Auburn Football: 3 Matchups to Watch in Conference Battle with Vanderbilt

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2012

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 6:  Clint Moseley #15 of the Auburn Tigers hands off the ball to teammate Mike Blakely #22 during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 6, 2012 in Auburn, Alabama.  The Razorbacks defeated the Tigers 24-7.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The 1-5 Auburn Tigers trudge along on their disappointing season, traveling to Nashville this weekend to take on the 2-4 Vanderbilt Commodores.

It's jarring at first to see Auburn with a worse record than Vanderbilt, but it's even more amazing to see the Tigers as an underdog against the Commodores––and a touchdown underdog at that.

With backup quarterback Clint Moseley preparing to start his second consecutive game, Auburn hopes it can get its first SEC win of the season and, in many respects, its first respectable victory of the year. (Sorry, guys, but Louisiana-Monroe ain't cuttin' it.)

Let's take a look at three matchups that will be vital in this weekend's SEC contest.


Clint Moseley vs. Bruce Fowler

Vanderbilt defensive coordinator Bruce Fowler has had his boys ready in all three home contests this season. The Commodores have allowed 17, zero and 15 points against South Carolina, Presbyterian and Missouri, respectively.

Auburn QB Clint Moseley didn't exactly light the world on fire against Ole Miss, but making his second consecutive start in place of Kiehl Frazier, he should feel much more comfortable than he did last week.

Fowler is sure to try his best to expose the under-experienced quarterback, but if Moseley can win the chess match, Auburn has the talent to move the ball on Vanderbilt. 


Corey Lemonier vs. Vanderbilt's Offensive Line

According to's Joel Erickson, Auburn's defensive line has failed to live up to its lofty expectations.

Culpability, however, cannot be placed on the hulking shoulders of Corey Lemonier.

Lemonier has been the Tigers' best rusher this season, and has shot up NFL draft boards in the process. The lackluster performance of his peers has kept two or three blockers on him all season, but he's still managed to put up decent numbers.

Coming off a subpar effort against Ole Miss, Lemonier will need to rally his linemates and wreak havoc on Vandy's protection unit.


Jordan Matthews vs. Auburn Secondary

The playing status and effectiveness of cornerback Chris Davis is still up in the air, which could make a major impact on Vanderbilt's stud receiver Jordan Matthews.

Matthews is coming off three consecutive games of eight-plus catches and 90-plus yards––against the pretty stout competition of Georgia, Missouri and Florida––and has established himself as one of the premier pass-catchers in the SEC.

Regardless of who suits up in Auburn's defensive backfield, the unit will have to keep an eye on No. 87 at all times.

If not, it could be a long day in Nashville.