Written by Ryan Lippert
As we head into week nine of the college football season, things are heating up in both the race for the College Football Playoff and the Southeastern Conference. Luckily for all of us college football fans, we have a huge matchup in the SEC West this weekend that will likely give us a clearer picture of where these races are headed. The Auburn Tigers bounced back after suffering their first loss of the season to Florida with a dominating 51-10 victory over Arkansas. However, they aren’t facing the Razorbacks or anything close to them this week. As they look to try to stay on the right track, Auburn will be facing their toughest task of the season as they go on the road against the second-best team in the country, the undefeated LSU Tigers. With that being said, let’s take a look at this week’s SEC Game of the Week between the LSU Tigers and the Auburn Tigers.
Joe Burrow Looks to Continue His Heisman Campaign
While LSU has been dominant in all phases of the game so far this season, their success undoubtedly starts at the quarterback position. Former Ohio State Buckeye, Joe Burrow, has set the college football world on fire this season. He has thrown for 2,484 yards, 29 touchdowns, and only three interceptions through seven games this season. This outstanding performance has not only led LSU to a 7-0 start but has also put him at the front of the Heisman race and in the first round draft pick discussion. He has benefited tremendously from three receivers with over 300 yards receiving each in Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall Jr. Jefferson leads the group with 48 receptions for 759 yards and nine touchdowns.
This weekend, all eyes will be on Burrow once again as they face an Auburn defense that has been stronger against the run than the pass. They have allowed 1,573 yards and ten touchdowns through the air, compared to only 660 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. This secondary have also only come away with three interceptions so far, ironically the same number Burrow has thrown all season. If this LSU offensive line can keep the impressive front seven of Auburn, led by defensive tackle Derrick Brown and defensive end Marlon Davidson, out of the backfield, Burrow should be set for another huge day.
Bo Nix Faces His Biggest Challenge of the Year
Much like their opponent, the Auburn Tigers have benefited from great quarterback play this season. True freshman Bo Nix has shown why he was regarded as the top dual-threat quarterback prospect in the country coming out of high school. Nix has thrown for 1,301 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions, while rushing for 210 yards and three touchdowns through the Tigers’ first seven games. His top target has been sophomore wide receiver, Seth Williams, who has 25 receptions for 458 yards and seven touchdowns in only six games. He also has junior wide receiver Eli Stove, who has 20 receptions for only 191 yards and two touchdowns so far, but is still a huge threat in the passing game.
While Nix has had a great season so far, he hasn’t faced a task like he will be asked to take on Saturday. Not only is he going into one of the most hostile environments in college football at Death Valley, but he is also one of the most talented defenses he will face all year. The pressure will be turned up a notch on Nix as I don’t see Auburn being able to run the ball. LSU has an impressive front seven that is led by senior defensive end Rashard Lawrence and stand out junior linebacker Jacob Phillips. This group has only allowed 653 total rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns through their first seven games. Sophomore running back JaTarvious Whitlow has had a decent year for Auburn so far, rushing for 544 yards and seven touchdowns, but I just don’t see him being able to get going this week.
As far as the secondary is concerned, LSU has allowed 1,583 total passing yards and 12 passing touchdowns this season. While those numbers don’t look very good, their secondary is still a threat to make big plays and create turnovers, as they have eight interceptions so far. It also helps that they have two potential 2020 first round draft picks in cornerback Kristian Fulton and safety Grant Delpit. They are joined by an outstanding freshman cornerback in Derek Stingley Jr., who looks like he could be the next great LSU defensive back. Stingley currently leads the team with three interceptions.
As I have already mentioned, this game has huge implications on the college football landscape. With a loss, Auburn would likely take themselves out of having any chance at both the College Football Playoff and the SEC Championship Game. However, if they were to pull off the upset, things would get very interesting, especially with both Auburn and LSU still having to play Alabama.
With all things being considered, I see Bo Nix being able to make some plays on offense to keep things close in the first half. However, overall talent and the hostile LSU crowd will take over the game in the second half. Joe Burrow will have another huge game as I don’t see Auburn’s defense having an answer for him. I also believe the LSU defense will step up when it matters down the stretch to make things very difficult on Nix and the Auburn offense to get going. The LSU Tigers will win this game 45-27 to remain undefeated and continue to put pressure on Alabama for the SEC West title race.