(5) LSU 9

(2-1, 0-1 SEC)

(14) Auburn 10

(3-0, 2-0 SEC)

3:30 PM ET, September 18, 2004

Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL

1 2 3 4 T
#5LSU 6 3 0 09
#14AUB 3 0 0 710

Top Performers

Passing: J. Campbell (AUB) - 170 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: A. Broussard (LSU) - 10 CAR, 84 YDS

Receiving: C. Taylor (AUB) - 5 REC, 71 YDS, 1 TD

Early SEC West advantage at stake

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Carnell Williams figures this LSU defense is no match for the swarming, relentless group that smothered him last season.

The question is can No. 14 Auburn's new West Coast offense match No. 5 LSU's still tough defense on Saturday?

"Last year they had no flaws," said Williams, the Tigers' tailback. "They were physical, they had great speed, and they had great cover corners. It was just like they were everywhere. But this year it is not the same.

"I feel like we are a better team from last year, and we are on a roll and have got a pretty good atmosphere going on around here. Things will be a whole lot different this year."

The game's status was up in the air until Friday morning because of Hurricane Ivan, but Auburn's campus didn't have power outages or significant damage from the storm that hit the state Thursday.

If Williams' assessment of Auburn is on the mark, a repeat of last year's 31-7 humbling is unlikely for the team (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference). LSU (2-0, 0-0) didn't allow Williams any room to run in last year's 31-7 win, limiting him to 61 yards on 20 carries.

It's true LSU lost some of its defensive stars and Auburn's offense has shown potential against weaker competition.

Williams and fellow tailback Ronnie Brown looked terrific against Louisiana-Monroe and Mississippi State, and the offense was potent and efficient. But how about against one of the league's top defenses?

"This is our No. 1 test," Auburn receiver Courtney Taylor said. "They're the defending champions. They're going to be hard to block, harder to do different kind of stuff on like we did against Louisiana-Monroe and Mississippi State.

"If we go out there and execute the offense, I honestly don't believe we can be stopped."

LSU coach Nick Saban praised not only Auburn's new offense, but its offensive line play -- a weakpoint in last year's meeting.

Quarterback Jason Campbell has thrown five touchdown passes and been intercepted only once.

"Their offensive line has done a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage in each of their two games so far this year," Saban said. "I think the passing game that they've implemented is something that suits the quarterback, and he seems to feel a little more comfortable in what he's doing."

Saban indicated he will continue to platoon quarterbacks Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell, who were both proficient against overmatched Arkansas State.

"My view of the quarterback situation now is that both quarterbacks can be weapons for our team," Saban said. "I think the best advantage for our team is to use both quarterbacks in that regard.

"Both guys have the ability to do certain things, and we're going to try to plan it so both guys have an opportunity to do that."

Auburn cornerback Junior Rosegreen thinks both quarterbacks present different challenges to the defense, which ranks second in the league against the pass.

"Both of them are tough," Rosegreen said. "JaMarcus Russell stands real tall in the pocket, and he looks you off and likes to throw deep. Marcus Randall throws the short routes and tries to make things happen with his feet. Both of them are hard to prepare for."

And both are familiar to Auburn's coaches. The Tigers recruited Russell, a redshirt freshman from Mobile. Randall threw four interceptions against Auburn two years ago in only his second start.

LSU tailback Justin Vincent isn't taking it for granted that this game will be won by running.

"You never know. They might stop the run," he said. "It might be won through the air. Anything's possible, especially in the SEC."

LSU is trying to reverse a mini-trend in the rivalry. Saban is 0-2 against Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and the last four meetings have been lopsided wins by the home team. Marcus Spears, for one, chalks that up to coincidence.

"I don't think you can put a stamp on the fact that (the home team is) winning by a big margin," the LSU defensive end said. "One team plays well and the other team plays not so well."

Auburn, meanwhile, is trying to prove itself a serious contender for the SEC title after faltering badly in that pursuit last season.

"I think it's an opportunity for the Auburn football team to show the world that we are a good team," Williams said. "What better way to do it than to play the No. (5) team in the country and the defending national champs.

"I can't explain how it's going to be. It's going to be crazy out there."


Passing Leaders

A. Jennings48.91611117
B. Harris55.645262
N. Marshall60.82532207
J. Johnson75.743630

Rushing Leaders

L. Fournette18710345.510
T. Magee1125715.13
C. Artis-Payne30316085.313
N. Marshall1537985.211

Receiving Leaders

T. Dural3775820.57
M. Dupre1431822.75
S. Coates3474121.84
D. Williams4573016.25