After three dominant performances, LSU is back in a familiar position. Its first SEC opponent is in a decidedly unfamiliar one. The second-ranked Tigers will try to keep rolling during Saturday night's visit to Auburn, which nearly came into this matchup winless. LSU has outscored its first three opponents 145-31 and showcased its depth in last week's 63-14 rout of visiting Idaho. While filling in for injured safety Craig Loston, sophomore Ronald Martin had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown in his first collegiate start.
Backup running backs Kenny Hilliard and Jeremy Hill combined for 177 yards and ran for two touchdowns apiece with Hillard gaining 116. Because of an unspecified injury to starter Alfred Blue, LSU (3-0, 0-0) might need those two players' help as it tries to hang on to its lofty spot in the rankings. The Tigers, the nation's No. 1 team for much of last season, are back in position to advance to another BCS championship game if they can stay unbeaten. They climbed to No. 2 following Southern California's loss at Stanford this past Saturday. The owners of an NCAA-best 16 consecutive regular-season victories, LSU will try to take a step toward that goal by beating a team that recently claimed a BCS title.
With Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, Auburn finished 14-0 in 2010, but that run is beginning to seem like a distant memory. The program finished 8-5 last season and dropped its first two games this year before edging Louisiana-Monroe 31-28 in overtime last week. Auburn (1-2, 0-1) allowed the Warhawks, who upset then-No. 8 Arkansas in their season opener, to rally from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter but stopped them on their only possession in the extra period. Auburn is off to its worst start since 2007 and will seek to avoid dropping to 1-3 for the first time since losing five of its first six in 1998. Auburn has lost five straight to ranked foes, including 45-10 at LSU on Oct. 22, after winning eight such matchups in a row. However, it lost only 26-19 to then-No. 14 Clemson in this year's opener.
Onterio McCalebb ran for a tiebreaking 70-yard touchdown with 5:05 remaining in that game and enters this one after gaining a season-high 128 yards on 11 carries this past Saturday. McCalebb was given only three carries in last year's defeat in Baton Rouge but had 32 yards and a touchdown. Hilliard scored a pair of TDs and had 65 yards on 10 attempts. While Hilliard might start because of Blue's injury, Loston could return from his turf toe problem. If he's back in the lineup, the safety will try to help his team earn a fifth victory in six matchups with Auburn.
Meanwhile, Auburn has allowed 217 yards a game this year, even if the competition has been a bit stouter. (Clemson and Mississippi State might both defeat Washington in head-to-head games.) That's "good" for last in the SEC, and there's little reason to believe that the lackluster Auburn offense will be able to make up the difference. LSU will remain emergence as the top dawg in the SEC and perhaps in the country locking horns again with it's conference rivals come BCS alignment. Best of luck however you play!