First take: A quick look at LSU

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 15, 2013 

Who: Auburn (3-0, 1-0; beat Mississippi State 24-20 on Saturday) at No. 6 LSU (3-0; beat Kent State 45-13 on Saturday)

When: Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ET

Where: Tiger Stadium (92,542) | Baton Rouge, La.


Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network (WVRK-102.9 FM in Columbus; WGZZ-94.3 FM in Auburn/Opelika)

All-time series: LSU leads 26-20-1

When last they met: One week after barely holding off Louisiana-Monroe to pick up its first win of the season, Auburn nearly pulled off an upset versus second-ranked LSU. It was not to be this time, as the visiting Tigers escaped with a 12-10 road victory in Jordan-Hare Stadium. And though the term “slugfest” is wrongly applied all too often, it fits the bill here. The defining play of the game came in the third quarter, when Auburn receiver Quan Bray muffed a punt return that LSU recovered. That miscue set up LSU kicker Drew Alleman’s go-ahead field goal to give the visitors a 12-10 advantage, and more importantly, proved to be the final points of the game. Auburn had one last chance to knock off the No. 2 team in the country after Alleman missed a 34-yard attempt with 39 seconds remaining. Auburn was only able to pick up one first down after the miss, however, and quarterback Kiehl Frazier’s last pass attempt was intercepted by LSU’s Tharold Simon as time expired.

Quick facts on LSU: Les Miles is 88-21 in nine seasons at LSU entering Saturday. Miles' 88 wins are the second-most in school history, behind only Charles McClendon's 137. "The Mad Hatter" is tops in winning percentage, though, with his .807 mark miles (pardon the pun) ahead of Nick Saban and Bill Arnsparger, who are tied for second at .750. ... The Tigers extended the nation’s longest non-conference regular season winning streak to 44 consecutive games with their win over the Golden Flashes on Saturday, which is also an FBS record. The last time LSU dropped a non-conference regular season game was in 2002 at Virginia Tech. LSU is 34-0 under Miles in non-conference regular season matchups. ... LSU was up 21-0 at the end of Saturday's first quarter, extending its dominance in the opening period. The Tigers have outscored opponents 48-3 in the first stanza this season. ... LSU had 571 yards of total offense, its most since tallying 595 against Louisiana Tech in 2007. ... LSU has won 33 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points. During Miles' tenure, the Tigers are 61-4 when breaking the 30-point barrier. ... LSU has won 28 straight games in the month of September. The last time they lost in the ninth month of the year? It came against Auburn in 2006.

Which (Auburn) Tiger is primed for a big performance: LSU's defense has shown no signs of weakness thus far. It is allowing only 267.7 yards of total offense per contest, with 110.7 on the ground and 157 through the air. That being said, coming off a career-high 339-yard passing performance on Saturday — which included the game-winning, 12-play, 88-yard drive — Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall should enter his first road game brimming with confidence. And one thing that sets him apart from LSU's first three opponents is his ability to make plays (and extend them) with his feet. Despite his personal-best total in the yardage department, Saturday didn't come without its share of mistakes for Marshall, as he threw his first two interceptions of the season. If Auburn is to have any chance to knock off LSU, Marshall will have to play a near-perfect game.

Which Bayou Bengal could give the Auburn fits: Zach Mettenberger began his college career at Georgia accompanied with the hype one would expect from a highly-touted prospect. After getting kicked off the Bulldogs due to legal issues, Mettenberger transferred to LSU to begin his career anew. He's still trying to meet the high expectations many have held for him, and through three games this season, the senior is (finally) starting to live up to the billing. Mettenberger has thrown nine touchdowns this season, which marks the most in school history after three games. (For comparison, he had only 12 touchdown tosses last year.) His accuracy has also improved dramatically under first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. After completing only 58.8 percent (207 of 352) of his passes in 2012, Mettenberger is connecting at a 65.2 percent (45-for-69) clip in 2013 and has yet to throw an interception. Given how porous Auburn's pass defense has been this season — the unit is giving up 276 yards per game — Mettenberger will be given ample opportunity to add to his already-impressive numbers.

Extra point: Miles began his LSU coaching career winning each of his first four bowl games, highlighted by the 2007 national championship game against Ohio State, which the Tigers won 38-24. But in his last four bowl appearances, things haven’t been quite as fruitful for the mercurial LSU coach, with the Tigers posting a 1-3 record in those matchups. (Lost the Capital One Bowl to Penn State in 2009; won the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M in 2010; fell to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game in 2011; defeated by Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last year.)

Related stories:

The drive: How Auburn's 88-yard game-winning possession versus Mississippi State unfolded

Auburn notes: Justin Garrett moving to weakside linebacker, Chris Davis' availability murky

Assessing Auburn's 24-20 victory over Mississippi State

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