By Jeff Palermo
Two teams with coaches on the hot seat meet on the Plains on Saturday, as 18th ranked LSU visits Auburn. The Fighting Tigers are 2-1, 1-0 in the SEC and a loss in this game will again raise the question whether the program is heading in the right direction.
Many in Auburn already believe their program is on the decline. Gus Malzahn led the War Eagles to the BCS Championship game in 2013, but heading into Saturday's game they've lost seven straight games at home against Power 5 teams. Auburn is 3-12 against Power 5 teams overall in the last 15 games.
Auburn has struggled to put points on the board this season. Their offense has been void of big plays. Quarterback Sean White has thrown just one interception, but he's thrown for only 510 yards in three games. John Franklin III could see playing time under center as well. He completed four passes for 37 yards last week.
Auburn leads the SEC in rushing, averaging 262 yards a game. They rushed for 462 yards against Arkansas State in Week 2. Kenyon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway are leading the way on the ground. Johnson has rushed for 278 yards and four touchdowns, while Pettway is averaging nearly 8 yards a carry
LSU running back Leonard Fournette rushed for a career-high 228 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-21 win over Auburn last year. Auburn's defense goes into this game committed to slowing down Fournette.
On paper, it looks like LSU should have success rushing the passer. Auburn has allowed nine sacks in three games, while the Tigers have sacked the opposing quarterback on 11 occasions.
If it's a close game, Auburn has an outstanding field goal kicker. Junior Daniel Carlson is a Lou Groza Finalist and had has made 83% of his kicks in his career and he's converted 24 of his last 25 field goal attempts.
LSU has struggled to score points at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The last time they scored more than 20 in this venue was 2008, when Jarrett Lee sparked the Bayou Bengals to a 26-21 victory. 1994 was the previous time they put more than 20 on the board. That occurred in a 30-26 loss.
I'm expecting another tight game on Saturday, but LSU somehow gets it done..winning 21-17.