Marshall: Tigers and Hogs and Strange Series

Should Auburn, an underdog, expect to win on Saturday in Fayetteville? Phillip Marshall tells you what he thinks.

It's been a strange series.

In Tommy Tuberville's previous eight Auburn seasons, he's won four and lost four against Arkansas. Among the Southeastern Conference teams the Tigers play every season, only Arkansas does not have a losing record against Tuberville at Auburn.

And when Tuberville loses to the Razorbacks, he does it right. He lost 34-10 in Fayetteville in 1999, 42-17 in Fayetteville in 2001, 38-17 at Auburn in 2002 and 27-10 at Auburn last season.

A bad omen going into Saturday night's visit to Razorback Stadium? Not necessarily. The Tigers have won on their last two forays into Tuberville's home state, 10-3 in 2003 and 34-17 in 2005. Not only that, they've won 12 of their last 13 road games and have won 14 consecutive games in white jerseys.

What we know about this game and this series is that Arkansas isn't going to be afraid of those white jerseys and Auburn, which has already won in the Swamp, isn't going to be afraid of a hostile crowd on the road.

The keys to victory for the Tigers are obvious. They must find a way to slow down the magnificent duo of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. They must not get so caught up in playing the run that they allow Casey Dick, an average at quarterback at best, to burn them through the air. And they must continue the trend of the last three games and not turn the ball over.


Can Dick keep the Auburn defense honest?

Arkansas (3-2 and 0-2) is playing to keep its faint hopes of making a run in the SEC West alive. Auburn (4-2 and 2-1) is going for its fourth consecutive victory and trying to set up a huge showdown with No. 1 LSU next Saturday in Baton Rouge.

The argument can be made that McFadden and Jones are the best running back duo in SEC history. But they don't have much of a passing game to help them out, and the Razorback defense is a mere shadow of what it was last season.

Auburn can't match McFadden and Jones, but I believe has a better team than Arkansas. Unless the Tigers have another rash of turnovers, I don't see much drama in the fourth quarter.

Auburn 28, Arkansas 17.

Your fearless picker was 4-2 last week and is 34-13 for the season.

On to the rest of the SEC...

ALABAMA (4-2, 2-1) at OLE MISS (2-4, 0-3): Alabama is an ordinary team with a decent record. Ole Miss is a bad team with a bad record but is playing at home.

It'll be close, but in the end, it'll be yet another bad day for a bad team.

Alabama 27, Ole Miss 24.

LSU (6-0, 3-0) at KENTUCKY (5-1, 1-1): It would seem to be a classic trap game for LSU. The Bayou Bengals pulled out a very emotional 28-24 win over Florida at home last Saturday and became the unanimous choice as the nation's No. 1 team. It plays what will be another emotional game against Auburn next Saturday. Last Thursday, Kentucky suffered a disappointing 38-23 loss at South Carolina.

I'm not convinced LSU is the beat of a football team a lot of folks believe it is. Something tells me Kentucky, which was humiliated 49-0 in Baton Rouge last season, will give a good account of itself. Good enough to win? Let's not get carried away.

LSU 27, Kentucky 14.

GEORGIA (4-2, 2-2) at VANDERBILT (3-2, 1-2): Georgia looked downright awful in losing 35-14 at Tennessee last Saturday. Vanderbilt looked downright awful in losing 35-7 at Auburn.

But there is one truism about picking football games in the SEC. Pick whoever is playing Vanderbilt and you'll be right a lot more than you are wrong.

Georgia 28, Vanderbilt 19.

TENNESSEE (3-2, 1-1) at MISSISSIPPI STATE (4-2, 1-2): Sylvester Croom, one of my favorite and favorite people, has already won one more game than he won in any of his first three Mississippi State seasons. If he can find two more, he might get the Bulldogs into a bowl game.

It might be hard to find one more, much less two.

Tennessee 35, Mississippi State 20.

SOUTH CAROLINA (5-1, 3-1) at NORTH CAROLINA (2-4): North Carolina shocked Miami 33-27 in Chapel Hill last Saturday, but that says more about the Hurricanes than it says about the Tar Heels.

Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks don't often win pretty, but they usually win.

South Carolina 31, North Carolina 21.


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