This much we know: LSU will face Auburn in a battle of unbeaten football teams at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
This much we know: LSU will face Auburn in a battle of unbeaten football teams at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. One of them will emerge with an unblemished record.
Beyond that, there’s no making sense of this topsy-turvy season. Parity is such that the country’s No. 1 team has fallen each of the past two weeks.
Equality is so prevalent that even a Football Championship Subdivision team such as McNeese State can be competitive with then-No. 9 LSU. That was the case last Saturday, as the Cowboys actually took a 10-7 lead before finally succumbing, 32-10.
Unpredictably is the norm and the reason that most anything will be possible when LSU visits Auburn. After all, this is a series steeped in the history of the bizarre. Furthermore, LSU is known for unusual antics such as its game-winning clock mismanagement against Tennessee and its fake field goal against Florida this season.
The same is true of Auburn, which has won three games by a field goal. Under the second-year tutelage of Gene Chizik, it only made sense that Auburn would be a hard-nosed, close-to-the-vest team under its former defensive coordinator. We should have known better. That’s trying to bring order to a discipline such as college football that can’t be stereotyped.
Far from being a low-scoring, rock-solid force, Auburn is an offensive juggernaut that simply outscores the opposition. Trailing Arkansas in the fourth quarter last week, 43-37, Auburn reeled off four touchdowns in the span of about five minutes. At the heart of the outburst was quarterback Cam Newton, who is the new Tim Tebow now that the former Florida quarterback has moved onto the NFL.
The multi-talented, and multi-faceted Newton, is the major reason Auburn is 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference Western Division. LSU shares similar records, as it moved up three spots to sixth in the latest Associated Press Top 25, where it is sandwiched in between Auburn and Alabama. After an open date next week, LSU will entertain Alabama on Nov. 6.
While Newton drives an Auburn machine that leads the league in offense (481..1 yards per game), LSU benefits from a defense that ranks first in the SEC overall (242.1), against the run (83.6 ypg) and against the pass (158.6).
LSU has plenty of skill offensively, too, but often misfires because of mistakes that ruin what continuity it might have.
Lately, LSU seems to have found a much-needed boost in junior quarterback Jarrett Lee, who has come off the bench the last three games to share time with junior Jordan Jefferson. Although he is no Newton, Lee has more than earned the right to start.
Lee is responsible for the emergence of senior wide receiver Terrence Toliver, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass against Florida and distinguished himself with a one-handed, sideline grab against McNeese State.
Far from locking in on one receiver, Lee has spread the ball around, which keeps everyone happy and makes for more efficiency. For instance, sophomore wide receiver Russell Shepard established career highs with seven catches for 53 yards against the Cowboys.
Shepard was so ballyhooed out of high school that he might have been mistaken as the second coming of Tebow.
That wasn’t the case, but LSU has made better use of him this season after all but squandering his talent last year.
As for Tebow-less Florida, it has fallen on hard times thanks in part to LSU’s stirring 33-29 victory two weeks ago.
Florida followed that with a 10-7 loss to Mississippi State in yet another game that defied logic.
Mississippi State second-year coach Dan Mullen once served as offensive coordinator for Tebow and the high-powered Gators. Maybe it was Mullen’s background that allowed him to devise a plan to hand the Gators their third consecutive loss.
For all the crazy nature of past events, the LSU-Auburn showdown gives indication that the best is yet to come.