LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has quickly silenced last year’s critics with nine touchdown passes and no interceptions in the first three games of the season, outpacing his run in 2012. That kind of offensive proficiency is probably of big concern to Auburn as they try to snap a nine-game losing streak to ranked opponents on Saturday night against No. 6 LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
In his first year as full-time starter, Mettenberger threw for 2,609 yards and 12 touchdowns, but was intercepted seven times. Those turnovers proved costly in the Tigers losses over Florida and Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. But the senior has roared back for 797 passing yards, as LSU beat then-No. 20 TCU to open the season, then torched UAB and Kent St by an average of 35.5 points.
Receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry have been the main beneficiary of the quarterback’s evolution, tallying 32 catches for 576 yards and nine touchdowns.
Ego Ferguson and Jermauria Rasco anchor head coach Les Miles’s defense, giving up 3.3 yards per rush and 19 points a game. The Tigers have six sacks on the season.
Auburn’s last victory over a ranked school came in 2011 against Mississippi State, but they started off 3-0 for the first time since 2010’s national title run. It is a strong start for a program that finished with a 4-8 record in 2012.
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Junior quarterback Nick Marshall leads the offense with 585 passing yards and four touchdowns after three games. Marshall has also posted 102 rushing yards on 27 carries.
Auburn began their SEC schedule last week against Mississippi St., and just edged out the victory after Marshall hit tight end C.J. Uzomah for an 11-yard touchdown with 10 seconds remaining. The play made up for Marshall’s two interceptions, and the 202 rushing yards given up by the Auburn defense.
The Auburn defense has only given up one touchdown pass this season. Opponents have turned the ball over four times against Auburn.
"We're a work in progress," first-year coach Gus Malzahn said, according to the Associated Press. "But it's a good progress."
The game kicks off at 7:45 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by ESPN, or watch a live online stream at Watch ESPN here.
Betting Odds: LSU favored by 17.5 points.
Over/Under: 56 points
Prediction: LSU 40, Auburn 20