Series record: Auburn is 11-8-1 vs. Arkansas
2011 National Rankings:
Rush Offense: 37th/Rush Offense: 91st
Pass Offense: 98th/Pass Offense: 7th
Total Offense: 79th/Total Offense: 16th
Score Offense: 52nd/Score Offense: 16th
Rush Defense: 108th/Rush Defense: 82nd
Pass Defense: 74th/Pass Defense: 60th
Total Defense: 106th/Total Defense: 75th
Score Defense: 74th/Score Defense: 48th
Both teams enter Saturday night's game with 4-1 records, but Arkansas already has a conference loss against Alabama. A loss to Auburn would just about knock the Razorbacks out of the competition to win the West because they would need Alabama to drop three conference games, which is highly unlikely.
Coach Bobby Petrino is currently 27-16 since taking over at Arkansas, including a 2-1 record against Auburn. Auburn is coming off a 16-13 victory over South Carolina and Arkansas rallied to defeat Texas A&M, 42-38.
The Razorbacks are again a strong offensive team, led by quarterback Tyler Wilson, who is averaging 303.4 passing yards per game.
The Razorbacks feature a strong group of receivers led by Jarius Wright, who has 28 receptions for 478 yards and five touchdowns. He set a school record last week with 13 catches vs. Texas A&M. Joe Adams is close behind Wright with 21 receptions on the year.
Running back Ronnie Wingo Jr. is trying to fill the loss of Knile Davis, who was injured before the season started. Wingo is currently averaging a respectable 4.7 yards per rush, but Arkansas is not as balanced without Davis at running back. In its two games vs. teams from BCS conferences, Arkansas has averaged only 44 yards rushing.
Ronnie Wingo runs in last week's 42-38 victory over Texas A&M.
Linebacker Jerry Franklin leads the Razorbacks in tackles with 36, including 3.5 tackles for loses. The defense has registered only five sacks through five games and is currently 106th in tackles for loss, a huge drop from its No. 13 ranking in 2010.
Arkansas is No. 44 in pass efficiency defense with only three interceptions. In its last three games Arkansas has allowed 494 yards and 35 points per outing, including 457 yards to Troy. The run defense has allowed 5.86 yards per rush in the last three games.
On special teams Arkansas is ranked No. 79 nationally in net punting, No. 19 in punt return offense and No. 107 in punt return defense. The Razorbacks are No. 28 in kickoff return offense and No. 82 in kickoff return defense. The Auburn Tigers could have an advantage on special teams, which played a major role in victories over Mississippi State and South Carolina.
Matchups to watch...
•Arkansas currently has a solid pass rating of 160.9 on 3rd down while Auburn's defense has a pass rating of 168.0 on 3rd down pass defense.
•Auburn averages 5.27 yards per rush on first down while the Arkansas defense allows 4.49 yards on first down.
•Auburn has averaged 97 yards rushing during the first half this season while the Arkansas defense has allowed 84.4 yards rushing during the first half.
•Arkansas has an explosive pass offense with 45 pass plays of 15 yards or more in just five games. The Auburn pass defense has allowed 24 such plays through five games. Clemson's pass offense, which is currently rated higher than Arkansas, had 10 impact pass plays against Auburn.
•Arkansas is currently No. 81 nationally in sacks allowed giving up 2.4 per game. Can a struggling Auburn pass rush get to the quarterback? That will be one of the keys on Saturday night. The Tigers are currently averaging only 1.2 sacks per game.
•Who will win the line of scrimmage? Arkansas is currently No. 90 in tackles for losses allowed, giving up 6.6 per game, while the Auburn defense is No. 56 in tackles for loss with 6.1 per game. The Razorback defense is No. 105 in tackles for loss with only 4.4 per game, but Auburn is No. 106 nationally in tackles for loss allowed with 7.4 per game.
•Arkansas is No. 19 in punt return offense and Auburn is No. 89 in punt return defense average, but has only allowed three punts to be returned this season.
•Auburn is No. 16 in kickoff return offense and Arkansas is No. 82 in kickoff return defense.
•Auburn quarterback Barrett Trotter must play more efficiently this week facing an Arkansas defense currently ranked No. 44 in pass efficiency defense, No. 103 in sacks and No. 108 in forced turnovers.
Barrett Trotter runs for yardage last week vs. the Gamecocks of South Carolina.
•Auburn running back Michael Dyer will be eyeing a defense which is allowing 5.7 yards per rush to the opponent's leading rusher. Dyer enters the game averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Why Auburn should win...
•Taking the scoring margins and averages from the Razorbacks' games against Troy, Alabama and Texas A&M vs. Auburn's games against Utah State, Mississippi State, Clemson and South Carolina, Auburn should win by two points.
•The strength of Auburn's offense is its running game going up against the weakest portion of the Razorback defense.
•If the game ends up being close Auburn has won its last 10 games decided by seven points or less.
•Auburn ran for 242 yards in 2009 vs. Arkansas and 330 yards in 2010. The Razorbacks are allowing an average of 289 rushing yards per contest in their last two games.
Why Arkansas should win...
•Arkansas has the No. 16 scoring offense matched up against an Auburn defense ranked No. 74 in points allowed.
•Petrino's offense at Arkansas has averaged 492 yards and 37 points per game against Auburn over the past three seasons.
•In the last three meetings against Arkansas, Auburn's pass offense has averaged only 136.7 yards per game with one touchdown pass from 72 pass attempts.
•Under Petrino the Razorbacks have averaged 460 yards and 38 points per game playing at home. During that same time period Auburn's defense has allowed 373 yards and 26 points per game on the road.
As well as the Auburn defense performed at South Carolina, the Tigers will have their hands full this Saturday in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have scored more than 40 points on Auburn in the last two meetings and clearly have the offensive firepower to make it three in a row.
In its last 31 games Arkansas has scored at least 30 points 23 times. During that same time period Auburn's defense has surrendered 30 or more points 14 times. Under Ted Roof as defensive coordinator, Auburn has allowed 27.4 points per game on the road against Southeastern Conference opponents. Recent scoring trends would indicate a high probability the Razorbacks will score more than 30 points against the Tigers Saturday night.
For Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, Dyer and freshman quarterback Kiehl Frazier the Arkansas game will be a homecoming event and all three will have an opportunity to make a major impact in the outcome. For Malzahn this is the first time in the last five seasons his offense has registered only one 400-yard game during a five-game period. This is a slump Auburn must break out of if the Tigers are to have a chance of outscoring the Razorbacks.
Dyer is on pace for 1,400 rushing yards this season and is ranked 18th nationally this week in rushing yards per game. He will certainly be the focus of Auburn's offense based on previous games and he will be highly motivated to do well as he returns to his home state. Look for the continued expansion of Frazier's role in the offense and for his first touchdown as an Auburn Tiger.
Michael Dyer rushed for 141 yards on 41 carries vs. South Carolina.
Last week against South Carolina the Auburn defense played its best game of the season holding a Southeastern Conference opponent to under 14 points for the first time since 2008. After surrendering 624 yards and five touchdowns to Clemson, Auburn's defense has allowed a combined total of 596 yards and three touchdowns in its last two games.
Auburn's secondary and defensive front will be facing one of the best pass offenses in college football. The key will be how well Auburn can disguise pass coverage and blitz packages. Though the attention will be on Razorback quarterback Wilson, who threw for a school-record 510 yards last week, Petrino's leading rusher has averaged 137 yards in the last three meetings against Auburn. Wingo and Dennis Johnson are both capable of rushing for 100 yards given enough carries.
Auburn should be able to run on the Razorbacks, but it will require a more balanced attack to match the Arkansas offense. With Auburn's recent personnel losses at wide receiver the Tigers will need DeAngelo Benton, Quindarius Carr and Travante Stallworth to step up. Ladarious Phillips had a strong game against South Carolina, which might free up Philip Lutzenkirchen to play more of the "3" position this week.
Trotter will have to perform well this Saturday. He has completed only 53 percent of his passes during Auburn's last three games. Passing more often on first down might help restore his confidence. Last week the Auburn defense finally played to its potential and the offense will be looking to do the same against the Razorbacks.Auburn 38, Arkansas 35
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