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Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attendance: 101,601
No. 10 Auburn begins tough road stretch against LSU
Auburn Tigers at LSU Tigers
- Auburn and LSU have split the last four games in this series after LSU had taken five of the previous six meetings. This will be the first time since the 2000 season that LSU will not have been ranked in the AP Top 25 at the time of its game versus Auburn.
- Auburn has put up 40 or more points in three straight games. This is its longest such streak since it had 40+ points in three consecutive games, October 12-26, 2013.
- Kerryon Johnson ran for three touchdowns in last week's win over Ole Miss. He now has 11 rushing TDs over Auburn's last three games; prior to Johnson, the last FBS player to have 11+ rushing TDs over a three-game span (team games) was Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon (11), October 24-November 7, 2015.
- LSU is 4-0 this season when it wins the time of possession battle, compared to 0-2 when it loses that battle. It held the ball for 33:50 in last week's victory over Florida.
- Danny Etling has been picked off just once this season. His 0.8 percent interception rate in 2017 is a significant improvement over his career rate entering this season (2.4%).
- Nebraska has first practice under Frost
- Utah RB Shyne again on comeback trail
- AAC, ACC create officiating alliance
- McKnight's killer sentenced to 30 years
- Gundy offers to pay for school security
When No. 10 Auburn visits LSU on Saturday, both sets of Tigers will have something to prove.
After losing to No. 2 Clemson and handling an otherwise relatively soft schedule, Auburn (5-1, 3-0) aims to prove worthy of its ranking and should be taken seriously as an SEC and College Football Playoff contender. This game is the first of three straight SEC road games.
After being routed by Mississippi State in its SEC opener and being stunned by Troy, LSU beat then-No. 21 Florida on the road last week. Now a second consecutive victory against a ranked team would show that LSU (4-2, 1-1) is an SEC contender despite the slow start.
Auburn has won four in a row since the 14-6 loss at Clemson. The last three have come against SEC opponents Missouri, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, who have a combined conference record of 1-7 with the only victory being Mississippi State's 37-7 victory against LSU.
"Our message has been each week to get better, and the last three weeks I feel like we've done that," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "I told our team we have not arrived and that I will let them know when we arrive."
After visiting LSU, where Auburn has lost eight consecutive games, Auburn travels to Arkansas, has an open date and visits Texas A&M. The next home game is Nov. 11 against No. 4 Georgia and two weeks later, Auburn hosts No. 1 Alabama.
"The meat of our schedule is coming up," Malzahn said.
Auburn's only road games have been against defending national champion Clemson and Missouri.
"It's going to be a long stretch not playing (at home), but we're ready for it," Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham told AL.com. "We're a very confident team right now. We're jelling at the right time, but we're not complacent. Obviously, we've had some really good games the last couple of weeks."
Auburn has scored at least 44 points in each of the SEC wins. Kerryon Johnson has scored 11 of his nation-leading 12 touchdowns in those games, and Stidham has completed 79.1 percent of his passes in the last four games.
"We knew we were underachieving the first couple of weeks," Johnson told AL.com. "That's almost 50 points for three straight weeks; that's a pretty good stride."
So is the performance of Auburn's defense, which ranks in the Top 25 nationally in most defensive categories, including No. 6 in scoring defense.
LSU hopes it started to hit its stride in the victory against Florida. After the loss to Mississippi State, LSU had trouble shaking off Syracuse before prevailing 35-26, and then lost to Troy.
That three-game stretch had many supporters questioning whether LSU made a mistake when it hired Ed Orgeron as its full-time head coach after last season. Orgeron had been promoted from defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator to interim head coach after an 18-13 loss at Auburn dropped LSU to 2-2 last season. The team went 6-2 under Orgeron.
"We gave it all we had all week," Orgeron said of the bounce-back win at Florida. "It was every ounce of energy, every person in the building gave it. And that's what it takes, and our mindset was of that.
"And we finally galvanized as a team. I don't think before we were playing as a team. I think we galvanized as a staff. I think that was important. We had better practices."
LSU running backs Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams have been hobbled by leg injuries, but both should be ready to go Saturday.
Guice, who led the SEC in rushing last season, has not had a 100-yard game since Sept. 9.
"Is he hurting? Yes," Orgeron said of Guice. "Is he limited right now? Yes. But he is getting better."
So too is defensive end Rashard Lawrence, who has been nagged by ankle injuries most of the season. Fellow end Frank Herron will make his season debut after being sidelined for an undisclosed reason.
With LSU getting key players back, it has a chance to show it's a better team than it was in its two losses. This game is also a chance for Auburn to show it's in the upper tier of teams in the SEC and the country.
Updated October 10, 2017
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Published: 2015-05-28 13:51:00
Updated: 2016-07-13 10:41:59
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