AUBURN AT LSU
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. PT
Las Vegas Line: LSU -7
Auburn’s dreadful performance Week 2 took some of the air out of this Top 25, SEC matchup. Still, the Tigers — the Plains variety, that is — can quickly get back on track with their first win in Death Valley since 1999.
They’ll have to do so with the oppression of 92,400 rabid LSU fans in Tiger Stadium wearing on them, as well as some brutal weather.
“It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be humid, and number of plays will be a factor,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said on the SEC teleconference call.
Ninety-four degrees and 56 percent humidity, but who’s counting?
As for number of plays, Auburn’s uptempo typically thrives on running in excess of 80 snaps. Against Jacksonville State, the Tigers ran 70 with an overtime period.
Turnovers cut into the snaps Auburn has taken, with quarterback Jeremy Johnson giving away five interceptions in two games.
Malzahn praised Johnson’s practice in preparation for LSU. Considerable strides from the hyped quarterback are vital; the quarterback between these two that’s improved the most will lead his team to a win.
For LSU, it’s Brandon Harris. Harris’ numbers were pedestrian at best vs. Mississippi State last week: 9-of-14 for 79 yards with no touchdowns. Running back Leonard Fournette did the heavy-lifting, but Auburn’s better equipped to load up on the talented LSU running back than Mississippi State.
That puts the onus offensively on Harris, who was dreadful against Auburn a season ago (3-of-14).
“It’s a completely different guy,” Miles said of Harris now as opposed to last year’s 41-7 loss at Auburn. “It’s somebody who’s taken snaps and played in games and really been through a spring and early fall: 29 practices as our starter. He’s a much different player than the player who took the field at Auburn.”
I have my concerns about Harris, but Fournette gives LSU just enough offensive punch to capitalize when the defense forces Auburn into mistakes — and it will force Auburn into mistakes.