Auburn defense eager to test itself LSU's Fournette
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Auburn safety Rudy Ford, who has 24 tackles in two games, accepts the fact that maintaining such numbers is going to hurt a little more this week.
It's apparent to Ford and the rest of Auburn's defense that 6-foot-1, 230-pound Heisman Trophy candidate Leonard Fournette headlines a battering, power running game that is as good as any they'll encounter all season.
So expect to hear the popping of pads amid the din in Death Valley on Saturday night, when No. 18 Auburn (2-0, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) visits 13th-ranked LSU (1-0, 1-0).
''The challenge is stopping No. 7,'' Ford said of Fournette. ''We have to get ready. It's going to be a big, physical game. Get ready for pounding.''
Fournette looks primed to distinguish himself as the most dominant running back in the nation. He began this season with career highs of 159 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries at Mississippi State, where the Bulldogs struggled to contain him even when the whole, cow-bell-ringing stadium knew he was getting the ball.
''I want to thank the offensive line for protecting me. I didn't know I had 28 carries. I thought it was less than that,'' Fournette said, keeping to his apparent theme this season of overt humility and a team-first outlook, even as so much of the focus is on him.
Fournette made sure to mention that he considers fellow sophomore running back Darrel Williams - another formidable power runner at 6-feet, 232 pounds - one of the co-leaders of the offense this season.
Auburn sounds impressed by LSU's running game, but not intimidated. Defensive tackle Montravius Adams said he looked forward to seeing what his unit could to against Fournette.
''Mississippi State is a good team, so they do have a good front seven. For him to have that many yards on them, that's saying a lot,'' Adams said. ''It's going to be a good challenge for us and we're just ready to see what happens.''
Some key story lines to know as Auburn visits LSU:
QB INEXPERIENCE: Jeremy Johnson's last two games have been marred by five interceptions, but Auburn still rallied to win. Such mistakes could be costlier at Tiger Stadium, where LSU sophomore Brandon Harris makes his first home start. Harris passed for only 71 yards but minimized mistakes at Mississippi State, and that was enough to win with the help he had from the running game. Harris' only start as a freshman came at Auburn, where he completed only 3 of 14 passes in a 41-7 loss.
BUSY BARBER: Tailback Peyton Barber has been Auburn's workhorse, logging his first career start against Jacksonville State. He was officially listed atop a new depth chart released this week. He's rushed for better than 100 yards in each of Auburn's first two games.
HOME ADVANTAGE: The home team has won 13 of the past 15 meetings. Auburn hasn't won in Death Valley since 1999, which was news to Adams, and he responded defiantly when that trend was brought up. ''We aren't going to Baton Rouge just to lose. We're going there to take on a fight and try to get a win,'' he said. LSU has won nine straight home openers.
INJURIES: The status of several injured Auburn players has been uncertain this week. Defensive end Carl Lawson (hip flexor), safety Tray Matthews (shoulder) and tailback Jovon Robinson (ankle) were all held out against Jacksonville State. Meanwhile, LSU coach Les Miles said safety Jalen Mills (ankle) is getting better but he declined to give a timeline for his return, saying, ''I would be guessing.''
PRESSURE: LSU's defensive line played well in its first game under new position Ed Orgeron, sacking mobile Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott three times, preventing scrambles and forcing quick throws. With the noise of Death Valley behind them, LSU's pass rushers could be even better. Miles said Orgeron has ''made a tremendous difference'' with his defensive linemen, adding, ''They read and react and I think they can come off the ball and attack you extremely well.''
AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Auburn, Alabama, contributed to this report.