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No. 19 Auburn challenges top-ranked LSU

The top-ranked LSU Tigers have won all ranked Auburn Tigers come to Baton Rouge for an SEC showdown.

The winner of the Auburn/LSU game has won the SEC West and advanced to Atlanta for the conference championship in five of the last eight seasons, and seven of the past 11.

Auburn is facing its third top-10 opponent in the last four weeks, so the stiff competition is nothing new for the defending national champs. Gene Chizik's Tigers need one more victory to earn bowl eligibility, as they are 5-2 to date. Last weekend, the club put forth a tremendous defensive performance in a 17-6 victory over Florida.

As for LSU, it has posted eight straight double-digit wins dating back to last season, and that string ties a school record. The Tigers have won four road games thus far and have defeated four ranked opponents, so the 7-0 start is certainly legitimate. Last weekend, Tennessee was no match for LSU, as the Knoxville crowd looked on in disgust as the road team rolled to a 38-7 triumph.

"We came into a big-time venue, and we took the field with the enthusiasm that depicts the environment," said LSU coach Les Miles after the romp. "I felt like our guys did what they needed to do. That wasn't our best game, certainly, but we did what we needed to do to secure a victory."

LSU holds a narrow 23-20-1 edge in the all-time series with Auburn, which including five straight victories in Baton Rouge.

Auburn is far less explosive on offense than it was last season when Cam Newton was under center. The 2011 Tigers are generating a mediocre 26.3 ppg and 360.9 total ypg, numbers that can certainly stand some improvement. Leading the club from the quarterback position is Barrett Trotter, who has completed 54.4 percent of his passes for 1,009 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions. Emory Blake is the top wideout with four touchdowns and 33 receiving yards, but the star of the offense is clearly tailback Michael Dyer who has posted 752 yards and eight scores.

The offense was far from explosive against Florida last Saturday, mustering 278 yards in the clash. Blake missed that game with a knee injury and is questionable for this weekend's affair. Trotter did throw a touchdown pass against the Gators, but he was ineffective otherwise and was pulled in favor of Clint Moseley.

"We will evaluate it and we made a change at halftime and put Clint (Moseley) in there and Barrett (Trotter) has done a real nice job for us, and so we are not in any way, shape or form saying Barrett can't play anymore," said Chizik after the win. "That's not the message. The message is that we needed a spark."

Chizik hopes the spark leads to a raging fire of success as Moseley has been given the starting nod in this week's game.

Through seven contests, Auburn is yielding 25.9 ppg and 404.4 total ypg, more numbers that simply won't get the job done in the SEC. The Tigers are yielding 4.4 rushing ypc and have given up 12 rushing scores to date. The club surrenders 222.0 passing yards per contest and has turned the ball over 13 times.

Fortunately, the defense came through in a big way against Florida last weekend, holding the Gators without a touchdown to the delight of the home crowd. Auburn yielded a mere 194 total yards in the affair and came up with four takeaways.

"Dominant. I think that is the only word you could use," said Chizik of the defensive effort.

The two-quarterback system is working just fine for the top-ranked Tigers, who got major contributions from both Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson in the 31- point romp over Tennessee last Saturday. Lee completed 10-of-14 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers, who are off to a 7-0 start for the second straight year. Jefferson carried the ball 14 times for 73 yards and a score for LSU, which completed its second straight sweep of the SEC Eastern Division. For the first time in school history, LSU has swept teams from the other half of the league in back-to-back years.

"I liked using both quarterbacks," said Miles. "I think that's what's best, what we need to do. And I think both guys do different things, and we like to do that. We will continue to do that. There is a want for both guys to have success and have team success."

LSU is generating 38.4 ppg and 369.1 total ypg, and the scoring output is obviously more impressive than the yardage. The Tigers have been successful both throwing and running the ball. Pacing the ground attack is Spencer Ware with 512 yards and six touchdowns, while Rueben Randle leads the receivers with 28 catches for 532 yards and five scores. Lee, who has started every game and has thrown 11 touchdowns against only one interception, is the more polished passer, while Jefferson brings a great deal of athleticism to the position. In the three games he has played since returning from suspension, Jefferson has run for a pair of TDs and thrown for another.

The fact that Tennessee managed only seven points at home last weekend is an obvious feather in the cap of the LSU defense. Just 6-of-20 UT passes were completed against the stellar Tiger secondary, and LSU finished with a pair of interceptions.

It is hard to find a better defensive team in all of college football than LSU, which is surrendering only 11.7 ppg and 251.9 total ypg. The Tigers are yielding a low 2.5 yards per rushing attempt, and they have 10 interceptions to go along with six fumble recoveries. The takeaways, coupled with 13 sacks, are obviously highly impressive. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who has six takeaways personally, may be the nation's top defender.

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