StatTiger: Arkansas vs. Auburn by the Numbers

Our resident number cruncher, Stuart Carter, takes a look at the Auburn game versus Arkansas.

Arkansas / 2005 record: 4-7

Offensive Numbers: 217 rushing / 144 passing / 361 total / 26 pts per game
Defensive Numbers: 132 rushing / 209 passing / 341 total / 25 pts per game
Returning Starters: Off: 10 / Def: 9

2006 Statistics:

Record: 3-1 (2-0)
Offense: 188 Rush / 164 pass / 352 total / 20 pts
Defense: 171 rush / 190 pass / 361 total / 23 pts

Against Auburn since 1999:

Record: 3-4 (Auburn has won the last three meetings)
Auburn Numbers: 165 rushing / 216 passing / 381 total / 21 pts per game
Arkansas Numbers: 195 rushing / 175 passing / 370 total / 25 pts per game

Statistical Margins:

Coming into the game, Auburn has averaged 32 yards rushing over what its opponent has allowed on the season. Arkansas has gained an average of 58 more rushing yards than what its opponent has allowed.

In terms of pass offense, Auburn has gained eight yards more per game than what its opponent has allowed and Arkansas is 29 yards below what its opponent has allowed.

Based on the margin of yardage, Arkansas has the better running game and Auburn has the better passing game.

On defense, Auburn has held its opponent to 40 yards below its seasonal average in rushing. Arkansas has allowed 31 more rushing yards than what its opponent has averaged.

In terms of pass defense, Auburn has held its opponents to 43 less yards passing per game than what its opponent has averaged on the season. Arkansas has allowed seven yards more than what its opponent has averaged on the season.

Based on the above margins, Auburn has a decisive advantage on defense.

National Rankings:

Total Offense ……. Auburn 57th … Arkansas 59th
Scoring Offense …. Auburn 42nd … Arkansas 85th
Total Defense ……. Auburn 17th … Arkansas 87th
Scoring Defense …. Auburn 3rd … Arkansas 73rd

Based on each team's national rankings in offense and defense, Auburn has the edge on offense and a huge advantage on defense.

Linebacker Sam Olajubutu has been a force for the Hogs on defense.

Offensive and Defensive Production:

Excluding possessions to expire the half, the Tigers have scored on 53.2 percent of their offensive possessions. This includes touchdown drives on 36.2 percent of their possessions. The Razorbacks have scored on 25 percent of their possessions, including 22.7 percent on touchdown drives.

Defensively, the Tigers have held their opponents to a 15.2 scoring percentage and 10.9 percent on touchdown possessions. The Razorback defense has held their opponents to a 34.8 scoring percentage, including 26.1 percent on touchdown drives.

The Auburn offense has been far more efficient than the Razorback offense and the Tiger defense has been dominating compared to Arkansas.

Keys to Victory

Arkansas is fortunate to be 3-1 coming into the game, but credit must be given to Houston Nutt's team for doing what is needed to win ball games. The Razorbacks have struggled passing the ball and have issues on the defensive side of the ball as well. Like all Houston Nutt's teams, they are very physical and this one is running the ball better than anyone in the conference. Keys to victory include:

*Establishing their running game would be a major key for the Razorbacks to pull the upset.

*Arkansas has been on the short end of the turnover game all season. The Razorbacks have turned the ball over 10 times while forcing just one turnover in four games. If the trend continues, Arkansas will have no chance against Auburn.

*Auburn has been the better offensive team in terms of scoring, but the Razorbacks have moved the ball between the 20's as effectively as Auburn. In fact, the Razorbacks have the same number of touchdown drives over 60 yards as Auburn (8). Even if they cannot score, just having 5-6 possessions of 30 yards or more will keep the Auburn offense off the field, limiting the Tigers scoring opportunities.

Up until the South Carolina game, Auburn's defense had been dominating for the most part. Only time will tell if the Gamecocks were just a glitch along the way or if Steve Spurrier was able to expose major weaknesses on the Auburn defense. Lost in the concern of Auburn's most recent defensive performance was the efficiency of the Tiger offense.

Brandon Cox is shown in action vs. South Carolina.

After completing only 52 percent of his third down passes in his first three games, Brandon Cox has completed 80 percent in the last two. The Auburn offense has scored touchdowns on 44 percent of its possessions in the last two games after scoring only 28 percent in the first three games. Keys to victory for the Tigers include:

*The Razorback defense is allowing over 170 yards rushing per game. A healthy mix of Kenny Irons and Brad Lester could be all Auburn needs to win this Saturday. The "belly" play with Carl Stewart has been a nice wrinkle this season.

*After forcing only four turnovers during the first four games, the Auburn defense forced two against South Carolina. The defense has been sound this season but more turnovers are needed.

*Arkansas is not a "big play" offense, but poor tackling could change that this Saturday. Auburn must tackle well because the Razorbacks will attempt to take a page out of the South Carolina game plan.

*Auburn's kicking game has been stellar this season and until the offense and defense play "lights out" on the same day, the kicking game will be essential.

Final Thoughts...

After breaking down each team's strengths and weaknesses statistically, Auburn should win this game easily. Based on current scoring margins, Auburn should win this game by 24 points. Of course the same could have been said about the South Carolina game. Arkansas has enough "play-makers" on offense to make this a close game if Auburn struggles on defense.

The combination of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones has given Arkansas 6.42 yards per carry from the running back position. Marcus Monk (WR) is a NFL talent and he's currently averaging 19.8 yards per reception. Sam Olajubutu (LB) might be only 5-9, but he's been a tackling machine with 52 tackles in just four games. Antwain Robinson (DE) has 4.5 sacks on the season, which is part of Arkansas's 23 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Simply put, if Auburn executes efficiently on offense, the Tigers will be 6-0 after Saturday. If the Arkansas offense plays to its ability, the Razorbacks are capable of scoring 17-20 points. It's not a question of who the better team is, but who plays the better game on Saturday. Auburn is 5-0 because they are a good team but they have not been a dominant team.

This is not 1983, 1993 or 2004. Auburn is still plugging in the pieces while searching for a new identity. Arkansas had the bye-week, which means a few new wrinkles on both sides of the ball Auburn will have to adjust to during the game. The first half will probably be a "feeling out" process with the edge in talent and coaching taking over in the second half for the Auburn Tigers. How Auburn counters the Razorbacks initial punch will dictate the flow of the game...Auburn 27, Arkansas 13

For the season…

Opponent …………..Pick …... Score
Washington State …. 35-21 …40-14
Mississippi State ….. 30-7 …. 34-0
LSU ……………….. 23-20 ... 7-3
Buffalo ……………. 48-0 …. 38-7
South Carolina ……. 24-6 …. 24-17

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