BATON ROUGE, La. -- To Auburn coach Gene Chizik, No. 2 LSU is playing "at the top of its game." But that game, to this point, has not been against opponents like Auburn that are built to combat physical SEC opponents like LSU and have the resources to get it done. With LSU heading to the Plains, what will that mean Saturday when the two SEC West Tigers meet?
1. An opportunity, a stumbling block?
For 1-2 Auburn, a win Saturday would erase the memories of early struggles, including losses to Clemson and Mississippi State and a near-loss, in overtime, against Louisiana-Monroe while cooling down the seat of coach Gene Chizik. For 3-0 LSU, Auburn represents the first team with the physicality and SEC speed to challenge LSU at its strengths.
2. Young Guns
LSU first-year starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger will make his first SEC start and his first road start Saturday, trying to build off a solid, though far-from-perfect start to his first season as Tigers quarterback. AU's Kiehl Frazier, also a first-year starter, has completed barely 50 percent of his passes while throwing more than twice as many interceptions (five) as touchdowns (two).
3. A special day
Both teams have outstanding special teams. LSU kicker Drew Alleman was the SEC's most accurate field goal kicker last season and is 4-for-5 this year, punter Brad Wing is an all-America, and return specialist Odell Beckham Jr., has a touchdown return. Auburn has blocked three kicks, and kick returner Onterio McCalebb has a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
4. Ferocious fronts
The game features three of the SEC's most feared pass rushers in LSU's tandem of Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo -- off to slow starts with one quarterback sack between them -- and AU's Corey Lemonier, who already has three sacks and a blocked field goal.
5. Hare-raising home field
For LSU, AU's Jordan-Hare Stadium has been an unfriendly venue with AU winning five of the last six meetings there, a span that includes the years of LSU's most successful coaches of its modern era -- current coach Les Miles and Nick Saban.