Work in Sports
AUBURN, Alabama (Ticker) -- Nick Saban's first big test as coach of Louisiana State comes tonight at Jordan-Hare Stadium, when the Tigers visit 24th-ranked Auburn for a Southeastern Conference West Division affair.
LSU (2-0, 0-0 SEC West) has opened the Saban era with a blowout of Western Carolina and a fairly easy 28-13 victory over Houston last weekend. But now things get serious with the SEC opener against Auburn's version of the Tigers (2-0, 1-0).
Auburn can be considered one of the surprise teams of the early season. It has scored 35 points in victories over Wyoming and Mississippi, the latter on the road in Oxford in an emotionally charged contest. Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville also coached at Mississippi.
Much of the success, both past and future, seems to rest on the capable shoulders of junior college transfer Rudi Johnson, who has rushed for 339 yards and five touchdowns in his first two Division I-A contests.
LSU has allowed just 90 yards per game on the ground this season, so Johnson should be tested.
Offensively, LSU has gotten strong play from Josh Booty. The one-time Florda Marlins prospect has completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 468 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions as he steadily improves.
This series has produced some high-scoring games in recent seasons, but Auburn was the only team putting points on the board last year as it rolled to a 41-7 victory in Baton Rouge. In fact, the last four games between the schools have been won by the visitor.
Seven of the last 10 Auburn-LSU games have been decided by less than a touchdown and each time these teams play rekindles memories of a college football classic at Tiger Stadium in 1988.
LSU scored with 1:41 remaining to beat fourth-ranked Auburn, 7-6, tha year. The crowd noise when the Tigers entered the end zone was so loud that it registered on a campus seismograph and was coined the "Earthquake Game."
LSU leads the all-time series, 18-15-1.
Three former Auburn assistants are currently part of Saban's staff. They are offensive coordinator-quarterbacks coach Jimbo Fisher, defensive line coach Pete Jenkins and assistant head coach-offensive line coach Rick Trickett.