Possibly the biggest game of Joker Phillips short career comes this Saturday as the number 8 Auburn Tigers come to town. Gus Malzahn brings his sophisticated offense into Commonwealth Stadium to take on the 3-2 Cats in a critical game for both schools.
For Auburn, keeping up with in-state rival and Number 1 Alabama means a must win. If both teams stay undefeated, two top five teams could be playing for a potential birth in the National Title game when Auburn travels to Alabama at the end of the regular season.
For Kentucky, an 0-2 start in the SEC places them in an undesirable place in the East, last. For the Cats to have the season they desire, this game is a must win. The next three at home, Auburn, South Carolina and Georgia, will define the season and a potential bowl bid.
Some insights to the two teams and the upcoming game:
- Auburn is currently favored by 6 1/2 points.
- Auburn leads the all time series 24-6-1.
- Gus Malzahn said Kentucky's defense is "going to make us earn it." (Let's hope that's true)
- Auburn hasn't lost a game in Lexington since 1966, winning seven in a row.
- Kentucky has an all-time record of 38-176-5 against ranked teams.
- The team that has finished with the most rushing yards has won the past nine meetings. (Time for the Wildcobb and Locke combo. This might be a good game to utilize Morgan Newton some as he is much better at the run than Hartline)
- Kentucky's opponents have scored on all 16 of their possessions inside the Wildcats' 20-yard line this season. (A stat that must change if the Cats are to upset the Tigers)
- Auburn leads the nation in passing efficiency (188.8 rating), percent of passes for TDs (12.5) and average yards per attempt (10.8).
- Kentucky RB Derrick Locke is first and WR Randall Cobb third in the SEC in all-purpose yards. (Their play will be the key for the Cats offense.)
- Cobb has run 14 plays as a Wildcat QB this season, and Kentucky has averaged 8.7 yards with two TDs on those snaps. (30+ touches for Cobb is essential)
- Kentucky QB Mike Hartline had the first 300-yard passing game of his career last week. Hartline is the only SEC QB other than Arkansas' Ryan Mallett to throw for 300 yards in a game this season.
- Although Kentucky has thrown more passes than any team in the SEC this season (168), it has thrown the fewest interceptions (three).
- Kentucky WR Chris Matthews leads the SEC with five TD catches.
Kentucky will have to stop the run and force Auburn to throw the ball. Slowing Cameron Newton, Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb will be the key. The dual threat of Newton will present problems for the front seven of Kentucky. The defense has been the issue in the first two SEC games, can they break the trend and "make us earn it" as Malzahn said?
With the Cats, the big four of Hartline, Cobb, Locke and Matthews will be the critical element. Can the O-line give Hartline the time needed all while controlling the front seven of Auburn in the run game.
Action begins at 6:30 pm this Saturday and can be seen on ESPN2...
Other articles of possible interest at Nation of Blue:
- Randall Cobb: "I'm Pi**ed Off"
- Three Recruits Visiting For Auburn Game
- Kanter's Dad Talks Kanter's Eligibility