At Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, there's a good deal on the line. No. 18 LSU needs a win, and so does Auburn. Both teams of Tigers have had decent early season moments, but LSU is a shaky 2-1 and Auburn is 1-2.
Someone will lose this game and be completely out of the College Football Playoff hunt before the calendar flips to October, and that wouldn't be an enviable position for either Les Miles or Gus Malzahn.
LSU lost in Week 1 against Wisconsin, then replaced starting quarterback Brandon Harris with Purdue transfer Danny Etling in the middle of the second game. (It's the heyday now for Purdue quarterbacks in the SEC.) Etling seems maybe a little bit secure in the job for now, but Miles' job might be on the line, and it's not hard to see him going back to Harris if things don't work out well in the early going against Auburn.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: 6 p.m. ET, ESPN. The broadcasters are Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, and Quint Kessenich.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: LSU opened as a 4.5-point favorite.
Three big things to know
1. Does the loser get fired eventually? It seems pretty possible. Malzahn's seat looks really, really toasty, and Miles almost got fired last season. Someone's either going to be 1-3 or 2-2, and neither is particularly acceptable at these particular schools. Someone will survive Saturday looking better than before, but someone won't. It could be a long few hours (and couple of days afterward) for either Malzahn or Miles.
2. Etling's trying to hold onto the LSU starter's job. Harris is a more talented runner, and Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron spoke positively about Harris coming into the season. Presumably, LSU doesn't think Harris is done forever after a couple of bad games. To stay on the field, Etling needs to be good, and that might be a tall order against a strong Auburn defense. (Malzahn's team is now best on defense, not offense, if you're looking for an indicator of how weird a year this has been.)
3. Sean White's got to pull off a trick. The LSU defense isn't forgiving, either, and White isn't in a drastically different situation than Etling. Auburn has a more athletic backup option sitting around in junior college transfer John Franklin III, and while White's held the job so far, it doesn't have to be that way forever. He needs a good game as much as his coach.