StatTiger: Analyzing Arkansas at Auburn

StatTiger (Stuart Carter) crunches the numbers and predicts what will happen in Saturday's showdown of Top 25 SEC West teams in Auburn.

No. 7 Auburn 6-0/3-0 SEC vs. No. 12 Arkansas 4-1/1-1 SEC

Series record: 10-8-1 in favor of Auburn

2010 National Rankings:

Auburn/Arkansas:

Rush Offense: 8th/Rush Offense: 96th
Pass Offense: 69th/Pass Offense: 3rd
Total Offense: 10th/Total Offense: 19th
Score Offense: 18th/Score Offense: 50th
Rush Defense: 14th/Rush Defense: 43rd
Pass Defense: 91st/Pass Defense: 19th
Total Defense: 40th/Total Defense: 19th
Score Defense: 46th/Score Defense: 13th

About Arkansas...

Coach Bobby Petrino is in his third season at Arkansas where he has compiled a record of 17-13, which nearly mirrors Auburn's record of 19-12 during the same time period. The Razorbacks' 4-1 record is their best start under Petrino and their best start since 2006 when they also began the season at 4-1.

As expected Petrino has built a strong pass offense at Arkansas, which is currently ranked third nationally in passing yards per game. Missing from his attack is a strong running game that has yet to surface in 2010, but Petrino's defense is playing its best football since he arrived in 2008.

The Razorbacks should come to Jordan-Hare Stadium confident of victory based on winning three of the last four meetings against Auburn including a 44-23 decision last year.

Quarterback Ryan Mallett, the star of the Razorback offense, is ranked as the nation's No. 7 quarterback this week with an efficiency rating of 170.3. He is currently averaging nearly 350 yards per game while completing 69 percent of his passes.

Ryan Mallett runs vs. Texas A&M.

The junior quarterback has a terrific group of receivers with four players who have more than 200 yards in receptions. Joe Adams leads the squad with 21 receptions for 408 yards and three touchdowns. Greg Childs is the primary possession receiver with 28 catches for 363 yards and three touchdowns. Broderick Green is the featured running back with 60 carries for 192 yards. Knile Davis provides the Razorbacks with big-play potential, averaging 6.8 yards per rush. Like Auburn, Arkansas returned four starting offensive linemen making the Razorbacks lethal offensively.

Joe Adams is a major receiving threat for the Razorbacks.

The Razorbacks were 72nd in total defense in 2008 and 89th last year. This season they enter the Auburn game ranked 19th in total defense and 13th in scoring defense. Most of the focus has been on the offenses for this matchup, but the Razorback defense could decide the outcome.

Linebacker Jerry Franklin leads the defense with 37 tackles, including four for a loss. Linebacker Anthony Leon is second on the team with 35 tackles and leads the team with eight tackles for lost yardage. Jake Bequette and Tenarius Wright are the standouts on a solid defensive front with a combined seven quarterback sacks.

The Razorback defense is currently No. 15 nationally in tackles for loss and fourth in sacks. Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson will field an aggressive and very physical lineup on Saturday afternoon, a group which was able to disrupt Auburn's offensive front in 2009.

Inside the Numbers...

•Since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992 the series between two schools has been extremely competitive with Auburn holding a slight 9-8-1 advantage.

•The team that has won the rushing battle during the game has compiled a record of 12-5-1.

•Auburn has scored 400 points in the SEC series against the Razorbacks and Arkansas has scored 417.

•Auburn's leading rusher against Arkansas has averaged 112.7 yards per game from 1992-2009.

•The leading rusher for Arkansas against Auburn has averaged 105.0 yards per game, including a 100-yard outing in four of the last five meetings. Arkansas is 6-2 against Auburn when it has a 100-yard rusher.

•When either one of the teams rushed for at least 150 yards and completed 60 percent of its passes, it resulted in a victory every time (7-0).

•Auburn's receivers have been productive against the Razorbacks since 1992. The Tigers' leading receiver has averaged five receptions for 90 yards during the 18 meetings.

•Auburn is 7-1 against Arkansas when the Tigers did not trail at halftime.

Why Auburn should win...

•Auburn has a huge advantage in the running game. The Tigers are ranked first in the SEC and eighth nationally in rushing yards per game as they play an Arkansas defense ranked 43rd nationally in stopping the run. Arkansas has the 96th-ranked run offense going up against Auburn's 14th-ranked run defense.

•Auburn is currently No. 53 in turnover margin compared to Arkansas at No. 80 ranking.

•Auburn is 20th in third down efficiency on offense going up against the 24th best defense on third downs. Arkansas is 79th on third downs offensively and will face the 39th best defense against third downs giving a slight edge to Auburn.

•Auburn's kickoff return and coverage teams are ranked higher than those for the Razorbacks.

•Line play is always huge in conference contests. Auburn is 28th in tackles for lost yardage allowed while Arkansas is 49th. Auburn is 10th nationally in tackles for a loss on defense and Arkansas is No. 15.

Why Arkansas should win...

•Comparing their matchups in yardage gained and yardage allowed, Arkansas has the edge. It will be Auburn's 10th-ranked offense vs. Arkansas' 19th-ranked defense. When Arkansas has the football, it will be its 19th-ranked offense vs. Auburn's 40th-ranked defense.

•In terms of pass efficiency it will be the Razorbacks' 10th-rated pass offense vs. Auburn's 70th-rated pass defense.

•Arkansas will have the edge in the punting game with the Razorbacks having the 20th ranked punt return defense against Auburn's 68th ranked punt return offense. Arkansas is 27th in punt return offense vs. Auburn's 36th-ranked punt return defense. Arkansas is also 51st in net punting and Auburn is No. 91.

•In a close ball game, field goals could become a factor. Arkansas is has made 5-6 tries and Auburn's Wes Byrum is 8-11 this season.

•Taking Auburn's touchdown ratio on offense vs. the' touchdown ratio on defense for Arkansas, Auburn will score every 24.9 plays. Taking the Razorbacks' offensive touchdown ratio vs. Auburn's touchdown ratio on defense, Arkansas will score every 21.6 plays.

Final Word

The game will likely come down to how well Auburn can defend the passing game and how well Arkansas can defend Auburn's run offense. Through five games Arkansas has held its opponent to 6.1 percent below its rushing average. If this trend holds true this Saturday, Auburn will rush for 259 yards.

Cameron Newton rushed for 198 yards vs. Kentucky last week.

For the season Auburn's defense has allowed the opponent to pass for 4.3 percent more than its season average, which means Arkansas would be expected to throw for 369 yards. Neither team matches up well against the other's team strength on offense. If both teams struggle against the other's offensive strength, each team's perceived weakness could actually decide the outcome of the game.

The Auburn defense is currently holding opponents 40.4 percent below their rushing average. With Arkansas averaging only 109 yards rushing per game the Tiger defense could hold the Razorbacks to 65 yards this Saturday.

This now leaves Arkansas defending the Auburn pass offense. The Razorbacks are 21st in pass efficiency defense, but Auburn is No. 2 nationally in pass efficiency. Even if Arkansas holds quarterback Cameron Newton to his lowest rating on the season, that would be 136.4. Dating back to 1986 when Auburn has rushed for 200-250 yards along with a pass rating of 120-140, Auburn is 20-0-0. Simply put, the Arkansas defense enters the game knowing it will be a challenge to defend both phases of the Auburn offense while Arkansas has been one-dimensional the entire season.

Last season Arkansas had 16 offensive possessions against the Auburn defense and scored on seven. The Razorbacks had too many opportunities because the Auburn offense went three-and-out on five occasions and turned the ball over on three other possessions. Had Auburn executed more efficiently on offense, Arkansas would have likely had the normal 12 possessions per game, meaning it would have scored only five times rather than seven.

The Razorbacks have averaged 12 possessions per game, scoring 39.3 percent of the time in 2010. If Arkansas can maintain this scoring percentage against Auburn, expect five scoring drives this Saturday. This means Arkansas will score somewhere between 15-35 points, but realistically closer to 35 points than 15.

Mallett is one of the best quarterbacks in the country, but Newton is one of the best players in the country. In a game that has the potential to be an offensive shootout, Mallett brings a Colt Six-Shooter to the showdown, but Newton is packing two.

Auburn 35, Arkansas 31

Around the SEC...

Florida over Mississippi State by 6

Georgia over Vanderbilt by 11

Alabama over Ole Miss by 13

South Carolina over Kentucky by 6

LSU over McNeese by 30


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