Series Record: First meeting
About the teams:
Both squads are led by second-year head coaches. Gus Malzahn led Auburn to a 12-2 record in 2013, capturing the Southeastern Conference Championship. Ron Caragher and San Jose State went 6-6 during 2013.
Caragher enters his eighth season as a head coach, compiling a 51-28 record, including a 7-6 mark at San Jose State. Gus Malzahn is 22-5 overall and 13-2 at Auburn.
San Jose State opened the 2014 season with a 42-10 victory over North Dakota and Auburn defeated Arkansas 45-21 in conference play.
The Spartans return 15 starters from 2013 with five on offense, nine on defense and one on special teams. The Tigers return 14 starters with eight on offense and six on defense.
San Jose State had to replace quarterback David Fales, who passed for 66 touchdown passes the past two seasons. He was the heart of the Spartan offense and was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the sixth round.
The Spartans struggled defending the run during 2013, allowing 226 yards per game against their 11 FBS opponents. They allowed four opponents to rush for more than 300 yards.
San Jose State is currently 51-171-3 against FBS teams from a major conference. The Spartans are 0-4 against SEC teams, losing by an average score of 50-12.
Auburn is 3-0 against teams from the Mountain West Conference with an average score of 46-20.
Based on Scout.com’s recruiting database, 89 of Auburn’s 91 players signed during the last four recruiting classes were rated as three-stars or better. Only 14 of San Jose State's last 89 recruits signed were rated as three-stars or higher.
Since losing to Southern Miss in 1991, Auburn has compiled a 61-0 record vs. teams from a non-major conference. The average score during those games has been 41-13.
Inside the Numbers...
*The Spartans allowed 459 yards and 35 points per game last season, which resulted in the hiring of veteran defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. He was the former defensive coordinator at the University of Texas under Coach Mack Brown.
*Linebacker Christian Tago is the Spartans’ leading returning tackler. Tago had 90 stops during the 2013 season, which included 10.5 tackles for loss.
*Wide receiver Tyler Winston returns after hauling in 58 passes during 2013 for 858 yards. He had 10 receptions during San Jose State's season opener against North Dakota.
*Thomas Tucker was second on the team with 358 yards rushing and a team high 5.1 yards per rush among players with at least 40 attempts. Tucker led the Spartans with 81 yards rushing in the first game.
*During the four games last season in which San Jose State allowed more than 300 yards rushing, the Spartans also allowed an average of 45.7 points.
*The Spartans gave up an average of 6.0 yards per rush attempt on first downs last season, which ranked 117th nationally.
*San Jose State allowed a run play of 10 yards or more every 5.9 rush attempts, which was No. 113 nationally during 2013.
*The Spartans were ranked No. 17 nationally last season in pass efficiency.
*San Jose State was No. 10 nationally in producing pass plays of 25 yards or more during 2013.
*Last season the Spartan defense ranked No. 106 in yards allowed on first down at 6.69 yards per play.
*San Jose State quarterback Blake Jurich went 22 of 25 for 250 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener.
Nick Marshall picks up yardage on the ground in game one vs. Arkansas.
*Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant combined for 264 yards rushing on 36 attempts while D'haquille Williams and Melvin Ray caught a combined 11 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns against the Razorbacks.
Keys to victory...
*San Jose State will operate from a spread offense and is heavily reliant upon the passing game. The Auburn secondary will be thoroughly tested and must tackle well to avoid the big play. It will be important to apply pressure on the Spartan quarterback or he will nickel and dime the Auburn secondary.
*From 2000-2013 Auburn has faced 36 opponents from a non-major conference. The Tigers have averaged 487 yards and 44 points in those contests while allowing 291 yards and 14 points. Auburn needs to treat this game as an opportunity to fine tune its schemes and execution.
*The only way this game becomes competitive is for Auburn to struggle against the Spartans’ passing attack and to lose the turnover battle by a considerable margin.
There are very few breaks in Auburn's schedule this season, but San Jose State should provide some relief for the Tigers before they take to the road to face nationally ranked Kansas State. Auburn's front seven was challenged early against Arkansas during the season opener and the secondary will be the focal point this week against San Jose State.
Auburn should be able to score early and often against the Spartans, providing a good weekend for Marshall to polish his delivery. The Razorbacks were unable to truly challenge the Auburn secondary, but San Jose State will likely throw the football 35-40 times this Saturday.
This is a game Auburn can lean heavily upon its running attack to put the contest away, but expect a fair share of play-action passes of the vertical variety to generate explosive plays in the passing game. This will likely be the game plan until Auburn establishes a comfortable lead in an attempt to further develop their passing game.
If the Tigers are fortunate enough to develop such a lead, expect plenty of playing time for the younger players in a more conservative approach offensively. It will be interesting to see how the quarterbacks will be utilized early in the game. Though Marshall will be the starter, Johnson will likely see significant playing time.
Expect to see Johnson running the occasional zone read option and for Marshall to take his shots downfield in the passing game. It is important for both quarterbacks to be able to operate the entire offense efficiently moving forward. This will prevent the Tigers from becoming too predictable depending on which quarterback is on the field. Auburn 55, San Jose State 17
Around the Southeastern Conference:
Alabama over Florida Atlantic
Missouri over Toledo
Tennessee over Arkansas State
Mississippi State over UAB
Kentucky over Ohio
Florida over Eastern Michigan
Arkansas over Nicholls State
Ole Miss over Vanderbilt
South Carolina over Eastern Carolina
LSU over Sam Houston State
Texas A&M over Lamar
Season Record: 9-2