Pregame Breakdown: Southern Miss at Auburn

Jason Caldwell previews and analyzes game two for the Auburn Tigers as the Southern Miss Golden Eagles come to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.--A preview of Saturday's Southern Mississippi at Auburn football game is featured.


When Southern Miss has the ball: All eyes will be on All-American candidate Damion Fletcher and the Golden Eagle rushing attack after racking up 427 rushing yards last week against Louisiana-Lafayette, but how USM can throw the ball against the Auburn defense will tell the story. Last week USM starter Austin Davis threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-21 win. Freshman receiver DeAndre Brown had four catches for 92 yards and will be a tough test for the Auburn secondary.

When Auburn has the ball: The focus will be on the passing game for the Tigers with Chris Todd getting his first start for the Tigers. Last week Auburn's quarterbacks threw for just 85 total yards with 70 for Todd and 15 for Kodi Burns. With Burns banged up after cutting his leg in the opener and questionable for Saturday, it could be Todd's game to sink or swim. Auburn will face a challenge from a Southern Miss defense that has the potential for big plays led by linebacker Gerald McRath. The Golden Eagles did give up 263 rushing yards in the opener, something Auburn is likely to exploit in Saturday's contest.

For Southern Miss to pull off the upset: Fletcher and the running game will have to continue to dominate the opposition. Behind an offensive line that features a pair of large tackles, including 6-6, 353-pound former Mississippi State lineman Calvin Wilson, if Fletcher and fellow back Bubba Kirksey can run like they did in week one it will mean trouble for the Tigers.

What Auburn needs to do to take care of business: First and foremost the job is to take away the USM running game and make Davis beat the Tigers with the pass. Offensively, Auburn needs to be more balanced with Todd opening up the passing game much more to Tony Franklin's liking. Expect a much closely balanced gameplan than last week's that saw Auburn run the ball 46 times and throw it 27. If Todd can execute in the passing game the Tigers shouldn't have a problem moving to 2-0.

Southern Miss newcomer to watch: Freshman wide receiver DeAndre Brown. One of the nation's top prospects last season, Brown was recruited by all the big boys across the country, but most backed off when it didn't appear he would qualify. Now in school and dealing fits to the opposition, the 6-6, 228 Brown will be someone the Tigers must keep a close watch on during Saturday's game.

Auburn newcomer to watch: It's an easy one for the Tigers. Chris Todd didn't get off to the start he was hoping for in week one with a 9-18 night that featured one touchdown and one interception. Finishing on a positive note in the first game, Todd gets the start in week two and will have the chance to show his stuff against a Southern Miss defense that displayed some signs of weakness in the season opener.

The difference maker: The crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium can give the home team a boost for this 11:30 a.m. kickoff. Auburn is 262-64-7 all-time at Jordan-Hare Stadium and 48-10 since the 2000 season. The last Auburn loss to a non-BCS opponent at home was way back in 1991 to, you guessed it, Southern Miss by the score of 10-9. If Auburn plays to its potential there will be no repeat this time around as the defense should be too much and an improved passing game leads the Tigers to a second victory heading into SEC play.


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