LSU DE Barkevious Mingo could steal the show against Auburn on Saturday if his ankle is healthy. (US Presswire)

No. 2 LSU (3-0, 0-0 SEC) at Auburn (1-2, 0-1 SEC)

Kickoff: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Spread: LSU by 18.5

Watchability: This is traditionally a thriller that is loaded with SEC West title implications. That might not be the case in 2012. Auburn will look to rebound from a slow start this season with a better performance Saturday, but the reality is that LSU could run away with this one. Winning on the road in the SEC is never a given though, so it’s a game worth watching.

Shining stars: LSU: The defense is loaded with stars, but RB Kenny Hilliard has emerged as one of the toughest backs to tackle in the conference. At 5-foot-11, 240 pounds, he’s a load to bring down. He can run through a defender, but he can also run past an entire defense, as evidenced by runs of 60 and 71 yards he’s had this season. Auburn: RB Tre Mason is emerging as the top back in Auburn’s rotation. The sophomore has 44 attempts for 221 yards (5 yards per carry) and a touchdown on the season. The Tigers gave him 22 carries in a tight contest against Louisiana-Monroe last week. 

Who could steal the show: LSU: DE Barkevious Mingo has been bothered by an ankle injury, but he’s due to have a huge performance soon. Looks for him to make at least one big play against an Auburn OL that is still developing. Auburn: Though Mason is getting most of the carries, RB Onterio McCalebb is a threat running, receiving and returning kicks. He has the only SEC touchdown on the year for the Tigers, a 100-yard kickoff return against Mississippi State.

You going? Ranking the road trip: Expect a little bit more purple than normal in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. This is the first SEC game for LSU, so its fans might make the drive up. Even with Auburn struggling, there will still be a great gameday atmosphere.

Magic number for LSU: 24. That’s its current winning streak in September games. The last LSU loss in the month was against Auburn in 2006.

Magic number for Auburn: 217. That’s how many rushing yards per game Auburn is giving up. LSU will be looking to make that number go up even higher.

The game comes down to: Auburn has to sustain drives, and protect the football on offense. If LSU is allowed to keep the football, it will wear Auburn out with its impressive collection of RBs. Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier will also have to cut down his mistake after throwing five interceptions through three games.

Eye on College Football's take: Poor Frazier. He has already gotten off to the rockiest start
possible this season, and now for his first career SEC start he gets to face an LSU defense that reduced Washington's Keith Price -- a far more seasoned signal-caller than Frazier -- to total, utter haplessness two weeks ago. (Price's numbers: 47 percent completion rate, 4.4 yards an attempt, no touchdowns, one pick.) If the visiting Tigers can avoid giving up the long bombs that let Frazier enjoy a competent night in Week 1 vs. Clemson, it's next-to-impossible to see how things get any better for Frazier ... or how the Auburn offense puts up more than a smattering of points. The homestanding Tigers have to do much the same to Mettenberger, though -- Auburn may match up better schematically vs. a pro-style team like LSU than against the spread attacks of Clemson, Mississippi State, or ULM, but any good work Auburn might do vs. the run will be undone if a heartbeat if (like the Huskies) they let Mettenberger complete a high percentage of his deep throws. Given the attention Auburn has to pay to Hilliard and Co., however, that's much easier said than done. -- Jerry Hinnen

Prediction: LSU 38, Auburn 17

For more up-to-the minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Larry Hartstein and Daniel Lewis, follow @CBSSportsSEC.