Auburn-Arkansas: Predicting an Ugly Game on Saturday
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This weekend, the Razorbacks will travel to the Plains to face an undefeated Auburn team. No, I will not predict a winner for this game. This game will be one of the ugliest ranked SEC games you will ever see.
The Tigers (led by Heisman candidate Cameron Newton) lead the SEC in total rushing yards.
Newton has rushed for 672 yards in six games (even though he didn't attempt to run the ball against Louisiana-Monroe) and passed for 1,138 yards. He has accounted for 21 total touchdowns this season.
The Razorbacks (led by former Heisman hopeful Ryan Mallett) lead the SEC in total passing yards. Mallett has passed for 2,148 yards in six games.
So you're probably wondering why I listed these stats.
Here's why: Auburn runs the ball first, passes second. Arkansas passes the ball first, runs second.
Arkansas has the third worst rushing defense in the SEC but the second best passing defense. They also have the No. 1 passing offense in the SEC.
Auburn has the worst passing defense in the SEC but the second best rushing defense. They also have the No. 1 rushing offense in the SEC.
What Auburn must do to win
Who do you think will win?
1. Strengthen the secondary. Arkansas has the worst rushing offense in the SEC and one of the worst in college football. They will pass, and they will pass often.
2. Sack Mallett. Auburn has a great defensive line, and Arkansas has a weak offensive line. If they can keep the pressure on Mallett, he will make mistakes.
3. Run the ball, but don't wear out Cam Newton. With Newton, Mike Dyer, Mario Fannin, and Onterio McCalebb, you shouldn't have a problem sharing the load.
What Arkansas must do to win
1. Protect Mallett. Auburn's linebackers are among the best in the SEC. You can bet that they will try to hit Mallett as often as possible.
2. Strengthen the defensive line. Auburn prefers to run the ball, but even on passing plays Newton always has the option to run the ball himself.
3. Hit 'em where it hurts—pass the ball. Auburn's biggest weakness is its secondary. Short passes are key.
I see this game being extremely sloppy defensively. Auburn's offense counters Arkansas' defense, and Arkansas' offense counters Auburn's defense. Expect a high-scoring game from both teams.
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