LSU TIGERS AT AUBURN TIGERS
Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN (Play-by-play: Brad Nessler, Analysis: Todd Blackledge, Sideline: Holly Rowe)
Opening line: LSU -18.5 | Over/under: 48.5
Series History: LSU leads 24-20-1 | At Auburn: Auburn leads 10-6 | Last 10: LSU leads 6-4
Last meeting: LSU 45, Auburn 10, Oct. 22, 2011, at Baton Rouge, La.
LSU TIGERS (3-0, 0-0 SEC)
Head coach: Les Miles (78-18 at LSU, 106-39 overall) | Record vs. Auburn: 5-2
Offensive coordinator: Greg Studrawa (multiple) | Defensive coordinator: John Chavis (4-3)
This season has been a cakewalk for LSU, and the Tigahs have the stats to prove it. In three games, LSU is averaging a 48-10 victory. Les Miles' squad averages 472 yards of total offense, including and SEC-best 269 on the ground. On defense, the Tigers are giving up just 205 yards per game, which also leads the conference. LSU hasn't had the most difficult schedule to date -- home games against North Texas, Washington and Idaho -- but the results are impressive, nonetheless.
In its last game out against the Vandals, LSU took a 28-14 lead into the locker room at halftime and rolled to a 63-14 victory. The Tigers outgained Idaho, 472-213, and held their visitors from the Potato State to 3 of 14 on third-down conversions. Kenny Hilliard rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns, and Zach Mettenberger was 17 of 22 for 222 yards, an interception and a pair of scores.
KEY TIGERS ON OFFENSE
Kenny Hilliard, RB -- Hilliard leads the LSU two-headed rushing attack. He was used sparingly last season and gained 336 yards. This year he has already rushed for 303 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 8.19 yards per carry. At 6'0" and 230 pounds, Hilliard is the kind of back that can wear down opposing defensive linemen and linebackers.
Alfred Blue, RB --
Blue is the second head of the rushing attack and is almost as dangerous. He has received a few more carries than Hilliard -- 40-37 -- but he hasn't been quite as impressive -- 270 yards, 6.75 per carry, two touchdowns. Blue is a little thinner than Hilliard at 6'2", 220, but he can still pick up big yards in LSU's power running game. Having two backs as capable as Hilliard and Blue gives the Tigers a big advantage over most teams. Blue was actually injured in the Idaho game and will miss Saturday's tussle in Auburn. Expect to see Jeremy Hill, Michael Ford and Spencer Ware as candidates to be the "two" in LSU's one-two punch running attack.
Zach Mettenberger, QB -- With such a great running game, LSU could almost go without a quarterback. Well, we did see how that worked out against Alabama in the BCS Championship Game. Mettenberger seems to be a big upgrade over Jordan Jefferson. He hasn't been asked to do a lot this season, but he's done it well. Mettenberger only averages 202 yards per game, but he has completed 72 percent of his passes. That's what you want from a game manager, and that's exactly what Mettenberger is.
KEY TIGERS ON DEFENSE
Sam Montgomery, DE -- Montgomery is a monster at the end of the line, checking in at 6'5" and 260 pounds. Like most of LSU's top defenders, he hasn't been given much work against the light schedule so far, but last year's stats prove how good Montgomery is. He finished 2011 with 49 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Montgomery was named to the preseason watch list for just about every major defensive award.
Barkevious Mingo, DE -- On the other side of the D-line sits Mingo. He's a little smaller -- 6'5," 240 -- and more of a rush end. Mingo's numbers in 2011 were nearly identical to Montgomery's -- 46 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, seven sacks. These two players will be a handful for Auburn's freshmen offensive tackles.
Eric Reid, S -- Quarterback Kiehl Frazier will have to be aware of Reid at all times, or he'll make the young quarterback miserable. Tyrann Mathieu received all the hype last season, but Reid was the best player in LSU's vaunted secondary. He had 76 tackles and was a player most quarterback attempted to avoid. Reid was named preseason All-SEC and preseason All-American before the 2012 season.