Gearing up for Fayetteville.
Going on the road has been tough for the Tigers.
War Eagle, everybody! It’s Arkansas week for the Auburn Tigers, and everyone is talking about the Razorback Curse. Either that, or Bret Bielema’s whining about film on an extra point play. Examining the actual football played between these two schools reveals some curious things. Did you know, for instance, that Auburn has won 3 of the last 5 meetings in Fayetteville? However, the road hasn’t been kind to Auburn since the 2010 season. Auburn had won just 2 of its last 10 road games prior to knocking off Texas A&M in College Station.
In the all-time Auburn vs. Arkansas series, Auburn holds an 11-10-1 edge in wins. Arkansas has never beaten Auburn 3 years in a row, and is unlikely to do so this season. Arkansas is last in the SEC in scoring offense this season, managing just 20.4 points per game. Against SEC foes, that scoring average plummets to 12.5, and that includes scoring 33 against Texas A&M. In actual fact, Arkansas’ offense is looking a lot like the one Auburn fielded last season. The only real silver lining is that Arkansas is 4th in the SEC in rushing yards, picking up 209.9. Again, against SEC opponents that average drops to 173.8.
On the defensive side of the ball, it’s a similar tale of woe. Arkansas is 12th in the SEC in scoring defense, giving up 30.6 points per game. Against SEC foes, it’s 44.7 points per game given up. Even in the depths of the Roof and vanGorder years at Auburn, the Tigers didn’t give up a 30 per game average. Arkansas is l1th in rushing defense, and they’ll be facing the league’s top rushing attack this weekend. Arkansas looks average against the pass, coming in 7th, but that’s because teams haven’t had to throw much against the Razorbacks when its easy enough to run.
Arkansas ranks in the bottom half of the league in kick returns (11th), punt returns (9th), net punting (11th), pass efficiency (14th), and turnover margin (14th). By comparison Auburn’s rankings include scoring offense (5th), rushing offense (1st), scoring defense (3rd), rushing defense (5th), total offense (2nd), kickoff returns (6th), net punting (3rd), and pass efficiency defense (5th).
The Razorbacks have had just one competitive SEC home game this season, and that was against Texas A&M in a 45-33 loss. The Razorbacks had a balanced attack in that one, racking up 483 yards against the Aggies. The Razorbacks relied on running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams to pick up yards after contact, rolling up 201 rushing yards. Quarterback Brandon Allen hit 17 of 36 pass attempts, for 282 yards and 3 touchdowns, but he also threw 2 costly interceptions. His favorite targets were receiver Hunter Henry, and Jonathan Williams out of the backfield. Since Aggie loss, Arkansas has scored just 17 points in the past three games, and has given up 134. Brandon Allen has been in a funk the past 3 games, completing just 28 of 78 attempts, with no touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
For those making the trip to Fayetteville, expect pretty chilly weather. Kickoff temperature will be around 55 degrees, and the mercury will drop into the 40s quickly. This game will kick off a bit earlier than usual, at 5:00 PM Central Time. It will be televised on ESPN-2. It should be a great night to pick up some extra sleep, as this one will be over by 9:00 PM, AND the clocks fall back an hour Sunday at 2:00 AM.
If there’s a concern for Auburn in this game, that would have to be its number 8 ranking in the AP Poll. Folks might have discounted Auburn earlier this season, thanks to last year’s abysmal showing. That’s over with, now. Auburn is a top-ten ranked program, and no opponents will look past that. We’ll get the A-game from the Razorbacks, make no mistake. But Auburn has better players and should win this game, and at Tennessee next weekend. Can the Tigers keep up the intensity they’ve shown every other game this fall? If they take care of business in Fayetteville and Knoxville, we’ll close the season out with a couple of mighty fun games in Jordan Hare Stadium!
We’ll have our usual open thread up Saturday morning, and I’ll be back at the keyboard at game-time. I’m looking forward to seeing what Auburn does against the Hogs! As always, please feel free to join in and sound off.