Traveling to Death Valley in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is one of the more intimidating tasks a college football team can face. No. 22 Auburn has drawn that task this weekend, ready to take on the challenge as it will roll into LSU for one of the sport's best rivalries. This game has seen earthquakes, hurricanes and enough drama to write a 1,000-page epic novel. It almost never ceases to amaze, no matter where either team ranks among the various programs around the country.
This year's edition features two teams coming off interesting Week 4 results. Auburn survived a massive scare from Georgia State, scoring two touchdowns in the final minute with backup T.J. Finley to escape with a 34-24 win. LSU topped Mississippi State 28-25, but was in control for the majority of Saturday afternoon's game in Starkville, Mississippi.
What will happen in Death Valley when the Tigers meet? Let's preview the matchup and make picks straight up and against the spread.
Auburn vs. LSU: Need to know
Auburn's quarterback question: Bo Nix was pulled in favor of Finley last week in what became a surprisingly dramatic win over Georgia State. Coach Bryan Harsin was non-committal about who will start on Saturday night, but keep an eye on Finley, who started five games last year for LSU. He showed the ability to handle pressure in a pinch against Georgia State, throwing the game-winning touchdown toss with multiple defenders in the backfield on fourth down with under a minute to play. Nix has thrown 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in road/neutral site games since he arrived at Auburn, so it might be time for Harsin to ride the hot hand.
LSU's rushing attack ... or lack thereof: One of the biggest issues facing LSU coach Ed Orgeron this season has been the massive struggle running the football. Granted, John Emery Jr. hasn't been available due to academic problems, but 80 yards per game puts them 13th in the SEC, ahead of only the Mississippi State. Georgia State, on the other hand, had success running the ball on the Tigers, a big reason it stayed in the game for all four quarters. This will be the most critical unit of LSU's offense to watch.
Pressure on Coach O: Mississippi State wasn't much of a threat, Central Michigan was a breeze and McNeese State was a cupcake. The game against Auburn is the first tough matchup for LSU since it lost to UCLA in the season-opener. Orgeron isn't necessarily on the "hot seat," but that could change if he continues to fail in big games as the season goes on. A home loss to an Auburn team that isn't exactly a juggernaut could warm things up in a hurry.
How to watch Auburn vs. LSU live
Date: Saturday, Oct. 2 | Time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: Tiger Stadium -- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Auburn vs. LSU prediction, picks
I'll take LSU to win and cover due in large part to Auburn's recent defensive struggles. The Tigers from the Plains are giving up 6.5 yards per play, and the secondary will have a tough time stopping LSU quarterback Max Johnson and star wide receiver Kayshon Boutte. Don't get me wrong, this won't be a blowout -- far from it -- but Johnson will make a play or two late to get out of there with a win. Prediction: LSU (-3.5)
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