Hogs Vs. Auburn Head-To-Head

ON THE GROUND
ADVANTAGE: AUBURN

Auburn boasts the best rushing tandem in the SEC in seniors Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and Ronnie Brown. They rank fourth and sixth in the conference in rushing, respectively, and have combined for 981 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Tigers are averaging 198 rushing yards per game, which is fourth-best in the SEC.

The conference's second-best ground game (206 yards) is without true freshman Peyton Hillis for at least a month because of a lower back injury. Hillis led the Arkansas in touchdowns (6), but junior De'Arrius Howard (244 yards, 4 touchdowns) will handle goal-line and short-yardage duties.

Arkansas senior Matt Jones needs 55 yards to become the SEC's all-time rushing leader for quarterbacks, a mark held by Mississippi State's John Bond. Jones leads a balanced backfield in rushing (313 yards) and senior DeCori Birmingham is second (283). The Hogs also will turn to juniors Dedrick Poole (24 carries, 77 yards) and Kyle Dickerson (15 carries, 41 yards) to help replace Hillis.

THROUGH THE AIR
ADVANTAGE: ARKANSAS

Arkansas made a move during the off-week to get true freshman Marcus Monk more involved. He'll start at split end, while Steven Harris slides to flanker. Third-leading receiver Carlos Ousley quit last week after losing his starting spot, meaning sophomores Cedric Washington and Chris Baker must contribute more.

Jones hasn't been sharp the past two games and has seven interceptions in the last five. The SEC's second-leading passer (218 ypg) will be tested by an Auburn secondary that is second in the nation in interceptions (11).

Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell is off to a solid start after three frustrating seasons. The senior leads the SEC and is sixth in the nation in passing efficiency (165.4 rating). Campbell has thrown 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Courtney Taylor leads Auburn with 17 catches for 274 yards. Ben Obomanu has a team-high 5 touchdown catches. Silas Daniels caught a school-record 87-yard touchdown pass from Campbell against Louisiana Tech last Saturday.

IN THE TRENCHES
ADVANTAGE: AUBURN

The Hogs suffered a big blow when right tackle Zac Tubbs broke his left ankle during an off-week practice and he's out for the season. Arkansas' most experienced starter will be replaced by little-used redshirt freshman Matt Gilbow.

Arkansas' defensive line was neutralized by talented fronts against Alabama and Florida. Senior Jeb Huckeba leads the Hogs with 2 sacks and 4 tackles for losses. Senior Arrion Dixon has 7 tackles the past four games.

Auburn's offensive line is led by left tackle Marcus McNeil, who hasn't allowed a sack this season and graded out at 90 percent or higher the past five weeks. Right guard Danny Lindsey (33 straight starts) and right tackle Troy Reddick (19 straight) have plenty of experience.

Defensive end Stanley McClover is a talented newcomer who leads Auburn in sacks (3) and forced fumbles (3). The Tigers are tied for the SEC lead in sacks (16), have 47 tackles for losses and haven't allowed a rushing touchdown in seven games.

SPECIAL TEAMS
ADVANTAGE: AUBURN

Auburn set an SEC record for consecutive extra points last week when place-kicker John Vaughn made all seven attempts against Louisiana Tech. The streak, which is the longest current mark in the NCAA, dates back to 1999 and snapped the previous record of 199 set by Alabama from 1981-87.

Vaughn is 6 of 8 on field goals and 25 of 25 on extra points and punter Kody Bliss is averaging 41.4 yards per attempt. Auburn is first in the SEC in punt returns (16.8 yards), second in kickoff returns (25.8) and fourth in punting (39.1).

Birmingham needs two yards on a kick or punt return to surpass former Hog Ken Hatfield for the Arkansas career return yards record. Birmingham has 1,603 return yards (1,124 kick, 479 punt).

Place-kicker Chris Balseiro is 23 of 24 on extra points and 2 of 3 on field goals. But the junior hasn't attempted a field goal since Arkansas' 22-20 loss to Texas on Sept. 11. Punter Jacob Skinner is averaging 37 yards an attempt.

INTANGIBLES
ADVANTAGE: AUBURN

Arkansas is 9-16 in SEC road games under coach Houston Nutt, but 5-3 in its past eight after the Oct. 2 loss at Florida. The Hogs are 11-13 against ranked teams since 1998 -- including a 2-7 mark on the road -- but are 0-2 this season.

Arkansas hasn't protected the ball in its losses against ranked opponents (No. 16 Florida and No. 6 Texas) this season. The Razorbacks turned the ball over seven times, didn't collect any takeaways and are minus-1 in turnover margin this season.

The Hogs won four of the past six games against the Tigers, including the 38-17 win at Auburn in 2002. The team leading at halftime has won eight of the past nine meetings in this series. Auburn has outscored opponents 119-12 in the first half.

Auburn is 26-0 under coach Tommy Tuberville when it scores 30 points or more and has done so five times this season. Arkansas and Auburn have never met when both teams were ranked in The Associated Press poll and have played nine games with one team in the Top 25. The ranked team is 5-4 and has lost the past three.

OVERALL
AUBURN 24, ARKANSAS 16

The underdog has played the spoiler several times in this series. Arkansas stunned the Tigers in 2001 (42-17) and 2002 (38-17). Auburn derailed the Razorbacks' championship hopes with a 10-3 win last season. This time, the unranked Hogs pose the last serious threat to Auburn's SEC Western Division championship hopes.

Arkansas (37.8 points per game, 459.2 yards per game) and Auburn (33.8, 435.2) carry the SEC's top-two offenses into today's game, but don't expect the scoreboard to light up at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Unlike Arkansas, the Tigers also boast a top-notch defense that is fourth in the nation in scoring (7.2 ppg) and seventh in total yards allowed (250.3).

Auburn won't miss out on another chance to seize control of the SEC West and extend its longest winning streak under Tuberville to nine games. The young Hogs will provide another stiff test, but Campbell, Williams and Brown should prove too powerful to match for an offense missing key components like Tubbs and Hillis.

THE KEY MATCHUP
DT Arrion Dixon (6-foot-6, 237 pounds • junior) vs. RB Carnell Williams (6-foot, 212 pounds • junior)

Dixon was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after the season-opener, but has been missing in action since the Texas loss. The senior has 12 tackles in five games and must play a bigger role if the Hogs hope to slow "Cadillac."

Williams was a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, but isn't putting up gaudy numbers because of backfield mate Ronnie Brown. But Williams is fourth in SEC rushing (91 yards per game) and has 13 100-yard outings in his career.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories