Pasquali's Pix: Auburn to escape, Alabama to roll in SEC West showdowns

Pasquali's Pix: Auburn to escape, Alabama to roll in SEC West showdowns

September 13th, 2018 by David Paschall in Sports - Columns

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has led the Tigers to victories over Miami and Southeastern Louisiana, but he likely will face his toughest test so far this season against host Auburn's defense on Saturday.

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has led the Tigers...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

OTHER PICKS

Arkansas 33, North Texas 24

Mississippi State 38, Louisiana-Lafayette 7

Texas A&M 41, Louisiana-Monroe 22

Missouri 31, Purdue 27

Kentucky 34, Murray State 19

Stanford 48, UC-Davis 13

Memphis 31, Georgia State 14

Ohio State 45, TCU 20

Oklahoma 30, Iowa State 21

Texas 24, Southern California 17

Penn State 49, Kent State 10

Clemson 48, Georgia Southern 7

Wisconsin 33, BYU 20

Virginia 22, Ohio 17

Louisville 28, Western Kentucky 21

Michigan 42, SMU 13

Florida State 23, Syracuse 22

 

We knew before the start of this college football season that the Southeastern Conference was loaded at quarterback.

Auburn's Jarrett Stidham, Missouri's Drew Lock and Georgia's Jake Fromm were proven commodities after stellar 2017 showings, while South Carolina's Jake Bentley, Vanderbilt's Kyle Shurmur and Jordan Ta'amu of Ole Miss headed the league's overlooked and underappreciated list.

Two weeks in, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa has been beyond brilliant since surpassing Jalen Hurts on the depth chart, while Texas A&M's Kellen Mond hasn't been too shabby, either.

The jury is still out on LSU's Joe Burrow, the graduate transfer from Ohio State, though this Saturday's trip to Auburn should provide a monster gauge.

"It will be a good test for us, obviously, against a great defense in a hostile crowd," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Wednesday. "I thought he did well against Miami, but this is going to be different. This is a very, very good defense with a dominant front. We're going to have to block, and there is going to be some pressure, but he seems like he's held up to pressure pretty well.

"There is going to be some adversity in this game and some challenging moments. We're going going to find out what we're about, but I think he's going to pass the test and do well."

LSU opened its season with a resounding 33-17 rout of Miami at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with a 50-yard touchdown run by Tigers running back Nick Brossette late in the first quarter and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jacob Phillips late in the half helping turn a 3-3 game into a 27-3 runaway.

Burrow didn't have to do much as a result, completing 11 of 24 passes for 140 yards. He went 10-of-20 for 151 yards and a couple of touchdowns in last week's 31-0 win against Southeastern Louisiana, with the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder's biggest plus so far reflected in LSU being turnover-free.

Saturday's task not only will be big for Burrow but also LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, who was elevated after working last season as tight ends coach. Ensminger coached at Auburn under Tommy Tuberville from 2003 to '08.

"I promise you, that hasn't crossed his mind," Orgeron said. "Steve slept in the office last night. He worked hard last night and is working hard on third downs today. Obviously there are some things on offense that we need to be better at, and I know that's all he's concerned with.

"I don't even know that he remembers that he coached at Auburn — he's so entrenched in being at LSU."

Pasquali's Pix

UTEP at Tennessee: Should the Volunteers prevail, they will have a head coach who wins roughly 67 percent of his games. Vols 45, Miners 10.

Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh: The Panthers claim nine national championships — eight before World War II, with the other for the 1976 team led by coach Johnny Majors and running back Tony Dorsett. A more recent claim to fame is playing in three straight BBVA Compass bowls. Yellow Jackets 31, Panthers 24.

UTC at UT-Martin: The Mocs are 2-0 this season, extending their all-time record to 533-527-35. Mocs 27, Skyhawks 22.

Vanderbilt at Notre Dame: Shurmur ranks 26th nationally in efficiency with four touchdowns and no interceptions, while Fighting Irish counterpart Brandon Wimbush is 87th with one touchdown and four picks. Irish 28, Commodores 19.

LSU at Auburn: Auburn has won five straight games against ranked foes inside Jordan-Hare Stadium by an average of 26.4 points. Auburn 20, LSU 13.

Alabama at Ole Miss: Tagovailoa is 10-for-10 on third-down situations for 207 yards and four touchdowns, resulting in a passer rating of 405.88. Crimson Tide 55, Rebels 24.

Colorado State at Florida: It's the Jim McElwain Bowl minus Jim McElwain. Gators 29, Rams 20.

Middle Tennessee State at Georgia: The Bulldogs have come a mighty long way against nonconference opposition since their 26-24 win over Nicholls State just two Septembers ago. Bulldogs 52, Blue Raiders 13.

Last week

Winners — 20

Fedoras — 5

Pasquali is 42-8 overall (84.0 percent) this season.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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