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Friday, October 9, 2009

Auburn-Arkansas breakdown

I'm on the road today, heading toward Fayetteville, so I won't have any links for you. But here's a breakdown of the Auburn-Arkansas matchup that's running in Saturday's paper:

No. 17 Auburn (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at Arkansas (2-2, 0-2 SEC)

  • Where: Fayetteville, Ark.
  • When: Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN
  • Last meeting: Arkansas 25, Auburn 22, Oct. 11, 2008, in Auburn
Auburn: The Tigers had their worst offensive showing against Tennessee and still gained 459 yards and scored 26 points. Quarterback Chris Todd has led the charge, with 12 touchdown passes to only one interception this year. Running backs Ben Tate and Onterio McCalebb both rank in the SEC's top five in rushing.

Arkansas: Quarterback Ryan Mallett gets all the attention, but receivers Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright have been solid targets, combining for 45 catches, 873 yards and seven touchdowns. Running back Michael Smith has only 180 rushing yards in four games; he had 176 against Auburn last year. Preseason All-SEC tight end D.J. Williams has been quiet, with only eight receptions for 104 yards.

EDGE: Push
Auburn: The Tigers played three quarters of solid defense against the Volunteers before going soft in their coverage and giving up 16 fourth-quarter points. Still, Auburn showed improvement, allowing Tennessee to convert only 4 of 17 third-down opportunities. Linebackers Josh Bynes and Craig Stevens have combined for 86 tackles through five games.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks have been a sieve all year, allowing 404.5 yards and 29 points per game, ranking last in the SEC in both categories. They're 113th nationally in pass defense (283.5 ypg). Despite last week's 47-19 win against Texas A&M, Arkansas allowed the Aggies to run 93 plays, giving up 458 yards in the process.

EDGE: Auburn
Special teams:
Auburn: Place-kicker Wes Byrum finally missed, but the junior is still a reliable 10-for-11 this year. The punt return game remains unsettled, with Anthony Gulley and Philip Pierre-Louis both in the mix, but the kickoff return unit finally got going last week. McCalebb had a 52-yard return and Tate had a 35-yarder.

Arkansas: Amazingly, the Hogs are actually worse than the Tigers on punt returns, averaging only 2.9 yards. But they have been outstanding on kick returns. Dennis Johnson has a 29.8-yard average and took one back 91 yards earlier this season for a touchdown. Punter Dylan Breeding has struggled, averaging 39.5 yards per punt with one block.

EDGE: Auburn
Prediction: I originally was going to pick Arkansas, but then I took a closer look at the Razorbacks' defense. They can't stop anyone right now. Auburn is a bad team for the them to be playing in that case. The Tigers will score ... and score and score and score, enough that even Mallett's rocket arm won't be enough to keep Arkansas in the game. Auburn wins 45-39 and gets to the midway point of the regular season unbeaten.

1 comment:

War Eagle AC-47 said...

Andy said, "Prediction: I originally was going to pick Arkansas, but then I took a closer look at the Razorbacks' defense."

Huzzah! for Master Bitter.