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Week 4 - LSU at Auburn
Posted Sep 19, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – LSU at Auburn

LSU (3-0) at Auburn (1-2) Sept. 22 , 7:00, ESPN

Here’s The Deal: For all the talk about Gene Chizik potentially being on a hot seat after a mediocre 2011 and a rocky 1-2 start, it can all go bye-bye with one really, really big upset win. There are big games – and Alabama is still going to be out there for Chizik and the Tigers to make up for any sins from this year – and there are games like this that can potentially define the direction of a program. However, the problem is that no matter what happens, there will probably be an overreaction.

Even if Auburn plays well and loses, the record will still be 1-3 with Arkansas, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama still to deal with. If Auburn gets blown out – like it probably should against a vastly superior team – then the fuel will be added to the fire that Chizik might not have things on the right track; even though he has a few great recruiting classes waiting to mature. But if Auburn wins, with six of the next eight games at home, the expectations will be ramped up.

LSU is toying with teams over the first three games. No, the Tigers haven’t been as sharp or as focused as Alabama, but the offense is a machine ripping out 146 points in the first here games and the defense has been more than fine. Along with the Tide, LSU is playing at a whole other level, but this is the first road game of the year and it’s still an SEC game – Auburn isn’t Idaho.

With a trip to Florida up next on the conference slate and South Carolina, at Texas A&M, Alabama and Mississippi State to follow, this is the breather for LSU in conference play until getting Ole Miss in mid-November. If these Tigers are the real deal, they should destroy the other Tigers without much of a problem.

Why LSU Might Win: The Auburn offense has been awful. Quarterback Kiehl Frazier hasn’t progressed as quickly as expected, and while the running game has been solid, it hasn’t made up for the problems in the passing attack that’s not getting anything going deep. LSU’s defensive front seven should be able to erase Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb, so unless Frazier can start being far more accurate and far more consistent in a hurry, the Tiger O won’t go anywhere.

Mistakes have been a big, big problem with nine turnovers in the first three weeks and just two takeaways. LSU has given the ball away once in each of the first three games and has come up with seven takeaways with four picks against Idaho last week. Auburn has to be perfect to keep this close, and it won’t be.

Why Auburn Might Win: Can the pass rush be a problem? It hasn’t been special so far, but it’s been good enough to provide steady pressure into the backfield and be disruptive. LSU’s offensive line is one of the best in college football, but it hasn’t been a rock in pass protection and will occasionally get Zach Mettenberger popped. LSU hasn’t needed to unleash the passing game yet, and while it has been efficient and effective, it hasn’t had to make any big plays when the pressure is on.

Auburn has to come up with something special from some unlikely sources. Onterio McCalebb has been terrific on kickoff returns, and Cody Parkey has been excellent nailing all six of his field goal attempts. The special teams have to somehow be better than the great LSU special teams, the defensive front has to hold up against the power running game, and more than anything else, the Tigers need to get a stunning performance from …

What To Watch Out For: Kiehl Frazier. All the tools are there and the talent is undeniable, but he’s still a true sophomore without a ton of experience to rely on in tight situations. With only two touchdown passes and five picks, and with no appreciable running plays to make up for the passing issues, he has yet to arrive – his best play so far was a 33-yard touchdown catch against ULM. He has to let it rip and has to take several big chances. Owning third downs is a must and he has to connect on a few deep balls.

LSU has moved on after losing Alfred Blue for several weeks to a knee injury. Kenny Hilliard picked up the slack with 116 yards and two scores against Idaho, and Michael Ford should play a bigger role after being stuck with just one carry for nine yards last week. Ford is starting to work more as a kickoff returner, but it’s Hilliard who’s starting to establish himself as the steadying force for the pounding attack.

What Will Happen: Auburn will play well … for about 20 minutes. The home team Tigers will hang around and make the road team Tigers look bad for a little while with the pass rush coming up with a good start, and then reality and the LSU running game will set in. Hilliard will run for 150 yards and the floodgates will open in the second half.

CFN Prediction: LSU 38 … Auburn 16
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) LSU -20 O/U: 48.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 3