Kickoff for Saturday's football game is 11 a.m. CDT and the contest will be televised nationally by ESPN as the 5-0 Tigers look to improve their record to 3-0 in the SEC. Arkansas, a 47-19 winner last week over Texas A&M, is 2-2 overall and 0-2 in the SEC
Auburn has had success in its recent road trips to Fayetteville. The last time the Tigers lost there was a 42-17 setback in 2001. Auburn is 5-3 all-time in games in Fayetteville with three consecutive wins at Reynolds-Razorback Stadium.
"I know a lot of the players on the Arkansas team so I am really looking forward to this game," said Auburn offensive tackle Lee Ziemba, who is from Rogers, Ark., High. Ziemba notes that he grew up watching the Razorbacks play and says they are always tough to beat on their home field.
"I met a lot of the guys on their team through recruiting and playing against them over the years," Ziemba says. "There are really four of us going back home this week counting Coach Malzahn (offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn) so this is really an important game for us. The players are excited about this game and we all want to do well and so does Coach Malzahn."
Junior wide receiver/wildcat quarterback is expected to play a major role in the game as is linebacker Adam Herring, who played his junior and senior seasons in Fayetteville and suburban Springdale, Ark., when his dad, Reggie Herring, was defensive coordinator at Arkansas. Reggie Herring now coaches linebackers for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.
Adam Herring played his junior year at Fayetteville High and transferred to Shiloh Christian for his senior year and was a key player on an unbeaten state championship team.
Burns grew up not far from the Arkansas campus and was a two-sport star at Northside High in Fort Smith, Ark. "You always want to do well when you go home and play in front of your friends and your family," Burns said. "I am excited about it and I think the whole team will be. It is a big game for us."
Burns, who notes that he was less than full speed with a bruised thigh in last week's Auburn win at Tennessee, says he is doing better and is eager to get on the field vs. the Razorbacks. "You always want to show people back home that you made a good decision to go away to college and I feel like I made a good decision to attend Auburn," he says.
Chizik, who coached on the Auburn staff in 2002 as defensive coordinator with Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino who was Auburn's offensive coordinator, said that the Razorbacks are a talented and well-coached team.
Chizik said a key to victory for his team will be to avoid turnovers like the Tigers did at Tennessee as well as keep penalties to a minimum. The Tigers were penalized just twice in their 26-22 win over Tennessee. The coach added if the Tigers can do that, and avoid giving up big plays on defense to an Arkansas team that thrives on the long ball, then his team's chances of success this week will improve.
In other news:
*Saturday's game is the first of three consecutive contests for the Razorbacks against nationally ranked SEC teams. After playing the Tigers, who are ranked 17th and 19th in the major polls this week, will take on No. 1 Florida on Oct. 17th and Ole Miss is ranked 16th in the USA Today Coaches poll and is 20th in the AP ranking.
*The Razorbacks have scored more than 40 points in three of their first four games this season, something they had never done before in school history.
*Senior defensive end Antonio Coleman said it will be important for the Tigers to apply a big plass rush on quarterback Ryan Mallett this week. Coleman said it has been frustrating playing with an injured wrist in recent weeks, something that has hampered his ability to get away from offensive tackles, but he added, "I am not going to use that as an excuse. I am looking for a way to play better and be a big factor this week."
Chizik said he has a lot of respect for Coleman playing hurt and noted that "down the road" the fact that the defensive end has proven he has the toughness to play with an injury will help his status with the pro scouts.
*Chizik and special teams coach Jay Boulware said it will be a game-time decision on whether Anthony Gulley or Philip Pierre-Louis will be the punt returner vs. Arkansas. Gulley opened the Tennessee game with that assignment, but was hurt and Pierre-Louis took over from Gulley, who should be able to play this week, Chizik said. Boulware noted that nobody on the team has stepped up and won the punt returning assignment.
*The game time weather forecast is for temperatures in the 50s with clear skies in Fayetteville.