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Staff Picks - #9 Auburn @ #2 LSU

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It’s time for the biggest game of the year... again.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Auburn at Arkansas Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tomorrow we make our way down to Baton Rouge for yet another top ten matchup on the road. Auburn will be trying to break a 20-year losing streak in Death Valley, but the task at hand this season may be the toughest one yet.

Auburn @ LSU (-12.5) (O/U 58)

I don’t like this one because I am torn. On one hand, my Auburn head tells me that LSU is the home team, so Auburn is done for. My Auburn head has also seen this offense, which is weak where the Auburn defense is really good (the running game) and freaking strong where Auburn has questions (the secondary). On the other side of the ball, Auburn has the offense that can make this a shootout but will Gus be able to make the play calls to keep up with an LSU team that can hang points in bunches? The good news for Auburn is that this game is in the light and that stadium, while really dangerous, is historically different in the day time. Who knows, maybe the fans can’t get SO into the sauce. Now my Auburn heart thinks that we have them right where we want them. They are undefeated and we had an off week and slept through the first half of the Arkansas game and still punished the Hogs, while LSU was ho-hum against a bad State team. I think LSU wins this one on a last gasp TD because why not but they definitely don’t cover. (However, I can see Auburn pulling this out...its a long shot, but its a shot)

LSU wins but no cover, 35-31 and the over

-Drew Mac

Rainy forecast helps Auburn, I think? My head leans one way, but my heart leads the right way. Auburn 33, LSU 28.

-Josh Dub

Ugh. I just don’t see a way we do this one without (a) Burrow having his worst day of the season, (2) Bo basically recreating the MSU game or 2nd half of the Arkansas game, and (d) Auburn winning the turnover battle by 3 or more. I think LSU keeps us at arm’s length, but they never feel comfortable until a late front-door cover. LSU 34, Auburn 21 (LSU covers, under)

-James Jones

Ah this feels familiar…the belly of the beast, the bane of Auburn’s existence, the place where dreams (along with field goals, clock management, and 20-point leads) go to die…Death Valley. This is the first time this season where what Auburn does will not completely dictate victory. As Gus Malzahn has said, LSU is extremely worthy of their ranking. This will be the toughest contest of the season for us, based on talent, scheme, and location of the game.

Keys to Victory:

Fast start on offense, particularly on the ground. Auburn is going to need to rush for over 150 yards in this game, and they cannot afford to wait until the 3rd quarter to make adjustments to figure it out. I expect DJ Williams to start seeing the ball in the 2nd half if we’re in this thing, to give us some fresh legs. So Kam Martin is going to have to get it done early.

No turnovers on the road. This goes without saying.

Average to above average play out of Bo Nix coupled by point #1 on running the football. If he’s able to do that without a turnover, Auburn will have a chance to win this game.

Get Joe Burrow’s jersey dirty. The most telling reason why LSU beat Florida was Burrow’s interview after the game. Not the interview itself, but how he looked. His hair was dry. His jersey was lily white. Dirty that thing up Saturday, because he hasn’t felt real pressure all year. You don’t complete 80% of your passes with consistent pass rush in your face. Time to step up, Nick Coe and TD Moultry.

Make LSU drive the length of the field. No shame in punting, but field position is going to be key in forcing some more conservative play calling out of LSU’s offense.

Catch them off guard with a special teams play/onside kick. While we need to play the field position game overall, if there’s something on film that LSU is showing us, use it. Extend a drive.

I expect Auburn to lose this game. That being said, there’s a part of me that feels like something is going on in Lee County this week where I don’t question that we are going to show up and surprise this bunch on the Bayou. It’s possible. It’s not even unlikely knowing we are the most complete, and healthy, defense LSU has seen. But I’m going with my head over my gut here. LSU 28 Auburn 20.

-Josh Black

I’ll be the first to admit that I pick Auburn a lot more than I should BUT this is the one week that I’ve told myself for weeks in which I can’t do it. After being in Baton Rouge 2 years ago to see Auburn blow a 20-0 lead, I’ve wondered what is it gonna take for Auburn to win there again? And now LSU has an offense, a really good offense. They put 42 points on Florida a few weeks ago and last week’s 36 point outing against Miss State was their lowest of the season. But their defense has a few holes in them as they’ve been susceptible to giving up points (like 38!! to Vandy). With rain in the forecast, it would be huge for Auburn to be able to establish some kind of running game. I would love for this to be a breakout game for D.J. Williams or Shaun Shivers. Also, when you get the ball to Anthony Schwartz, good things happen. Let’s keep doing that! As for Bo Nix, he didn’t play well in Gainesville but here’s another road environment that will be an extremely tough challenge for him and my hope is he’ll take the lessons from the Swamp and apply them to Death Valley.

Auburn is the last hurdle that stands in the way of a potential #1 vs #2 game in a few weeks and you know what that means. Don’t leave the games in the hands of the officiating. I’m all about chaos obviously and ruining this for the SEC, BUT I haven’t been able to convince myself that Auburn is going to win this weekend. I would LOVE nothing more than to be wrong though.

LSU 35 Auburn 24, LSU Wins, Auburn Covers

-Will McLaughlin

Auburn has not won in Death Valley in 20 years

Gus Malzahn is 0-9 on the road vs LSU, UGA & BAMA

Gus Malzahn is 0-2 vs Ed Orgeron

Former 5* WR Terrance Marshall is expected back for LSU while AU will be playing without starting RB Boobee Whitlow

Joe Burrow is ranked #2 in passing efficiency in the country. Bo Nix is #63

LSU’s defense is only allowing 2.9 yards per carry

Nothing about this matchup, outside of Auburn’s dominant DL, says the Tigers should win this game. LSU’s offense is built to attack Auburn’s weaknesses on defense (quick passing attack that likes to use the middle of the field) & a defense lead by a coordinator that has consistently dominated Gus Malzahn (Dave Aranda is 3-1 vs Gus with only loss happening in 2016 when AU didn’t score a TD). That’s why for the first time all season, I have to pick agai--

Uh excuse me Takeo.. I am attempting to provide the readers here with a fair, objective analysis of Saturday’s matchup which means that I have to pick LSU to be--

Look... I want it to happen. 20 years feels like a nice round number to end a curse. It would be a hell of a reward for the seniors that decided to pass on the NFL Draft & come back. Auburn’s DL is more than capable of giving LSU a test they haven’t seen yet & AU has the offensive weapons to put some points on the board. But cmon, Mr. Spikes. Do you really think AU will go into Baton Rouge, LA & beat the #2 ranked LSU Tigers with a true freshman QB? I mean that would be ins--

DURN RIGHT! BARN HARD TILL I DIE!

Bo Nix announces himself to the CFB world that his time as an inefficient, inconsistent freshman is over & he’s here to wreck defenses. Auburn’s 5 senior OL put together their strongest performance of their careers opening up lanes for a multitude of backs leading to 250+ rushing yards. Anthony Schwartz & Seth Williams both score long TDs including a late game winner. Auburn’s D forces 3 turnovers & sacks Burrow 5+ times. DRUNK CORNDOGS CRY EVERYWHERE. WAR DAMN EAGLE Auburn 38 LSU 34

-AU Nerd

I’ve won the past two weeks and it’s because we are getting to the point of the season where chaos reigns supreme. I ride the wave of chaos better than anyone on this site, is what I’m trying to say. Chaos itself is the primordial soup from which sprouts order, according to Nietzsche. Due respect to Friedrich, but chaos isn’t a means to an end. It is the end. College football is devolving, not evolving, this season. Nothing would prove my point than for footballs agents of chaos, the Barbarians to college football Romans everywhere—your auburn tigers— to get out of Red Stick with a win on Saturday. Let’s do it. Auburn 31, LSU 30.

-Son of Crow

I’ve had this one chalked up as a loss since the preseason, although at that point we didn’t know the quality of the LSU passing game. Sure, there’s ways I could talk myself into Auburn winning this one. I could talk about Auburn being the best defense LSU has faced, and how their offensive line has significant problems run blocking. I could also tell you LSU’s pass defense is #42 in success rate and #47 in explosive play rate, meaning Bo could have a chance to make some plays here.

But the fact of the matter is Auburn doesn’t win at LSU. Auburn fights hard and covers, but the lack of an established run game means Bo has the entire offense in his hands. 21-30 Purple Tigers.

-Ryan Sterritt

I said in a preseason pod that this was gonna be the year. 20 years is quite long enough. I’m not going back in that. Auburn is about to go into Death Valley and pull their biggest upset in a long time. I think these boys are locked in and ready to go. I think Auburn wins the turnover battle, and that wins them the game and launches them into the CFP discussion.

Good Guy Tigers 35 - Bad Guy Tigers 26

-AU Chief

Look. Here’s the deal. Don’t count on me to give you any sort of real, tangible football analysis. I can’t tell you why Auburn’s going to upset LSU tomorrow, but I can tell you that it’ll happen. There, I may have ruined the suspense, but we’re at the time of the season where there’s no need for suspense. We have to get this going now.

Things happen in this game that shouldn’t. Things happen in this game that can’t be explained. Things happen that go well beyond the realm of reality. National championship bids have been ruined before. They’ve also been made before. Tomorrow’s going to give us a piece of the former. I’m not saying that Auburn’s good enough to win the title this year, but we’re certainly going to give the Bayou Bengals a little taste of their own medicine, some thirty-odd years in the making.

Yeah, the number that everyone focuses on is the 20-year losing streak. Auburn roasted LSU, smoked cigars, sent Gerry Dinardo out of town and let them hire some guy named Nick Saban. Maybe we shouldn’t have done that. A simple two-touchdown win would’ve sufficed, and maybe that Saban guy wouldn’t be around. Eh. It happened.

However, something that you can’t forget is what happened on October 8th, 1988. LSU scored a last second touchdown to beat Auburn 7-6 and ruin Pat Dye’s bid for a national championship. Win that game and Auburn probably plays Notre Dame for the title. Instead, it was a letdown game against Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. After losing, the Tigers were so mad that they shut out the next three opponents and allowed just 28 points the rest of the regular season. We’re getting something similar here in 2019.

Bo Nix and company had to grind out a win over Oregon, and we saw flashes of what can be in the wins over Texas A&M and Mississippi State. Oregon might be the best team we’ve played so far, and we did it. We won. We’ll grind one out tomorrow too. There may be turnovers, and there may be doubt, but in the second half, you’ll notice a very human chill flutter through the hearts of the bourbon-drenched masses in Tiger Stadium. It ain’t the liquor. It’ll be the fear and knowledge that things are slipping away. Auburn wins tomorrow. I don’t know how, and I don’t know the specifics, but I’m calling it. 31-27. Good Tigers.

-Jack Condon