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A Night In Death Valley Looms

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By Mike Hamilton
WJLX 101.5 Analyst

There are few venues in college football that compare to a night kick in Tiger Stadium. Former LSU coach
Ed Orgeron once said: “Death Valley is where opponents’ dreams come to die”, and with good reason.
The environment has garnered fame across the sport after willing their team to countless victories
where they otherwise might have fallen, and as a college football fan in general, I can’t wait to
experience it.

I’ll be traveling down to watch Auburn’s clash in Baton Rouge Saturday night for the annual “Tiger
Bowl”, a rivalry that has yielded several storied games across it’s long running history. Sadly, this game
will be rotating off the schedule next year as a result of conference expansion. Auburn, coming off a bye
week, will enter this game as an 11 point underdog looking change their fortune from years prior. What
fortune you ask? Auburn has exactly one win at Tiger stadium since 1999, so that should tell you
everything you need to know.

Trying to predict what will happen in this game is close to impossible given the trajectory of both teams
up to this point. LSU is a statistical anomaly boasting the leagues top offense paired with the leagues
worst defense. Shoot-outs are kind of their thing, and the visiting Tigers want to avoid this kind of game
at all costs. Auburn doesn’t have an offense capable of keeping up with LSU’s scoring pace, but Auburn
does have an above average defense with two weeks of preparation behind them. Auburn will look to
pair strong red zone defense (ideally) with a heavy dose of RPO (run pass option, emphasis on the run)
concepts on offense to bleed clock and keep LSU QB Jayden Daniels on the sideline. This is Auburn’s best
path to success as stated by AU coach Hugh Freeze, myself, and anyone else trying to figure out how
Auburn can pull this win off. LSU will cruise to victory if Auburn can’t find multiple redzone stops, or limit
Jayden Daniels in any other way.

If this game was being played at Auburn, I’d be a lot more confident in picking an upset here. Auburn
won’t have that luxury for this game however, and I expect the crowd to shake the visiting team at
various points in this contest. Don’t take this to your bookie, because crazy things happen in college
football every single week, but I like LSU 37-27 here. Every college game is different, and this isn’t a
healthy analytical practice, but if Auburn can hang 20 (should’ve been more) on Georgia, they should
find similar success against this far less revered LSU defense. I just don’t think Auburn will be able to
keep the LSU offense at bay, and I also expect the crowd to play a factor in this one. Football games
aren’t played on paper, so I’m excited to see what happens on the field Saturday night. Go Tigers.