in spurts against Auburn’s resilient secondary and pass rush. Unfortunately for Malzahn’s men LSU’s strengths cancel Auburn’s best.
Prediction: LSU covers
Full-Game Total Pick
The outcome of Burrow’s passing game, combined with Nix’s struggles will see this contest go under in Death Valley. Minus a top playmaker, as the LSU fans roar, Auburn’s offense will be minimal. Meanwhile, LSU won’t put up their usual gaudy numbers vs. Auburn’s committed defenders: though they will prove too much as the final score shows after 60 minutes of intense college football.