StatTiger: Previewing Auburn at Vanderbilt

Stuart Carter crunches crunches the numbers as he analyzes this week's Auburn football game as the Tigers head to Nashville to face the Vandy Commodores.

Auburn 1-5 (0-4) vs. Vanderbilt 2-4 (1-3)

Series Record: 20-20-1 (tied)

Last Meeting: 2008, Vanderbilt 14, Auburn 13

National Statistical Rankings (2012):

Rushing Offense: Vanderbilt (No. 79), Auburn (No. 94)
Pass Efficiency Offense: Vanderbilt (No. 65), Auburn (No. 113)
Total Offense: Vanderbilt (No. 92), Auburn (No. 116)
Scoring Offense: Vanderbilt (No. 106), Auburn (No. 115)
Rushing Defense: Vanderbilt (No. 100), Auburn (No. 93)
Pass Efficiency Defense: Vanderbilt (No. 15), Auburn (No. 94)
Total Defense: Vanderbilt (No. 38), Auburn (No. 78)
Scoring Defense: Vanderbilt (No. 41), Auburn (No. 65)
Net Punting: Vanderbilt (No. 11), Auburn (No. 21)
Punt Return Offense: Vanderbilt (No. 64), Auburn (No. 93)
Punt Return Defense: Auburn (No. 3), Vanderbilt (No. 66)
Kick Return Offense: Auburn (No. 8), Vanderbilt (No. 55)
Kick Return Defense: Auburn (No. 4), Vanderbilt (No. 69)
Turnover Margin: Vanderbilt (No. 69), Auburn (No. 120)

Inside the Numbers:

•Senior running back Zac Stacy leads Vanderbilt with 499 yards rushing at 5.04 yards per rush. He has over 2,500 yards rushing during his career.

•Senior quarterback Jordan Rodgers is averaging 213.6 yards passing per game for Vandy, including 237 yards passing against Florida last Saturday.

Jordan Matthews enters the game with 43 receptions on the season for 617 yards. He has caught 48.3 percent of Vanderbilt's passes this season.

•Safety Kenny Ladler leads the Commodores' defense with 42 tackles.

•Linebacker Karl Butler leads the Vandy defense with seven tackles for loss and fellow linebacker Chase Garnham is close behind the leading tackler with 38 stops.

•Like Auburn, Vanderbilt has struggled producing interceptions on defense with two through six games. That is one more than the Auburn defense.

•Vandy's Richard Kent is currently the No. 11 punter nationally with an average of 45.1 yards.

•The Vanderbilt run defense has allowed 5.00 yards per rush along with 40 run plays of 10 yards or more and 14 of 20 yards or more.

•Jordan Matthews has recorded 16 receptions of 15 yards or more.

Jordan Matthews from Madison, Ala., Academy is the SEC's leading pass receiver.

•Vanderbilt's offense is currently averaging 6.63 yards per play on first down.

•Though the overall series is tied at 20-20-1, Auburn is 13-1 against Vanderbilt during the last 14 meetings.

•Both offenses have struggled in allowing tackles for loss. Vanderbilt is No. 114 nationally and Auburn is No. 119 in tackles for loss allowed.

•Auburn's defense is No. 51 nationally in tackles for loss and Vanderbilt is No. 59.

•The average score to the Auburn-Vanderbilt games since 1992 has been 28-9 in favor of the Tigers.

•Auburn has lost at least one fumble in 11 of their last 12 games.

What to watch for...

•Though Jordan Rogers has only nine net yards rushing this season he is a major threat to run the football, gaining 420 rushing yards during the 2011 season. Mobile quarterbacks have been a major challenge for Auburn's defense this season.

•Opposing quarterbacks have compiled an average rating of 146.6 against Auburn's defense. Only one of six opposing quarterbacks has been held to under a 120 rating.

•With Vanderbilt allowing more than 200 yards rushing on defense, look for the Auburn offense to focus on their running game just as they attempted to do against Ole Miss.

•During their five games vs. BCS opponents, Vanderbilt has allowed 522 yards rushing to the opponent's leading running back at an average of 5.2 yards per carry.

•Look for Vanderbilt to challenge a struggling Auburn pass-offense by selling out to stop Auburn's running game.

•Taking Auburn's scoring average in conference play vs. Vanderbilt's scoring margins, it projects a 17-11 Vanderbilt victory. Taking the Commodores' scoring average in conference play vs. Auburn's scoring margins and it projects a 16-10 Auburn victory.

Keys to victory…

•If Auburn cannot establish its running game, Auburn will likely record its sixth loss of the season.

•Once again it will be essential to have Tre Mason heavily involved in the offensive game plan. Hopefully, Mike Blakely will not remain on the bench for the second consecutive game.

Tre Mason has been Auburn's most consistent running threat this season.

•Auburn has won the turnover battle in only three of its last 15 games. With one of the worst offenses in the country, the Tigers must protect the football. Since 1992 Auburn is 14-28-0 in games in which they are minus two or worse in takeaways.

•Because both offenses have struggled this season, look for the team with the most rushing yardage to win this game.

•With both teams averaging only 13 points per game in conference play, field position and special teams could play a major role this Saturday.

Auburn's season continued to spiral out of control with a 41-20 loss to Ole Miss last Saturday and the Tigers remain on the road this week. One could make a case that Vandy is the weakest conference opponent the Tigers will face this season. The glaring reality is Auburn is playing the worst football of any team in the SEC West and only Kentucky is currently playing worse than the Tigers in the 14-team conference.

Auburn enters the second half of the regular season averaging an offensive turnover every 19 snaps, the worst ratio by an AU offense over the past 30 years.

During their previous five BCS games Vanderbilt has allowed 235 yards rushing per contest on defense, something Auburn might be able to take advantage of in Nashville. If the Tigers can establish their running game and eliminate the costly turnovers they have given away like door prizes, they should win this game. The self-destructive tendencies Auburn has shown are not the sign of a well-coached team. Just when the Tigers are able to exhibit something positive, something negative soon follows.

Vanderbilt's offense will be the least productive Auburn has faced this season, which is good news for the visitors. Auburn has competed against five opponents averaging better than 400 yards per game and a sixth that averaged 396 yards per game.

For the season Auburn's defense is holding its opponent to seven percent below their normal average in yardage gained. This could be a game in which Auburn's defense holds the Commodores below 20 points, but can the Tigers score more than 14 points against Vanderbilt? Can Auburn overcome the mistake-prone identity established during the first half of the season?

The scoring averages and scoring margins from conference play projects a low scoring game of 14-14. Home field advantage should tip the scales in favor of Vanderbilt, but Auburn's special teams advantage could swing the momentum back the other way. Auburn is trending towards a youth movement. The new faces in the lineup could prove to be a spark for the team if they can avoid the early mistakes. Auburn has been outscored in the first period, 30-7 and in the final period 38-0 in conference play.

Look for Auburn to take advantage of the break in competition and to limit their mistakes enough to record their first conference game of the season. Auburn 20, Vanderbilt 17.

Around the Southeastern Conference...

LSU over Texas A&M
South Carolina over Florida
Alabama over Tennessee
Georgia over Kentucky
Mississippi State over Middle Tennessee State

Season Record: 52-12.


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