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Playing Nice: College and Magnolia

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Halloween and Waffle House

college and mag

Well it’s Auburn week, but Saturday will be a different kind of LSU-Auburn matchup than what we’re used to. Saturday will be the first time since 2001 where were both LSU and Auburn were unranked when they played each other. That 2001 game was also the start of LSU’s home winning streak over Auburn, and here’s your friendly reminder Auburn hasn’t won in Baton Rouge in 21 years. The streak can now go to L’Auberge. Buy it a drink next time you see it!

Anyway, LSU’s had success on the Plains too. Remember the last time these two got together in Jordan Hare?

Good stuff! This week our friend Ryan from College and Magnolia dropped by to preview the Other Tigers.

What kind of Auburn devil Halloween magic do you all have in store for LSU this week?

First of all, let’s acknowledge the travesty that is all of us missing out on a Halloween Auburn/LSU tailgate. I had high hopes for that day, but I guess I will just have to drink and binge Mandalorian alone instead.

As for the game, who knows what’s in store for us this week. The Auburn/LSU rivalry has been the wildest pairing in college football going on 40 years now, between building fires, infuriating replays, earthquakes, coach firings, missed field goals, “stiff dews”... should I keep going? This one has all the makings of a shootout, with both offenses settling in to what they know they can do. But my magic eight ball tells me some replay shenanigans are going to lead to some undeserved points, and that a certain sister-site of ours (not naming any names) is going to be furious about it.

LSU has been god awful at stopping the run and now has to play Auburn whose running back is literally named Tank. Seems bad! How do you slow this Auburn rushing attack?

This is a tough one to answer. Auburn’s found a new life on offense this season behind Tank Bigsby, who looks like the second-coming of Cadillac Williams (aptly, Tank’s position coach) to the Auburn faithful. Ever since he’s been handed the gig full time, he’s been nearly unstoppable, to the point that you could argue Auburn’s contending for the best rushing offense in the SEC. He leads the nation in missed tackles per carry, so I would say the key to slowing him down would be overcommitting and swarming to him. You just have to make Bo Nix beat you, which has been a coin flip at best so far in his career.

I mean this in the nicest way possible: is Bo Nix good? It’s been two years and I still don’t see it. What’s the Nix consensus? Is it possible LSU actually has the advantage at quarterback?

As one of my colleague’s Son of Crow likes to put it, Bo Nix is what you would get if you had someone try to emulate Johnny Manziel, but only ever listen to his games on the radio. While he is a solid runner in his own right, he’s never been in an offense that had a good pass blocking line, including in high school. This has led to him having severe happy feet, so that he leaves the pocket even when the pass rush isn’t close. Unlike some guys with that problem, though, he is pretty good at keeping his wits about him on the move, picking up decent yards on the ground or finding guys to dump off to. Despite his cowboy style, he also does a decent job of limiting turnovers (10 interceptions in 550 attempts, 3 of them in one game). All of this to say… we still don’t know if he’s good. Auburn fans struggle to remember that he’s still a true sophomore, and I think because of his big wins against Oregon and Alabama, he’s had the weight of the program on him going into the year. If Auburn can lean on its ground game and allow Bo to hit on more play-action passes, and allow him to use his legs in a more organized manner, I think we will ultimately see Bo develop into a top tier SEC quarterback. He’s just not there right now, and coaching hasn’t helped him in the slightest.

Last year Auburn’s defense played the LSU offense as well as anybody thanks in large part to their two stud DTs Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown. We know Big Kat Bryant is awesome, who else on Auburn’s defense could cause problems for the Tiger offense?

Auburn fans (and Kevin Steele) are certainly feeling the effects of losing two of the best defensive lineman to have suited up here. While Bryant is a leader on the line, he’s nowhere near the caliber of player as either of those guys, and a leg injury has slowed him down even more. Auburn is squarely in a rebuilding phase on the defensive line, with no consistent pass rush and iffy at best run stuffing.

The Auburn defense runs through its linebackers this year. Despite being extremely undermanned (All-SEC linebacker KJ Britt had hand surgery, top backup Chandler Wooten opted out), Auburn’s top two guys have played great this year. Zakoby McClain (of Iron Bowl Butt-Pick-Six fame) and Owen Pappoe are the new breed of linebacker, lean with top end speed that allows them to cover the whole field. They don’t miss tackles, and can keep up with both tight ends and running backs in coverage.Your best bet is to scheme ways to get them into a numbers disadvantage, and force the line to make plays.

Finally inspired by OneMan2Beat’s tweet from last week, what’s Gus’s Waffle House order?

First of all, there is no wrong order at Waffle House. Waffle House loves all, accepts all, and judges not. We could all use a little more Waffle House in 2020. But for Gus specifically?