The LSU Tigers have started the the 2012 season with three non-conference wins, defeating North Texas, Washington and Idaho by a combined score of 145-31. There were no surprises there, as the Tigers are ranked No. 2 in the country behind only Alabama, while their first three opponents are now a combined 3-6. Coming off of their best performance of the season, a 63-14 win over Idaho, the Tigers must now get ready to begin their conference schedule, starting with a road game at Auburn on Saturday, September 22.
The Auburn Tigers have struggled this year, earning their first win in a tough 31-28 overtime victory against Louisiana-Monroe on September 15. Auburn dropped their first two games this season, losing 26-19 to Clemson and then 28-10 to SEC West rival Mississippi State. In fact, Auburn was close to entering the contest with LSU at 0-3, with ULM scoring 14 unanswered points to force an overtime period just a week after upsetting Arkansas. Auburn pulled out the win but will now face a much bigger test.
LSU's running game has been strong and should prove to be tough for Auburn to stop. Kenny Hilliard led the team with 116 yards against Idaho, scoring two touchdowns. Freshman Jeremy Hill, playing in his first career game, further added to the depth of one of the nation's best running teams, scoring two touchdowns himself and gaining 61 yards on 10 carries.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger also had his best career game against Idaho, passing for 222 yards and two scores. As an LSU fan, it is great to see Mettenberger continue to improve each week. I am confident that he is capable of leading the Tigers through their tough SEC schedule.
On the other hand, Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier has not been as impressive. In three games, Frazier has completed 50 percent of his passes, good for 34 completions and 449 yards. With two touchdowns and five interceptions, though, Frazier could have trouble against a dominant LSU defensive backfield.
LSU will be highly-favored, and while road wins are never easy in the SEC, I expect them to defeat Auburn by double-digit points. With one last non-conference game against Towson up next, LSU will soon reach the stretch of their schedule when they face potential Top 25 teams several weeks in a row. A win against Auburn will keep the momentum going.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.