Posted by Jerry Hinnen
AUBURN WILL WIN IF: they catch the kind of game-turning cavalcade of breaks that Les Miles's team is the one usually known for receiving ... and creating. With the visiting Tigers' offense firmly in milk-clock-don't-turn-it-over-play-field-position mode thanks to its first-time starter at quarterback, the chances are awfully, awfully slim that Auburn is going to go into Death Valley and beat LSU straight-up. But Auburn's underclassmen-laden defense has showed some legitimate spark in the previous few weeks, particularly against offenses similar to LSU's pro-style ground-pound attack (see: South Carolina and Florida). If Auburn has some success holding the line against Spencer Ware and Co. (and they should), a sudden reversion to Jarrett Lee's turnover-happy 2008 form or a series of uncharacteristic special teams gaffes could keep Gene Chizik's team competitive into the fourth quarter. And then ... who knows?
LSU WILL WIN IF: they do anything other than commit that catastrophic series of mistakes. The host Tigers are three-touchdown favorites for a reason, namely that Auburn's likely strategy of winning the field-position battle and capitalizing opponent mistakes is what LSU does--and how likely are the Bayoun Bengals to be beaten at their own game in their own house? As long as Lee continues to play error-free football, the defense continues to make up for its occasional lapses with twice as many big plays, and the special teams continues to pin opponents deep, LSU has precious little to worry about from any team that's not championship-caliber--and Auburn is far too young to have earned that label yet.
THE X-FACTOR: Lee. All LSU fans were hoping from their senior signal-caller this season was for him to -- to put it politely -- not screw things up for the running game and defense. But the former turnover machine has suddenly become a legitimate weapon, completing 71 percent of his passes the previous two weeks for an eye-popping 11.2 yards an attempt (a number which, stretched over the season, would have him second in the nation)--and against quality SEC competition in Florida and Tennessee at that. Lee hasn't thrown an interception since Week 3 and sports a 10-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio for the season. It's simple: if he even comes close to playing up to his recent standards, Auburn's not going to stand a chance.