Auburn at LSU Preview: Three most important matchups to watch for

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Sep 12, 2015; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Peyton Barber (25) celebrates his game-winning touchdown during overtime against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Jordan Hare Stadium. Auburn won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports


So much can change in a day. This time last week, it looked like Auburn would be a favorite Saturday night in Baton Rouge – or at least the game would be a toss-up. The Tigers showed some good things against Louisville, and would surely blow out Jacksonville State to set up an SEC West battle featuring two teams ranked in the top 15. Instead, Auburn nearly became a punchline and a trivia answer to the question of the biggest upset of all-time.

Arkansas’ loss to Toledo took a little of the heat off, but Auburn still dropped a dozen spots in AP Poll (and lost a couple of important players to injury as well) and are currently a touchdown underdog heading into LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

LSU played well against Mississippi State – particularly Fournette and the pass rush that forced Dak Prescott to run for his life most of the first half. The Fighting Tigers were also tested through the very end of the game, but because they won in Starkville and beat a Bulldogs squad ranked in the top 25 among FBS programs, not a top-ten FCS squad, spirits are high in Baton Rouge.

However, this is still a game Auburn can win. Almost losing and actually losing are two completely different things, and just because Auburn needed overtime last week has no bearing on the upcoming weekend’s result. Jeremy Johnson has played more poorly than anyone expected, and the team is still 2-0 and still has all eight conference games to play. Plus, we haven’t seen the best of Will Muschamp yet. If Muschamp can create mismatches up front to create more of a pass rush, it will put pressure on Harris (much like last year’s 41-7 Auburn win) and will take a lot of the burden off of Auburn’s young secondary.

In the end, Auburn should look more like he team we expected them to be – not the team that needed a touchdown in the final minute of the fourth quarter to force overtime last week against a FCS opponent. With a bounce back game from Johnson and a creative game plan from Will Muschamp, Auburn can go into Death Valley and come out with a victory.

Next: 50 Greatest College Football Rivalries of All-Time

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