LSU and Auburn clash Saturday in what essentially could serve as an elimination game in the SEC West Division race.
Kickoff for the nationally televised game (CBS) at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn is 3:30 p.m. ET.
Technically, of course, the winner will have only one leg up in the race and the loser will be far from eliminated. But the loser also will be effectively two games back in the race with the winner holding the tiebreaker.
Both will have later dates with conference and division favorite Alabama -- Auburn on Nov. 24 in Tuscaloosa and LSU at home in Tiger Stadium on Nov. 3.
Both teams enter 2-0 after posting noteworthy wins over ranked opponents in their openers -- Auburn 21-16 over No. 10 Washington and LSU 33-17 over No. 21 Miami -- and follow-up routs of FCS foes last week.
LSU beat Southeastern Louisiana 31-0 and was rewarded with a No. 12 ranking this week. Auburn is No. 7 after its 63-9 trouncing of Alabama State.
"Any time LSU and Auburn get together, it's going to be big," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. "And then, of course, it's obviously the home opener in the SEC West."
The two teams have alternated wins on their own turf since LSU ran off a three-win streak that included a win at Auburn in 2012. That would seem to be a point in Auburn's favor for this meeting.
"It is a tremendous advantage to play at home," LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said. "Being a great football team, you have to win on the road. You have to win on the road in the SEC in hostile environments.
"We have to go up there and play very good. It's going to be 60 minutes and it's going to be an all-out battle. This is a better football team than Miami. We know that. It's a big rivalry."
It figures to be a bruising matchup as well.
"This goes way back in history that whenever LSU and Auburn get together, it's going to be a physical game," Malzahn said. "They know that, we know that. It's always a good one, so the intensity will be very high."
After rushing for only 147 yards against the Huskies, Auburn got back to its usual rushing level with 429 yards in the win over Alabama State. Junior Kam Martin is the starter at running back, but redshirt freshman JaTarvious Whitlow is the leading rusher with 150 yards and a 6.8 per-carry average.
He and freshman Shaun Shivers both posted 100-yard rushing games against Alabama State, with Whitlow going for 124 and Shivers 117.
"He's really impressed us in scrimmages," Malzahn said of Shivers. "He's a tough guy. He's a real physical guy, even though he's not big in stature. He really runs hard, and low to the ground. He did a good job when he was in there."
In all, freshmen accounted for 358 yards of Auburn's 429 rushing total against Alabama State.
"There's nothing like carries in a game," Malzahn said. "Four freshmen carried the football. That was by design. We want to give those guys a chance to show what they can do."
LSU, which has received 100-yard rushing games out of Nick Brosette both times out, hopes to get off to another strong start and finish stronger after fading near the end of its first two games. After building a 33-3 lead over Miami, LSU gave up two late touchdowns. Against Southeastern Louisiana, LSU led 24-0 at the half and scored only one more time in the second half.
"There will be a lot of things we have to face this week," Orgeron said at his weekly news conference. "First of all, we have to fix ourselves.
"There's some things that we can fix. There are some technical errors that we can fix."