LSU has rarely been a heavy favorite at Auburn — but it is now
LSU’s game at Auburn on Saturday will be its 17th trip to the Plains.
Despite all those contests, in one respect, the No. 2-ranked Tigers will enter uncharted territory:
- LSU has never gone to Auburn as such a huge favorite before.
- LSU (3-0) is a 20½-point favorite over Auburn (1-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference), by far the biggest margin in LSU’s favor for a game at Auburn.
- In 14 previous trips to Auburn since 1970, LSU was a favorite only three other times. The biggest margin was as a five-point favorite in 1998, a game which LSU won 31-19.
- LSU leads the Auburn series 25-20-1, including last year’s 45-10 win in Tiger Stadium, but Auburn leads 10-6 in games played at Auburn.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium on ESPN.
The point spread for Saturday’s game is perhaps a reflection of the statistical disparity between the two programs.
LSU is ranked first in four of the SEC’s eight major statistical categories: scoring offense (48.3 points per game), rushing offense (269.3 yards per game), total defense (205.0 ypg) and rushing defense (47.0 ypg).
In only one category is LSU ranked near the bottom of the conference, 12th in passing yards per game (203.0). The Tigers are third in scoring defense (10.3 ppg), third in passing defense (158.0 ypg) and fourth in total offense (472.3 ypg).
Conversely, Auburn is ranked last in the 14-team SEC in four categories: scoring offense (20.0 ppg), total offense (336.0 ypg), passing offense (160.7 ypg) and rushing defense (217.0). Auburn is also 13th in total defense (442.0 ypg), 12th in scoring defense (27.3 ppg) and is ninth in rushing offense (175.3 ypg) and pass defense (225.0 ypg).
How’s your ’stache?
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger said he won’t go out of his way before Saturday’s game to speak with first-year Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and first-year secondary coach Willie Martinez, but will visit with them if he gets the chance.
VanGorder and Martinez coached at Georgia when Mettenberger was growing up around the Georgia program, VanGorder from 2001-04, Martinez from 2001-09. Mettenberger’s mother still works in the Georgia football office.
Mettenberger had a full beard over the summer, but aside from the usual college scruffiness, he has pruned the facial hair to a mustache. He said it’s per the orders of quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe.
VanGorder is famous for his mustache as well.
“Maybe we can swap mustache tips during the game,” Mettenberger said jokingly.
A story out of Auburn this week said Auburn players are upset with comments attributed to LSU fullback J.C. Copeland from December about last October’s game against Auburn.
According to the story, which appeared on AL.com, Copeland said: “After the first couple of hits, everybody (on Auburn’s defense) was just backing up. They didn’t want to hit at all.”
“It’s a huge disrespect to us and what we stand for,” said defensive end Corey Lemonier, one of the SEC’s top pass rushers. “We’re just going to use that as momentum, put fire in, and just use it as motivation.”
Copeland was not available for comment after the story was published Wednesday. The only media availability with LSU players this week was Tuesday.
If Auburn’s players seethed over the quotes attributed to Copeland, they’ll probably also enjoy this quote from LSU tailback Spencer Ware. He’s still steaming over LSU’s 24-17 loss at Auburn in 2010, a game in which he threw a trick-play touchdown pass.
“We know what to expect, and we still owe them one at their place,” Ware said. “But we’re going to save our talking for our performance on the field and go out there and play good football.”
Advocate on the road
Complimentary copies of The Advocate will be delivered Saturday morning to a number of hotels in Montgomery, Ala., as well as the motor home lots at Auburn.
You can find The Advocate in Montgomery at the Embassy Suites (LSU team hotel), Renaissance Montgomery, Hilton Garden Inn, Drury Inn & Suites, Residence Inn and Holiday Inn Express & Suites.
Daub changing high schools
Kain Daub, a 2014 LSU commitment and one of the nation’s most highly rated prospects for that year’s recruiting class, is making a midseason transfer from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood, according to the Florida Times-Union.
Daub (6-foot-3, 227 pounds) is ranked No. 7 in the 24/7 Sports Top 247 for 2014, the nation’s top-rated inside linebacker and top prospect in Florida.
Nease is the alma mater of former Florida and current New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow.