StatTiger: Analyzing Auburn at Clemson

Stuart Carter crunches the numbers and predicts a winner as Auburn goes for its 18th consecutive football victory as the Tigers take a road trip to play Clemson.

No. 19 Auburn (2-0) at Clemson (2-0)

Series record: Auburn leads 34-11-2

2011 National Rankings:


Rush Offense: 59th/Rush Offense: 31st
Pass Offense: 71st/Pass Offense: 33rd
Total Offense: 76th/Total Offense: 28th
Score Offense: 27th/Score Offense: 39th
Rush Defense: 118th/Rush Defense: 107th
Pass Defense: 56th/Pass Defense: 42nd
Total Defense: 111th/Total Defense: 90th
Score Defense: 103rd/Score Defense: 58th

About Clemson...

Both teams enter the rematch undefeated with 2-0 records with Auburn currently ranked No. 19 in the coaches poll. Auburn has the most impressive victory of the two with a 41-34 victory over No. 16 Mississippi State while Clemson struggled this past Saturday against Wofford, allowing 272 yards rushing in a 35-27 victory.

Dabo Swinney enters his fourth season as the Clemson's head coach, compiling a record of 21-15. Gene Chizik is now 24-5 in his third season at Auburn.

The new Clemson offense under coordinator Coach Chad Morris has looked solid through two games, averaging 472 yards per game.

Running back Andre Ellington has 254 yards rushing at 6.35 yards per carry and quarterback Tajh Boyd has completed 64 percent of his passes for six touchdowns and only one interception. Sammy Watkins leads his team in receiving with 11 receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

Tajh Boyd has taken over as starting quarterback for Clemson, replacing Kyle Parker who left to play pro baseball.

The Clemson offense has been balanced with 206 yards rushing and 266 yards passing per game. With eight returning starters on offense, including four starting linemen, Clemson's adjustment to its new offense has gone smoothly thus far.

The Clemson defense has struggled through the first two games, allowing 411 yards per contest to less than stellar competition. With the loss of six starters on defense, a drop in production was expected in 2011.

Safety Jonathan Meeks currently leads the team in tackles with 17 stops followed by defensive end Andre Branch with 16 stops. Clemson has only six tackles for loss through two games, which ranks No. 112 nationally. The defense has struggled getting pressure on the opposing offense, which resulted in 4.7 yards allowed per rush.

On special teams Clemson is No. 48 in punt return offense and No. 56 in punt return defense. The team is No. 85 in kick return offense and No. 32 in kick return defense to go along with No. 32 in net punting. Special teams could be an area in which Auburn has major advantage Saturday.

Inside the Numbers...

Barrett Trotter is the No. 17 rated passer in the nation and the No. 2 rated passer in the Southeastern Conference.

Michael Dyer has six career games of 15 carries or more. He has averaged 123.7 yards per game on 6.45 yards per rush.

•In Auburn's eight away games under Chizik, Malzahn's offense has averaged 393.1 yards and 27.0 points per game.

•Under Chizik Auburn is 8-3 away from Jordan-Hare.

•The last time Clemson defeated Auburn was in 1951. Auburn has won the last 14 meetings since the loss.

•Both offenses have struggled on third down with Clemson converting 38.7 percent and Auburn converting only 33.3 percent.

•Auburn has a slight edge in impact plays with 11 pass plays of 15 yards or more from 47 pass attempts, including five plays of 25 yards or more. Clemson has attempted 60 passes, producing 12 plays of 15 yards or more and five plays of 25 yards or more.

Auburn has 13 run plays of 10 yards or more and two run plays of 20 yards or more from 66 carries. The Clemson running game has 13 rushes of 10 yards or more and four runs of 20 yards or more from 80 carries.

•Auburn's defense has been horrendous on third downs, allowing opponents to convert 56.8 percent. The Clemson defense has been better though not great at 38.4 percent.

•Auburn is currently averaging 7.11 yards per play on first down while allowing 5.10 yards on defense. Clemson averages 7.59 yards on offense while allowing 6.50 yards per play on first down.

•The Auburn run defense has allowed 560 yards rushing through two games, a major change from the total of just 482 yards allowed in the last five games of the previous season.

•Since 1992 Auburn is 14-5 during its first road game of the season, including a current winning streak of seven games.

•Last season Clemson was No. 10 nationally in tackles for loss. This season through two games Clemson is currently No. 112.

Why Auburn should win...

•Though Auburn has struggled coming out of the gate, Clemson has not been a model of consistency, especially on defense and against lesser opponents.

•The Clemson run defense and front seven have struggled in 2011, creating a major opportunity for Dyer and McCalebb.

•Having practiced against Malzahn's offense for the past three years, the Auburn defense should be prepared for the Clemson offense under new coordinator Morris, who studied under Malzahn.

•Auburn showed signs of improvement from week No. 1 to week No. 2, where Clemson appeared to take a step backwards against Wofford.

•If the game comes down to throwing the football, Trotter currently has a pass rating of 266.3 on third down and Clemson quarterback Boyd has a rating of 137.6.

Why Clemson should win...

•Under Ted Roof the Auburn defense has allowed 383.5 yards and 29.3 points per outing at away games, which means the offense will likely need 30 points to win. Malzahn's offense has averaged 27.0 points per game on the road.

•Until Auburn can show a marked improvement on defense the Tigers are just a play away from recording their first loss since 2009.

•Last year against Clemson at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn had 154 yards and three points on offense after their first seven possessions of the game. The 2011 Auburn offense is off to a slow start at the beginning of games, averaging only 23.6 yards per possession during the first four possessions of the game and only two scoring drives from eight possessions. A slow start on the road will increase the probability of a loss.

•Just as the Auburn team played more inspired football against Mississippi State after a lackluster performance against Utah State, look for Clemson to be more focused this week in its first game against an opponent from a major conference.

•The combination of Auburn's youth and Clemson's veteran roster gives a strong edge to home team this week.

Final Word...

From 1992-2008 Auburn compiled a record of 4-14-0 when its opponent rushed for more than 200 yards. Under Chizik the Tigers are currently 5-2 when allowing 200 yards rushing. The difference is offense. Auburn has scored an average of 35 points per game under Malzahn when the Auburn defense allowed 200 yards rushing.

Auburn offenses from 1992-2008 scored an average of just 16 points when the Tigers allowed 200 yards rushing. Despite Auburn's lack of defense, Malzahn's offense gives Auburn a shot at winning the majority of its games. This is a formula which will be thoroughly tested again against Clemson.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is in his third season at Auburn.

Auburn is fortunate to be 2-0 coming into the Clemson game, but has managed to make the critical plays when needed to remain undefeated. This obviously isn't the method Auburn coaches want to rely on, but it does say something about the effort of this young team performing under duress. While this young team searches for its identity it has scratched and clawed to remain undefeated.

Now that the Tigers are taking their act on the road, a big question is how will Auburn's young players perform when fans are cheering against them rather than supporting them. Last year's team had the luxury of a large group of seniors with a vast amount of road experience, something this year's squad does not have.

With the running game resurfacing against Mississippi State, the Tigers increased the probability of extending their current winning streak of 17 games with a win at Clemson. Both teams have performed poorly on defense, which points towards a high scoring game. The key for Auburn will be supporting Trotter with a consistent running game as he makes his first start in a hostile environment and for the offense to get off to a good start.

Last season Auburn averaged 41.2 yards per possession during the first four possessions of the game while scoring on 55.4 percent of its early possessions. This season Auburn is averaging only 23.6 yards per possession, scoring on 25 percent of its first four possessions of each game.

Clemson possesses one of the more experienced rosters Auburn will face this season. Clemson entered the season with 26 players who had over 20 games of experience, including 11 with over 30 games of experience. Though Auburn is more talented across the board, Clemson's game experience makes it a dangerous team to face on the road.

Auburn is now 24-5 under Chizik. The Tigers are also 10-3 in games decided by seven points or less, including a nine-game winning streak in close games. The saying that "winning breeds success" may explain Auburn's first two wins of the season. It's almost as if this team keeps winning because the Tigers don't know how to lose. Auburn 31, Clemson 27

Around the Southeastern Conference:

LSU over Mississippi State by 9

Georgia over Coastal Carolina by 35

Vanderbilt over Ole Miss by 3

Florida over Tennessee by 4

South Carolina over Navy by 16

Louisville over Kentucky by 3

Alabama over North Texas by 35

Arkansas over Troy by 31

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