AUBURN - Auburn and LSU will arrive at Saturday's epic clash at Jordan-Hare Stadium from distinctly different directions.
Auburn made to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference on the strength of the league's best offense. LSU made it to 7-0 and 3-0 on the strength of the league's best defense.
Auburn leads the SEC in scoring offense at 40.7 points per game, in total offense at 481.1 points per game, in rushing offense at 283.7 points per game and in pass efficiency. LSU leads the SEC in total defense at 242.1 yards per game, rushing defense at 83.6 yards per game, in pass defense at 158.6 yards per game and is second in scoring defense at 14.4 points per game.
LSU is 10th in scoring defense at 26.7 points per game, 10th in total offense at 328.6 yards per game. last in passing offense at 140.3 yards per game and fourth in rushing offense at 188.3 yards per game. Auburn is eighth in scoring defense at 24.4 points per game, ninth in total defense at 367.9 yards per game, 11th in pass defense at 266.1 yards per game and third in rushing defense at 101.1 yards per game.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton leads the league in rushing offense with 122.9 yards per game. LSU tailback Steven Ridley is second at 98 yards per game. Newton leads in total offense at 305.4 yards per game and in pass efficiency.
All-America LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson averages 21.1 yards per punt return, best in the SEC, and has returned two for touchdowns. He is second in punt returns at 28.2 yards per return.
Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee split time at quarterback. Jefferson, the running quarterback has 207 yards on 62 carries. Lee, the passer, has completed 36-of-50 for 405 yards and two touchdowns.
KUDOS FOR CLAYTON: For all the struggles Auburn's defense had in last Saturday's 65-43 win over Arkansas, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said their were some performances worthy of recognition.
"You give up 43 points, you don’t want to hand out a lot of superlatives, but in the fourth quarter there were some really, really good things," Roof said. " There was the effort Mike Blanc, Daren Bates made and Craig Stevens made to get to the ballcarrier on the short-yardage play we scooped and scored on.
"I’ll tell you a guy who is not getting a lot of recognition but is playing really well is Zach Clayton. He’s a guy that has a lot of respect from his teammates and the staff. He’s playing really well inside."
NEWTON SHRUGS OFF BCS: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton doesn't like to talk about growing speculation that he is a leading candidate, maybe the leading candidate, for the Heisman Trophy. And he didn't want to talk much Sunday about the Tigers being No. 4 in the first BCS standings.
"That’s music to my ears," Newton said. "At the same time, we can’t dwell on that. It’s really not important right now. We are just going to continue to do our jobs, execute and play good football."
READY TO MAKE AMENDS:: With senior Aairon Savage lost indefinitely, sophomore Ikeem Means figures to move into the playing rotation at safety. But regardless of who plays, he said the players in the secondary are tired of what they are hearing and ready to do something about it.
"You hear a lot about how it is basically the secondary is making us weak on defense," Means said. "We’re just really fed up with hearing all that talk on ESPN saying we’re the weak link. We are just going to try to improve."
NO REST FOR THE WEARY: Auburn has played seven games without an open date and must play four before it gets one. The grind, senior offensive lineman Byron Isom said, takes a toll.
"It definitely gets tougher each week, but it gets tougher on everybody across the country," Isom said. "We don’t really use that as an excuse."
Isom said a perfect record makes it easier to cope.
"It definitely does," Isom said. "You have a whole different mindset when it comes to practice and where your body is."
RUNNING FOR HISTORY: Auburn has broken the 300-yard rushing barrier in three consecutive games. That's the first time that has been accomplished since the school started keeping such records in 1967. Senior guard Mike Berry was surprised and pleased to hear it.
"Not even when Bo was here?" Berry said. "That's real big. Putting up offensive numbers like that is definitely big. We're definitely proud of it."
LSU LINEBACKER IMPRESSED: LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard has seen enough of Newton to know LSU's defense will face a serious challenge.
"You'd be a fool to sit here and lie and say there is something he doesn't do right," Sheppard said. "Every time you turn on ESPN, you see a big 6-6 250 reversing field, making great throws, really just leading the ballclub. He does everything for his team."
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