In an SEC matchup that has lost a lot of luster since the season started, the struggling Arkansas Razorbacks take on the Auburn Tigers.
Arkansas started the season ranked in the top 10 of both the AP and USA Today polls. Six weeks later, the Razorbacks find themselves buried in last place in the SEC West and tied with Kentucky for the worst record (1-4, 0-2 in SEC) in the conference.
Auburn would be in last place in the Western Division if not for Arkansas. The Tigers boast an 0-2 conference record and are just 1-3 overall. They did give LSU a great game two weeks ago before falling 12-10.
Who Will Win More Games In 2012?
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.
When: Saturday, Oct. 6 at 12 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN 2
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Spread Info: Auburn (-10.5), Over/Under 55.5, according to Vegas Insider
This is one of those games where you could be betting with the talent that you think a team has or the actual performance that you are seeing, and it would be justified either way.
We can all agree, without reservation, that Arkansas was vastly overrated coming into the year. Head coach John L. Smith has lost any semblance of control he had over the program, and the players just look like they would rather be doing anything else.
Auburn hasn't been much better, but at least some of its games have been fun to watch. The LSU game was an offensive struggle, yet close enough to warrant attention. Clemson scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to hold off Auburn.
To me, there is no way this game comes close to 55.5 points. Both offenses are dreadful, and Auburn doesn't score enough to run the total up to what the experts think it will be.
Since college football has watered down the bowl process, where all you need to do is finish .500 to play, neither of these teams are completely out of contention for the postseason.
The loser is likely done. Arkansas will have to win five of its last six games and Auburn would need to go 5-2. It's not an impossible task, though hardly an ideal road for either one to take given their starts to the season.
Neither team is going to make a significant dent in the bowl scenarios in the SEC. Their fans might take some solace in seeing their team get to a bowl, but it is not going to be anything worth paying close attention to.
Keys to Arkansas Win
Limit turnovers; get a stop on defense
Arkansas' problems are vast and not easily explained, though one can look at its turnovers and inability to get off the field on defense as two major problems.
In his last three games played, quarterback Tyler Wilson has thrown five interceptions. During their four-game losing streak, the Razorbacks have turned the ball over 12 times. It doesn't matter how much talent you have, if you give the ball away that much, you are going to lose.
Defensively, they rank 116th in points allowed per game (40.6). That is worse than pathetic—it's just sad. They need to at least get one stop to build some kind of confidence, or at least to prove that they can do it.
Keys to Auburn Win
Exploit holes in Arkansas' D-line; take advantage of volatile situation
Arkansas is a time bomb on the verge of exploding if it hasn't already. Auburn is there to walk all over the pieces, with a running game that is effective against the right teams.
Even two weeks ago against LSU, Auburn was able to rack up 86 yards on the ground. It is not a huge total, but against one of the best defenses in the country, it is a respectable number.
With no real presence up front, Auburn should be more than capable of running through holes the size of the Grand Canyon.
Other than that, just keep putting the pressure on an Arkansas team that is lost in all areas of the game right now.
Whenever the choice comes down to Arkansas or anyone else right now, how do you bet on the Razorbacks? Eventually, they will find a win because it happens to everyone. It's just not something you can predict based on what they have done the last four weeks.
Auburn 24, Arkansas 14