Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Auburn Tigers: Complete Game Preview
The Arkansas Razorbacks travel to Auburn, Alabama this Saturday to take on the Auburn Tigers at 11:00 a.m. CT on ESPN2.
This is the 22nd meeting between the Tigers and Razorbacks, with the Tigers leading the series 11-9-1 overall. The line for the game has Auburn as the favorite, but both teams have had issues down the stretch, especially Auburn, which enters the game 1-3, .
The Tigers lead the series 5-3-1 at home, winning the 2010 matchup that went down to the wire. Last season, the Hogs blasted the Tigers in Fayetteville, Arkansas, 38-14. The Razorbacks are not nearly as potent on offense this fall, and lack the playmakers on defense that lead that 2011 team.
This will be a key matchup for both of these teams, as they head into the important month of October seeking their first SEC wins.
Here's all you need to know about the upcoming matchup between the Razorbacks and Tigers.
John Reed-US PRESSWIRE
Who: Arkansas at Auburn
When: Saturday, 11 a.m. (CST)
Where: Auburn, AL.
Stadium: Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,541)
Series History: 11-9-1 (Auburn)
Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network; Radio Listings
Internet Stream: WatchESPN.com/ Radio feed on AuburnTigers.com through CBSSports.com College Network Stream subscription/ Auburn Mobile App
Depth Chart for the Auburn Tigers
John Reed-US PRESSWIRE
|Wildcat QB|| 12
|Running Back||23||Onterio McCalebb|| 5'11"
|21||Tre Mason|| 5'10"
|22||Mike Blakely||5'9"||206||Rs. Fr.|
|Full Back||35||Jay Prosch||6'0"||260||Jr.|
|18||Sammie Coates||6'2"||200||Rs. Fr.|
|Wide Receiver||1||Trovon Reed||6'0"||190||So.|
|Tight End||43||Philip Lutzenkirchen
|Left Tackle||73||Greg Robinson|| 6'5"
||311|| Rs. Fr.
|72||Shon Coleman||6'6"||302||Rs. Fr.|
|Left Guard||71||John Sullen||6'5"||313||Sr.|
|Right Guard||62||Chad Slade||6'5"||301||So.|
|75||Christian Westerman||6'4"||298||Rs. Fr.|
|Right Tackle||51||Patrick Miller||6'7"||288||Fr.|
|Defensive End||95||Dee Ford||6'2"||246||Sr.|
|D. Tackle||54||Jeffrey Whitaker||6'4"||307||Jr.|
|D. Tackle||98||Angelo Blackson||6'4"||308||So.|
|Defensive End||55||Corey Lemonier||6'4"||246||Jr.|
|Strong-side LB||35||Jonathan Evans||5'11"||231||Sr.|
|26||Justin Garrett|| 6'1"
|Middle LB||5||Jake Holland||6'1"||241||Jr.|
|Weak-side LB||25||Daren Bates||5'11"||215||Sr.|
|17||Kris Frost||6'2"||233||Rs. Fr.|
|Free Safety||12||Demetruce McNeal||6'2"||187||Jr.|
|Strong Safety||9||Jermaine Whitehead||5'11"||202||So.|
|Kick Return||23||Onterio McCalebb||5'11"||174||So.|
|Punt Return||1||Trovon Reed||6'0"||190||So.|
Depth Chart for the Arkansas Razorbacks
Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
|Running Back||7||Knile Davis||6'0"||226||Jr.|
|Wide Receiver||82||Mekale McKay||6'6"||190||Fr.|
|Wide Receiver||11||Cobi Hamilton||6'3"||209||Sr.|
|Wide Receiver||15||Keante Minor||6'0"||205||So.|
|Tight End||80||Chris Gragg||6'3"||242||Sr.|
|Left Tackle||69||David Hurd||6'6"||300||Jr.|
|Left Guard||76||Tyler Deacon||6'4"||300||Sr.|
|Right Guard||67||Alvin Bailey||6'5"||312||Jr.|
|Right Tackle||74||Brey Cook||6'7"||308||So.|
|Defensive End||86||Trey Flowers||6'4"||243||So.|
|D. Tackle||92||DeQuinta Jones||6'5"||299||Sr.|
|D. Tackle||54||Byran Jones||6'2"||312||Jr.|
|Defensive End||42||Chris Smith||6'3"||251||Jr.|
|Strong-side LB||39||Jarrett Lake||6'3"||223||Jr.|
|Middle LB||43||Tenarius Wright||6'2"||252||Sr.|
|Weak-side LB||45||Alonzo Highsmith||6'1"||233||Sr.|
|Free Safety||35||Ross Rasner||6'0"||212||Sr.|
|Strong Safety||14||Eric Bennett||6'0"||206||Jr.|
|Kick Return||33||Dennis Johnson||5'9"||213||Sr.|
|Punt Return||33||Dennis Johnson||5'9"||213||Sr.|
What Happened to Auburn Last Week
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Auburn had a bye-week last week, stopping some of the bleeding that has come with this season so far. The Tigers last took the field against No. 4 LSU, and finished with a heartbreaking loss.
Auburn played the game as well as anyone could have hoped for defensively, holding the LSU offense to a its lowest yardage count of the season, 351 yards.
There were a number of big plays that came from young players throughout the game for the Tigers. Joshua Holsey sticks out as a player that worked his way into the spotlight. A true freshman, Holsey made one of the best defensive plays of the game, stopping a touchdown pass to Russell Shepard late in the game in man coverage.
Auburn also saw a lot of growth out of Tre Mason. Mason ended the game with a six-yards-per-carry average, and showed glimpses of all-star ability.
The story of the day for Auburn was the defense. The interior defensive line played a much better game, forcing turnovers and stops throughout the contest. There were a few big runs that the Bayou Bengals were able to rip off, but the overall defensive line performance was very impressive.
The Tigers held a 10-9 lead at halftime, but a mid-third-quarter fumble on a punt return by Quan Bray set the Bayou Bengals up with a short field.
LSU was able to drive down the field and kick the game-winning field goal, taking the lead 12-10.
Auburn had the chance to convert some key first downs and could have moved within field-goal range, but mishaps and penalties continued to haunt them, keeping them away from scoring position.
What Happened to Arkansas Last Week
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Arkansas faced its worst loss of the season this past Saturday, losing to Texas A&M 58-10. The Razorbacks were in the game in the first quarter, but in short order the Aggies took over.
Throughout the game there was an expectation that Tyler Wilson would pull the Hogs back into it, but he was nowhere near the comeback kid, throwing two interceptions and only one touchdown. The Arkansas rushing attack was also less than effective, finishing with only 142 yards on the ground.
Cobi Hamilton had another big day for Arkansas, catching 11 passes for 162 yards. The senior continues to gain popularity and increase his name recognition as each game passes.
The Arkansas defense is the more glaring issue right now for the Razorbacks. The Hogs looked absolutely terrible against the Texas A&M Aggies. A&M outgunned the Razorbacks on the outside, and they were able to create a lot of running room in the center of the line.
The Aggies had 12 different players catch passes in the game against Arkansas. They were able to spread the ball around and create a lot of mismatches for the Arkansas defense.
One of the most surprising things in the game was the pressure that the Aggies were able to get on the Razorbacks. Tyler Wilson was hit on virtually every throw by the last quarter. Wilson had issues getting his passes out before the rush hit, and lacked accuracy in the later quarters.
Texas A&M was able to get its first SEC win in history in blowout fashion against the Razorbacks. John L. Smith firing rumors have begun.
Easy folks, his contract is only for 10 months anyway.
What It Means to Both Teams
Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
This is a pivotal game for both Auburn and Arkansas. With both teams deep in the hole early in the season, this game will be a turning point. Before the season, this was expected to be a top- 25 matchup, not a morning kickoff game.
For Arkansas, this could be a rallying point. Tyler Wilson could turn his mediocre season around and become the star that everyone expected.
This could be a game that John L. Smith gets a nod of good faith, or is destroyed in the media and public forums yet again.
The Razorbacks need this win or the season is finished. There is no way the Razorbacks will claw back from a 1-5 start.
For Auburn, there is still a chance at a salvageable season. The Tigers have faced a lot of adversity with the wins they've earned so far this year, with an overtime win against Louisiana-Monroe not meeting the need of the average Auburn fan.
The Tigers could use this win to launch themselves back into the competition highway, setting them up for a march to bowl eligibility.
Key Player for Auburn
John Reed-US PRESSWIRE
The Tigers head into the game against Arkansas struggling on offense. They are extremely inconsistent, and can’t find a groove.
A big part of the problem for the Tigers has been the lack of a rushing attack. The Auburn offense is attempting to live off of a play-action passing game, and the Tigers are lacking consistency on the ground.
That strategy doesn’t add up.
Arkansas is getting torched by opposing defenses through the air, coming in at the No. 113 spot for pass-efficiency defense. Overall, the Razorbacks are ranked No. 116 in the country defensively, giving up 510 yards a game.
Auburn’s best chance to gain a lot of yards and take the edge in the game is to follow Tre Mason to the end zone.
Mason took the ball nine times two Saturdays ago against LSU, and was able to earn six yards a carry. Why hold Mason to less than 10 carries with that type of success?
This Saturday, Mason needs to have another big game. Getting the ball to Mason 15 or more times will do wonders for the Tigers offense.
Key Player for Arkansas
Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
Knile Davis will be the key to the Arkansas game plan this Saturday against Auburn.
Tyler Wilson will be a key player, but his day will rely on the ability of Davis to find rushing room and gain the attention of the Tigers defense.
Through the first few weeks of the season, Davis is not having the type of year that he was expecting. This is the same back that told the media that he was the best back in the SEC.
Davis is averaging 3.3 yards per carry right now, and has only accounted for two touchdowns on the ground.
Watching the way that Texas A&M attacked the Arkansas offense, Auburn has a clear blueprint to beat Arkansas in the same fashion.
The A&M defense was able to pin its ears back and tear through Wilson on a regular basis. There was no concern that the Razorbacks would get a big gain in the rushing game.
Without Knile Davis creating some plays on the ground, the Tigers defense will be able to call for a free-for-all on Tyler Wilson, stopping any chance the Arkansas offense has at producing consistent, winning results this Saturday.
Auburn Will Win If...
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Auburn will win this game if two things go right.
The Tigers have to get a quality pass rush on Tyler Wilson, and the offense has to move the ball on the ground.
If the Tigers can find ways to consistently get after Tyler Wilson, they will create a lot of issues for the Arkansas offense. Last week against Texas A&M the strategy was put in play to perfection.
Tyler Wilson was constantly staring down pressure and was forcing throws into holes that weren’t there, trying to get rid of the football before taking a sack.
Wilson has not looked impressive against a consistent pass rush this season. Even before he fell to injury against Louisiana-Monroe, he was having issues with the pass rush. Auburn has two of the best defensive ends in the league in Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford. They should make it a long game for Wilson.
The second key to Auburn’s success is the run game. The Tigers will do two things by having success on the ground.
Auburn will give Kiehl Frazier confidence by providing consistent drives, and the run game will eat up the time of possession in the game. It doesn’t take long for Tyler Wilson and Cobi Hamilton to score on a defense. The less time they have with the ball, the better for Auburn.
Time of possession has been a struggle already this season for the Tigers. There hasn’t been a reliance on the ground game like there needs to be, pushing the Tigers into a lot of 3-and-out situations.
If Auburn runs the ball and puts pressure on Wilson, the Tigers win this game.
Arkansas Will Win If...
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The Arkansas Razorbacks need a big win this Saturday to gain back some hope of a productive season. Theoretically, the Razorbacks can still make it to a bowl game, but the turnaround has to happen now.
Arkansas will win this game against Auburn if Tyler Wilson doesn’t turn the football over, and if the Hogs can stop the rushing attack for Auburn.
Tyler Wilson is the gauge for the Arkansas team. Whenever Wilson is not able to perform, the Razorbacks lose big. Wilson can’t afford to give the ball away in this game. Every drive will count for the Hogs offense. Key interceptions are what gave Texas A&M the runaway win last Saturday.
Auburn is going to try and run the ball to control the clock and keep the ball from the explosive Arkansas offense. Arkansas needs to focus on stopping the Tigers' rushing attack and keeping Auburn drives short.
Arkansas will be playing in a very hostile Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Razorbacks will be able to take the crowd out of the game with a fast start by limiting the Tigers drives.
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Auburn and Arkansas both need this win. With only two wins between them, both teams are severely underperforming in the 2012 season.
Arkansas will look to pass on the Auburn defense, getting Cobi Hamilton the ball on the perimeter, allowing him to make plays for the Razorbacks.
The Tigers will look to limit the Arkansas passing attack by getting to Tyler Wilson consistently with the defensive pass rush. The Arkansas offensive line has struggled to keep opposing defenders off of Wilson this season, and that has led to the majority of Wilson’s turnovers.
If Auburn wants to stop the Arkansas pass, they can’t focus on Hamilton. If they do, they will get scorched. The defense needs to stay aggressive.
Auburn has to find yards on the ground against Arkansas. The key for Auburn will be time of possession and rushing yardage. The Tigers can control the Arkansas offense by keeping the football.
The Tigers have the ability to push for big yards on the ground, but to do it they have to be dedicated to the early downs and not put themselves in 2-and-longs early in the game.
This will be a fun game to watch on Saturday morning. This should jump-start what will be a great day of college football.
Auburn 31, Arkansas 17