SEC College Football Picks: #18 Auburn Tigers at #13 LSU Tigers

#18 Auburn Tigers at #13 LSU Tigers
Tiger Stadium – Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Saturday, September 19, 2015, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: LSU -7
Current Line: LSU -6 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 52 1/2
Current Total: 48 1/2
Opening Money Line: LSU -285 / Auburn +235
Current Money Line: LSU -255 / Auburn +215

LSU is a 6.5 point favorite against rival Auburn Saturday in Baton Rouge.
LSU is a 6.5 point favorite against rival Auburn Saturday in Baton Rouge.

The Auburn Tigers and LSU Tigers renew their rivalry Saturday in Baton Rouge. Both teams are ranked in the top 20. It is the 16th straight game between the teams where at least one of the teams were ranked and both were or are ranked in 11 of those contests. Auburn is 2-0 and LSU is 1-0 this season.

LSU leads the series 27-21-1, including 16-5-1 in Baton Rouge. Auburn dominated last year at home 41-7 to snap a three game losing streak in the series. The home team has won 13 of the last 15 games in this series.

Auburn is coached by Gus Malzahn. The Tigers opened the season with a 31-24 win over Louisville in Atlanta. The Tigers led 24-0 in that contest early in the third and held on for the win. Auburn was a 44 point favorite over FCS school Jacksonville State last week at home and the total was 63. Far from an easy cupcake game, Jacksonville State actually led 20-13 with just over 5 minutes to go. Auburn fumbled at the Jacksonville State 20 with 2:32 left.

The Gamecocks recovered the fumble but were called for excessive celebration and penalized half the distance to the goal. After a tentative three and out Jacksonville State shanked a punt for 17 yards. Auburn took over at the JSU 31. The Tigers would score the game tying touchdown on a 10 yard touchdown pass. Auburn would survive in overtime 27-20.  It would have been the biggest upset by point spread in Vegas history. Auburn plummeted in the polls from #6 to #18 after the near upset.  The Tigers are 0-2 ATS and the total is 0-1-1 this season.

LSU is coached by Les Miles. After the season opener against McNeese State was cancelled due to inclement weather, LSU opened the season and SEC play at then #25 Mississippi State. LSU was a 3 point favorite and the total was 52.5. LSU escaped with a 21-19 win.

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Auburn is outscoring teams 29-22 this season. The Tigers average 364 yards per game including 187 passing and 178 rushing yards. On defense, Auburn is allowing 422 total yards per game including 222 passing and 200 rushing yards. Auburn has forced three turnovers but has six giveaways this season. The Tigers average 60 penalty yards per game and opponents average 36 per game. Auburn is 11/23 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 20/38. The Tigers have forced six sacks and haven’t allowed one yet. Auburn is 5/6 scoring in the red zone with 4 touchdowns, and opponents are 7/11 with 5 touchdowns. Auburn has a defensive touchdown this year.

Quarterback Jeremy Johnson has struggled this season. He has completed 60.4% of his passes for 373 yards with 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. Freshman Sean White could see some action if Johnson continues to struggle. Another back-up QB Tyler Queen is out for the season with an elbow injury.

Running back Peyton Barber has 47 carries for 240 yards and a touchdown, along with 2 catches for 24 yards. Roc Thomas has 14 carries for 49 yards, and 2 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Ricardo Louis has 13 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown, along with 5 carries for 24 yards and a rushing touchdown. D’haquille Williams has 5 catches for 62 yards. Melvin Ray has 5 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.

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LSU jumped out to an early 14-0 lead against Mississippi State with two touchdown runs from Leonard Fournette. Mississippi State kicked a field goal just before halftime to make it 14-3 Tigers. The Bulldogs would add another field goal early in the third. Fournette scored his third rushing touchdown of the game to make it 21-6 LSU at the end of the third. Mississippi State would score two fourth quarter touchdowns, but missed a two point conversion with four minutes left to make it 21-19. After an LSU punt, the Bulldogs took over with 1:32 left. The Bulldogs drove down to the LSU 34 but missed the game winning 52 yard field goal as time expired.

LSU had 337 total yards including 266 rushing yards. MSU had 378 total yards including 335 passing yards. The Bulldogs had 27 first downs to 16 for the Tigers. LSU had 9 penalties for 95 yards and MSU had 5 for 45 yards. LSU had possession for over 33 minutes. Neither team had a turnover.

Quarterback Brandon Harris completed 9 of 14 passes for 71 yards, and rushed for 48 yards on five carries. Fournette had 28 carries for 159 yards and 3 touchdowns. Darrel Williams had 12 carries for 45 yards. Receiver DeSean Smith had one catch for 23 yards. Malachi Dupre had 2 catches for 22 yards. Travin Dural had 4 catches for 15 yards, along with 2 carries for 14 yards.

Auburn is 1-4 ATS after a straight up win, 1-5 in SEC games and in road games, 0-8 on grass, 0-7 overall, 0-6 against teams with winning records, 0-5 after an ATS loss, and 0-4 in September. The under is 11-4  in this series recently.

LSU is 6-13-1 ATS after a straight up win, 4-10 after allowing 280 passing yards or more, 5-14 after allowing less than 20 points, 1-4 overall and after passing for less than 170 yards and 1-5 after rushing for 200 yards or more. The home team is 5-1 ATS in this series recently and the favorite is 5-2 ATS. LSU has covered 4 of the last 5 games in this series.

Auburn entered this season as a trendy pick to win the SEC and make the playoff. However, it is apparent that they were vastly overrated. They have struggled on both sides of the ball. We also don’t really know what to make of LSU who escaped with a tough road win in Starkville with 70,000 plus cowbells ringing incessantly. Still I think LSU wins a close low scoring game.

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