StatTiger: Analyzing Clemson at Auburn

StatTiger (Stuart Carter) crunches the numbers to predict a winner in Saturday night's SEC vs. ACC showdown at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn 2-0/1-0 SEC vs. Clemson 2-0/ 0-0 ACC

Series record: 32-11-2 in favor of Auburn

2010 National Rankings:
Auburn: Clemson:

Rush Offense: 9th Rush Offense: 24th
Pass Offense: 69th Pass Offense: 79th
Total Offense: 20th Total Offense: 47th
Score Offense: 37th Score Offense: 12th
Rush Defense: 17th Rush Defense: 85th
Pass Defense: 73rd Pass Defense: 63rd
Total Defense: 44th Total Defense: 76th
Score Defense: 56th Score Defense: 33rd

About Clemson...

The Clemson Tigers are off to a 2-0 start in 2010, but there is a huge question mark looming over their collective heads because they have yet to be tested. Under the guidance of Coach Dabo Swinney, Clemson has compiled a 15-8 record, returning six starters on offense and six on defense from 2009.

Clemson has disposed of North Texas, 35-10, and Presbyterian, 58-21, and this will be its first true test of the season. The last meeting between the two schools was in 2007 with Auburn defeating Clemson 23-20 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Auburn currently has a 13-game winning streak against Clemson, but Clemson is 8-9 against SEC competition during the past decade.

The Clemson offense is still searching for its every down running back with Andre Ellington (5-10, 190), Jamie Harper (6-0, 235) and Roderick McDowell (5-9, 185) combining for 334 yards this season. Ellington and Harper both had more than 100 yards rushing during their season opener against North Texas.

Starting quarterback Kyle Parker currently has a passer rating of 192.2, but he has not attempted enough passes for the NCAA to rank him. If he were ranked, he would have the 5th best efficiency rating in the nation.

Clemson lost three of its top four receivers from 2009 with Dwayne Allen (tight end) currently the top receiver with three receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown. Clemson does return four starting offensive linemen, but Kyle Parker's supporting cast is young and inexperienced.

The Clemson defense returns seven of its top11 tacklers from last season, but has struggled stopping the run despite facing inferior competition. Rashad Hall (free safety) is the leading tackler with 14 stops. DeAndre McDaniel (strong safety) is the second leading tackler, which means Clemson's top two tacklers are from their secondary. Andre Branch (end) and Jarvis Jenkins (tackle) have combined for seven tackles for lost yardage and Branch leads the team with three sacks this season.

Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton is expected to test the Clemson defense.

A major concern for the Clemson defense is a linebacker corps that has a combined 245 career tackles with Brandon Mayes accounting for 166. He is the only linebacker with more than 25 career tackles. The lack of experience at the linebacker position has Clemson currently allowing 166.5 yards per game on the ground. It should be noted that Clemson is currently No. 8 nationally in tackles for loss.

Inside the Numbers...

•During Auburn's current 13-game winning streak against Clemson, Auburn has defeated the ACC team by an average score of 29-10, including an average score of 29-7 at Jordan-Hare.

•The last time Clemson defeated Auburn was during Shug Jordan's first season as head coach at Auburn in 1951. After that loss, Jordan's teams were 11-0 against Clemson.

•The Auburn defense is currently No. 14 nationally in tackles for loss.

•Auburn is currently No. 10 nationally in sacks.

•Auburn is currently 37th in the nation in 3rd down defense and Clemson is 97th.

•Auburn is currently 42nd nationally in 3rd down offense and Clemson is 102nd.

•During the last nine meetings against Clemson, Auburn has averaged 349 yards and 31 points per game while allowing 228 yards and 12 points to Clemson.

•Two games into the season Auburn has allowed 5.5 yards per punt return and Clemson has allowed 11.0. Clemson has averaged 15.7 yards per punt return and Auburn has averaged 8.3 yards.

•Auburn has averaged 24.4 yards per kick return to Clemson's, 20.2 average. Auburn has allowed 19.7 yards per return and Clemson, 20.1.

•Auburn is currently giving up 48 yards per game in penalties and Clemson is at 54 yards.

Why Auburn should win

•The first glaring advantage for Auburn is its current ranking of No. 9 in run offense and Clemson's run defense ranking of 85th. Look for Michael Dyer to have his first signature game Saturday night.

•Clemson appears to have some defensive issues considering the yardage they have allowed to weak opponents. The CU Tigers also run a base 4-3 defense, which Gus Malzahn's offense has prospered against compared to 3-4 schemes.

•Auburn has 23 impact plays on offense (15 yards or more) and has allowed eight on defense. Clemson has 17 impact plays on offense, but has allowed 17 on defense. This could be a big game for the Auburn offense in terms of explosive plays.

•Presbyterian quarterback Myron Gary rushed for 53 yards against Clemson, averaging 7.6 yards per carry. If Clemson struggled containing Gary, Auburn QB Cameron Newton could have another big game on the ground against Clemson.

•On paper Auburn has the better offense and the better defense through two games. Playing at home under the lights should be plenty of incentive to play well against Clemson.

Why Clemson should win...

•During the 15 games Gus Malzahn has been the Auburn offensive coordinator Auburn's quarterbacks have been sacked at least two times in eight games. During those games, Auburn has averaged 353 yards per game on offense while scoring an average of only 2.7 touchdowns per game. Clemson is currently No. 5 in the country in sacks, averaging four per game. If Clemson can apply consistent pressure on Newton, look for the Auburn offense to struggle.

•Clemson currently has the 10th most efficient pass-offense in the nation and Auburn is 35th nationally in pass efficiency defense. If Kyle Parker has a good night, it could spell trouble for Auburn's secondary.

•In the past 10 years, Auburn is 2-3 against ACC opponents.

Final Word...

Auburn has climbed to No. 16 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The offense was explosive in the season opener and the defense secured the victory against Mississippi State. The coaching staff is hoping both units will perform consistently this Saturday as they take on an undefeated Clemson squad. It's difficult to gauge just how good or bad this Clemson team is because of its lack of competition.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will be looking for a lot more points out of his players than Auburn scored at Mississippi State.

Though Auburn hasn't played a juggernaut schedule, it clearly was more difficult than the opponents Clemson has faced so far. This could be an advantage for Auburn with its contest against Mississippi State making Coach Gene Chizik's team more battle tested than Clemson.

The current statistical rankings of both teams indicates a big win for the Auburn Tigers. Clemson has struggled on defense despite playing inferior competition, especially with run defense. Chizik is searching for more production from Auburn's running backs with Newton being the leading rusher in the first two games. This could be freshman tailback Dyer's breakout game considering how much Clemson has struggled against the run. Of the 17 impact plays the Clemson defense has surrendered this season, nine have come via the running game. Of Auburn's 23 impact plays on offense, 13 have come through the running game.

One advantage for Clemson is the fact it was able to play a lot of bodies during the first two games, establishing depth and working out some of rust on both sides of the football. Clemson should be well rested entering this game on Saturday night. Auburn starters Lee Ziemba (left tackle) and Mario Fannin (running back) are nicked up, but are expected to play.

The next two games could define Auburn's season with two challenging opponents in Clemson and South Carolina both coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium. With both games being at home, Auburn needs to take advantage of the opportunity to launch the team into or close to the Top 10 in the national rankings. One thing is for sure, we will likely see just how good this Auburn team is over the next two weeks.

Despite the solid performance by the Auburn defense against Mississippi State, more was expected from an Auburn offense that came into the season with a veteran offensive line and a wealth of skill players. Penalties, miscues and poor execution prevented Auburn from putting more than 17 points on the board, which cannot happen against Clemson.

Three players to watch for this Saturday on offense will be Dyer, freshman receiver Trovon Reed and junior H-back/fullback Eric Smith. This will likely be the first time Dyer is showcased as the primary runner and look for Eric Smith to see more touches, too. Once the elusive Reed makes it to the field, he could be the utility player who takes the Auburn offense to another level even if he only has 5-7 touches. I expect Malzahn to be more aggressive in his play calling and produce a high number of impact plays Saturday night. Auburn 38, Clemson 20

Around the SEC...

Alabama over Duke by 27

Arkansas over Georgia by 4

Ole Miss over Vanderbilt by 10

Florida over Tennessee by 9

South Carolina over Furman by 31

Kentucky over Akron by 22

LSU over Mississippi State by 6

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