The Samford Bulldogs come into Auburn's Homecoming contest on Saturday following a 19-14 road win vs. the Citadel while Auburn tries to bounce back from a 45-7 loss at Georgia. The Bulldogs currently possess a 2-71-3 record against Southeastern Conference football teams. They defeated Ole Miss in 1934 and Mississippi State in 1909.
Samford also recorded ties against Auburn in 1927 and Alabama in 1935. Auburn currently holds a 25-0-1 record against Samford. The two teams last met on a football field in 1993 with Auburn defeating the Bulldogs, 35-7.
Samford is currently averaging 396.6 yards and 29.5 points per game on offense against FCS competition. Defensively, the Bulldogs are allowing 360.7 yards and 23.8 points per game.
Look for the Bulldog offense to be more reliant upon its passing against the Tigers with Dustin Taliaferro leading the charge at quarterback. The senior has thrown for 2,140 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
Taliaferro's primary target will be Kelsey Pope, who has 73 receptions on the season for 720 yards. Pope is also a threat running the football out of the wildcat formation. Running back Fabian Truss enters the game with 847 yards rushing and seven touchdowns for the Bulldogs.
Auburn should be able to run on an out-manned Samford defense, which has allowed 188.1 yards per contest on the ground to FCS competition. This game should be a chance for the Auburn offensive line to address some of the issues up front which have plagued the Tigers in their losses this season and gain confidence in the process.
If Auburn can build a commanding lead early, it might be a grand opportunity for freshman Kiehl Frazier to see extensive playing time at quarterback. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said he wants to see the ball spread around to a variety of players and the Samford game should be the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Defensively, Auburn is expected be the dominant team this week, but the Tigers must prove their talent and depth will overtake Samford's will to be competitive in this game. With T'Sharvan Bell out for the season Auburn will have an opportunity to work its younger cornerbacks in live action to prepare for Alabama and the eventual bowl game.
Games like this have always been an opportunity to extensively use backup players, but only if the starters take care of business early in the contest. The Tigers need to tackle well as they face an offense that will utilize misdirection and quick hitting pass plays designed to spread out the defense. Samford's offense should look very familiar to the Tiger defense with former Auburn assistant coach Rhett Lashlee operating a version of Gus Malzahn's offense as the coordinator for head coach Pat Sullivan's Bulldogs.
The main concern for Auburn this Saturday is the mental status of the players. Two decisive losses in the last three games combined with the potential for a lack of enthusiasm to play a BCS level opponent like Samford could make this a close game early. Talent and depth should be enough for the Tigers to win, but don't discount Samford's excitement about playing an SEC team with a chance to make a statement on its biggest stage.
Auburn needs to impose its strength advantage early on to squash any hope the Bulldogs might have in making this a close game. After the demoralizing loss to the Georgia Bulldogs, Chizik stated it was important for Auburn to get back to work. I expect his Tigers will step up to the challenge this Saturday and to dispose of the Bulldogs in an orderly fashion. Auburn 41, Samford 13
Around the Southeastern Conference:
South Carolina over Citadel, 49-10
Georgia over Kentucky, 35-13
Florida over Furman, 41-6
Alabama over Georgia Southern, 59-0
Arkansas over Mississippi State, 34-17
LSU over Ole Miss, 42-7
Vanderbilt over Tennessee, 23-20