For the second straight week, LSU has a bone to pick with an SEC foe. After being absolutely dominated from start to finish against Auburn in 2020, the purple and gold will have the chance to right another wrong with a familiar face potentially behind center for the visiting Tigers.
The score a year ago was 48-11 when it was all said and done and the quarterback under center for most of that game for LSU was freshman TJ Finley. After a terrific opening act against South Carolina, the Auburn game was a bit of a wake up call for Finley in his lone season with the purple and gold.
In that game Finley threw for 143 yards and two interceptions, also fumbling the ball once in the process. Fast forward a year and the now sophomore quarterback could very well be in line to start against his former team on Saturday night at 8 p.m.
Auburn is coming off a near upset to Georgia State where the offense really struggled for three quarters of the contest. It wasn't until the fourth quarter benching of Bo Nix for Finley that Auburn was able to get anything going, with Finley orchestrating a 98-yard touchdown drive to secure a win.
This Auburn offense under Finley could be wildly different with more of a focus on the passing game while Nix is someone who can beat an opposing defense with his legs. Last season against the Tigers, Nix had his best game as a college athlete, throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for an additional 81 yards with a score.
It's unlikely that coach Bryan Harsin tips his hand this week and will force LSU to prepare for both options. This LSU defense has some experience going head to head with Finley in practice for a whole year but the sophomore has the talent to be a true game changer with his powerful arm strength.
Unlike LSU's first SEC game of the season, Auburn is much more balanced in its attack, led by running back Tank Bigsby, who has rushed for 404 yards in four games with four touchdowns and is one of the best backs in the conference. The purple and gold will likely go back to its traditional four man rush but with no Derek Stingley for the forseeable future this secondary will be tested with not as many players dropping back in coverage.
On the defensive side, Auburn proved to be one of the toughest units in the first three games of the season, allowing 253 yards per game and 15.5 points albeit against inferior opponents in Akron, Alabama State, Penn State and Georgia State. This group is led by linebacker Chandler Wooten who leads the team in tackles, defensive lineman TJ Moultry and defensive back Roger McCreary who is among the conference leaders in interceptions.
Auburn has yet to truly be tested defensively and the way LSU's passing offense has looked to start the season, there are some ways this unit will be able to exploit the Auburn defense. Another area to keep an eye on is that LSU and Auburn are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country with 43 and 42 tackles for a loss to start the season.
This will be a critical game for the purple and gold to see how they stack up against a slightly better SEC opponent. Auburn will certainly come into this one with a heightened sense of urgency, making a fast start all the more important for LSU.