Barking Dog Alert: LSU vs. Auburn Week 5 Pick
LSU Tigers (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS) vs. Auburn Tigers (3-1 SU, 0-4 ATS)
When: Saturday, October 1, 7 p.m.
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.
Point Spread: LSU -8.5/AUB +8.5
Total: O/U 45.5
On one hand, the idea of Auburn catching more than a touchdown in the Jungle seems patently ridiculous, especially given that the Tigers have a long history of playing tight games at home against LSU. The last time the battle of the Tigers was decided in LSU’s favor by more than a touchdown in Auburn was 1998 when Peyton Manning was but a rookie NFL quarterback. Since then, a bunch of weird things have happened in this rivalry, but close games always seem to rule the day at Jordan-Hare.
But wow, are Auburn quarterbacks dropping like flies this year. The Tigers already lost Zach Calzada for the year, and they’ve had to practice without TJ Finley for part of the week, leaving Robby Ashford as the starter after coming back from his own injury suffered against Missouri. The Tigers at least have a couple of signal callers healthy, but Auburn is really in need of a medic and some time off.
Instead, they face an LSU squad with a tenacious defense but a team that is overall untested outside of a loss in New Orleans to Florida State. The Bayou Bengals were able to slow down Mike Leach’s crew in a home win over Mississippi State, but that remains LSU’s best win to this point in the season. The Louisiana Tigers have done some good things at home, but Brian Kelly has yet to go on the road in an SEC stadium as the LSU coach — heck, he’s yet to coach LSU in a game outside of Louisiana at all. With a past that produces weird results, does Auburn have one more in it here?
How the Public is Betting the LSU/Auburn Game
The public and the money are riding with the purple and gold Tigers in this SEC West battle, as the spread has jumped from -7.5 to -8.5, and 58% of tickets have come in on LSU. The total has not changed.
Defensive end Justin Foster (undisclosed) and defensive tackle Bryan Bresee (personal) are questionable. Wide receiver Troy Stellato (knee) and defensive end Xavier Thomas (foot) are out.
Long snapper Jacob Zuhr (undisclosed) is questionable. Defensive back Coby Davis (undisclosed) and wide receiver Horatio Fields (knee) are out.
When LSU Has the Ball
On the one hand, LSU has responded to adversity in the form of trailing both Mississippi State and Florida State in the fourth quarter. Against the Bulldogs, the Bayou Bengals came up with 21 points in the fourth to avoid defeat and emerge with a win, and against the Seminoles, LSU managed a late comeback that nearly forced overtime until poor special teams play bit the Tigers on the final play.
On the other hand, LSU never should have been in those positions. The Tigers have gotten solid play out of Jayden Daniels when it matters, but LSU seems to wait until it really needs to get the most out of its drives before Daniels and company really get to work. The run game has been inconsistent, and Daniels has done most of the work on the ground to this point. Outside of getting run over by Penn State, Auburn’s run defense has played pretty well, although that could also be a product of a soft opening schedule outside of that game with the Nittany Lions. LSU will likely try to test Auburn with whatever it finds available in the early going, but the Bayou Bengals would be wise to avoid waiting until the last minute to handle this game.
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When Auburn Has the Ball
The injuries do put an asterisk on how poorly Auburn did at home against Missouri, but the Tigers also managed a mere 1.8 yards per carry, even leaving aside the injuries to the quarterback. Auburn’s ground game just didn’t go anywhere against Missouri, and it’s not like Auburn is the kind of team that usually puts up big numbers through the air and leaves the ground as a second thought. The Tigers need to run the ball to win, and they simply didn’t do it the last time they took the field.
Tank Bigsby will have to be better than 2.3 yards per carry if Auburn is going to have a chance in this one. Whether it’s Ashford or a hobbled Finley, Auburn just doesn’t seem to have the explosive ability needed to beat stronger teams based on what it has shown so far. Weird things do happen in the Jungle, but Auburn will have to be much better than it was a week ago to get in a position to win.
Picking the under already made sense with Auburn’s injury woes, but it really makes sense in this situation: the under is 10-1 in the teams’ past 11 matchups. The other smart way to bet this matchup is to simply gamble on the home team, as the hosts are 9-4 ATS in the past 13 meetings, and LSU is a mere 1-5 ATS in its past six matchups at Jordan-Hare.
That said, Auburn’s failed to cover in five straight games at Jordan-Hare, so it’s very possible that the magic just isn’t there this season. Then again, none of those opponents were LSU.
It’s going to be a cool night in the South, with temperatures falling to 56 degrees around kickoff. Winds will blow northwest at six miles per hour.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
On paper, LSU should win this game easily. But weird things happen at Auburn, and LSU has never played well here, so this feels like a game that ends up closer than people think. LSU is a decent team, but it’s not a juggernaut by any means.
I think LSU picks up a win here, but I don’t think it dominates the game. I’ll back Auburn and the points.