Tiger Predictions: LSU stays unbeaten with Dominant Defensive Performance

Another high scoring affair on offense seems likely with return of Terrace Marshall
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Hosting its second top-10 game in three weeks, Death Valley is sure to be electric as the No. 2 ranked Tigers of LSU are set to welcome No. 9 Auburn back to Baton Rouge. The last time the two teams played in Baton Rouge, it took a fourth quarter rally for LSU to squeak by 27-23.

LSU has taken six of the last eight meetings with Auburn, winners of the last two thanks to Cole Tracy's infamous last second field goal in 2018 that knocked off a then top-10 Auburn club.

This year, LSU is a 10.5 point favorite against the visiting Tiger team, but here's how we think it's going to shape out.

Score Prediction: LSU 38, Auburn 17

Since its 45-38 win over Texas in the second game of the season, LSU has rolled over its competition, with Florida being the only team to keep a game interesting, and ultimately losing by 14 points. The Auburn defensive line is much like Florida's, boasting a potential top-five NFL draft pick in Derrick Brown.

Offensively, Auburn has been able to put up big numbers against inferior talent but when the games matter most, have struggled to put up high point totals. In the team's only loss to Florida this year, Auburn scored just 13 points and barely survived a late comeback attempt from Texas A&M, edging out a 28-20 victory.

Freshman quarterback Bo Nix will be entering the most hostile environment of his young career. Its been a bit of a mixed bag from Nix in his freshman season, completing 56% of his passes for 1,301 yards and 11 touchdowns while running for an additional 210 yards and three scores.

The LSU defense will want to make the freshman beat them with his arm as accuracy has been a big problem for Nix this season, tossing five interceptions in 2019.

"How's he going to play on the road, how's he going adjust to the crowd noise but we have to expect his best," Orgeron said. "We have a plan for him, a plan to rush him, a plan to rush four but it all depends on what Dave [Aranda] wants to do."

How the LSU offense will do

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was not happy with the offense's efficiency against Mississippi State last week but lucky for him one of the Tiger's biggest redzone threats is set to make a return.

With sophomore receiver Terrace Marshall in the lineup, expect more touchdowns than field goals for the Tiger offense once getting in the redzone. Marshall's presence alone will keep Auburn from keying in on Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase, allowing all three to potentially have a massive afternoon.

It feels like nothing can stop Burrow from having a magnificent performance so expect more of the same from the senior quarterback, with another four touchdown performance not out of the question.

The big question will be how the offensive line can hold up against the Auburn front seven. The unit is playing with a ton of confidence in 2019, showing out against a top-20 Florida defense two weeks ago.

All week, the coaching staff has stressed winning the one on one battles and offensively, that starts up front with the offensive line. LSU wants to spread the offense out as much as possible, meaning early in the game expect a lot of five man protections.

Orgeron said in practice this week, the team went with a lot of "best against best" to simulate the Auburn defensive line as best they could. That essentially means LSU went with a lot of first team offense against first team defense this week in preparation for Auburn.

If Auburn can break those protections, LSU will need to adjust its gameplan by having an extra tight end or running back stay and pass block.

How the LSU defense performs

Getting to Nix early will be the key for LSU has the freshman has struggled under pressure in 2019, completing 28% of his passes under pressure in 2019.

The LSU pass rush has been much improved over the last two weeks with the returns of Rashard Lawrence, Glen Logan and Michael Divinity to the lineup. Over the last two weeks, the LSU defense has four sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. If the pass rush can have a similar performance against Nix and the Auburn offense on Saturday, the defense has a good chance of holding Auburn under 20 points.

"I think Rashard played his best game last week," Orgeron said. "Neil Farrell has played some of his best ball and a guy that's really playing well right now is Tyler Shelvin."

One of the strategies Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn could choose to try against LSU could be to control the clock by running the ball, in order to keep the ball out of Burrow and company's hands. Florida and Mississippi State tried that same strategy and it worked for a majority of the first half but ultimately fizzled out in the second half of those games.

If Malzahn and the Auburn offense can keep Burrow off the field by converting on third down, something the LSU defense has struggled with this season, it would certainly help keep Auburn in the game longer.

Orgeron recognizes that might be a strategy that could be used, saying the team has prepared for every scenario.

"I could see those guys trying to have some ball control," Orgeron said. "But it all depends, we don't know their gameplan. If their defense is doing well those guys may go hurry up on offense."