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Arkansas Fight Panel Discussion Part II: Let's Talk About Auburn

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Here's part II of our first panel discussion. You can read Part I here.

Kevin C. Cox

Let's turn the focus to Auburn. Ok, so, really, honestly, what percent chance do you give the Razorbacks of beating Auburn (and why)?

Robert: Oh geez. 25%? As far as I can remember, we haven't lost an opener since we last played a bcs team in an opener in 2006. Auburn may be the most vulnerable 12-2 team I've ever seen though and that's why we get upgraded to 25%.

Jamie: 15%:  I'd rather play Auburn week 1 than any other time in the season. And we always, always play well at Auburn. 2006, 2008, 2012 were all wins at Auburn for whatever the past means. I can't say I wouldn't be surprised, but it'd make more sense than any other major upset opportunities we have this season.

Devan: 35%. I honestly think Arkansas will give Auburn all they can handle. They gave Auburn all they could handle last year and that game was a lot closer than 18 points. The HUNH vs. SDHU (Slow down huddle up) type of game seems to match up well for Arkansas. Each team they played last year they gave them good games. A&M and Ole Miss are good examples of this. I like Arkansas to keep this one close.

Mark: I actually relish this opportunity and auburn fans should be squirming a little. Literally, we have nothing to lose. I give us a Jim Braddocks chance against Max Baer. Why? This is the time to get auburn, I like our chances to run right at em, and we historically play well there. I know history doesn't play the games but it certainly impacts mindsets. I think we'll be licking our chops ready to get last years bad taste out of our mouths.

Scottie: 20-25 percent. I think there's a chance we can win because crazy things have happened with this program on the road in the past, especially Auburn. I'm also somewhat confident Arkansas can run the ball and control the clock and make passes when needed, kind of like LSU last season. I believe Arkansas will be able to move the ball, and that could be big.

Tyler: I may be am definitely wearing Razorback red-colored glasses, but I give Arkansas about a 40-45% chance of winning. Auburn is more talented and runs a scheme that is tough to prepare for, but they seem to start off sluggish year after year. Last year, they barely beat a Washington State team that wasn't much of factor later on in the season. I think the Hogs are much improved, bigger, stronger, and faster than last year. Most importantly, I think Arkansas is hungry. They've had all spring and summer to prepare for this game, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them come out and take the dang thing.

Ryan: 1% is all I give the Hogs. People point to the 2006 Auburn game as proof that is can be done, but there is absolutely no comparing this Arkansas team, or that Auburn team for that matter, to their 2014 versions.

Josh: To me it is a 30% chance, but there are so many unknowns being the first game of the season. How the game plays out will depend on turnovers, which Arkansas gave up a lot last year and did not create many on D. Playing on the road at Auburn for most teams (including Alabama) has been a nightmare scenario. For some reason Arkansas has fared better, but this team has not shown they can go in to a wild hostile environment and play well.

Adam P: I believe I said a 30% chance on this week's podcast. I know that might be Kool-Aid fueled to most, but with how we played last year, I want to believe that we can build on that "moral victory."

Mitchell: I would say we have a 33% chance of winning this game. We have the disguise of being a 3 win team,  a running game that'll knock you on your ass, a quarterback who (hopefully) will limit mistakes, and most importantly, it'll be Auburn's first game of the season. Let's not pretend like they don't think KSU is their first real test.

Adam F: About 25 percent chance. Arkansas' best bet is to control the tempo on the ground, which will include not turning it over, not committing penalties, running the ball well, and completing passes on third down. Defensively, the Hogs need to find a way to force a couple of turnovers. Maybe some fire zone blitzes that Auburn hasn't prepared for. Nearly all Auburn possessions not derailed by turnovers or penalties will probably end in points, so Arkansas has to force mistakes. The passive, reactionary defensive mentality that Ash championed has to go.

Doc: I'm thinking 10-15%. One-in-ten chance feels about right. I think Arkansas will be competitive but until they show they have the ability to complete an upset like this it's hard to say they'll finish the job if they get close. The Tigers just have too many weapons, but there's always some unknowns about a first game. It should be fun to watch

So if we're not actually expecting a victory (even if we think there's a chance) what has to happen in order for you to feel good about the season moving forward? Is it victory or bust? Covering the spread? What will you be looking for?

Adam F: Arkansas needs to win the battles that it should have an advantage in. For example, Auburn has virtually no pass-rush. If Brandon Allen is running for his life, I'll be worried about the line. The receivers need to get off the line without being jammed (Auburn's 4-2-5 scheme will generally allow for that). The linebackers need to flow to the ball. Penalties and turnovers need to be minimal.

Devan: It is definitely not victory or bust. We all should be looking to see if that progress that they made over the last 4 games last year has translated into this season. If it has they shouldn't lose by more that 10 points on Saturday. If they look good and put up a fight, that should give us all hope that this team is going to be vastly improved this year.

Scottie: We just need to be competitive and I won't lose a majority of my hope for a decent season in the first week. I've done a Q&A with the Auburn paper and they asked for a score prediction, and I had Arkansas covering. Covering the spread will be sufficient enough for me.

Ryan: Just covering the spread will make me happy. Losing by less than three touchdowns on the road versus the national runner-up is so much better than a 52-7 home loss to South Carolina.

Adam P: I'm predicting this game to be closer than the spread, without a doubt. If we're playing competitive, that's all that matters. I don't think we will win, but I would hate to get USC'd and our players get so emotionally killed that they can't recover. I don't think that will happen, but you never know. First game = moral victory.

Mark: Being competitive is a must, and covering the spread, absolutely. I think we take the game into the 4th.

Mitchell: I would say losing by no more than 10 points will keep the wheels on the wagon. However, I think how quickly Malzahn puts Nick Marshall into the game should determine a moral victory. If we see him after a couple of drives that's a win.

Robert: If the Hogs limit the penalties, cause the lauded first team Auburn offense to punt (at least once), and avoid turning the ball over more than once, we may see a competitive game. I'm really going to be watching the Arkansas wideouts to see if they are blocking well downfield and beating their men one on one during pass plays. On defense I'm watching the line backers, because they will have the toughest job defending the varied run plays.

Jamie: Stay. In. The. Game.  Can't get blown out, gotta stay in the game and show progress.  We don't have to win, but we can't lose by more than Vegas thinks we will.  We always seem to play well at Auburn.  I want to see a well balanced offense that shows that we aren't a run or die program.  That we can rely on our WR's to open things up for our 3 stud RBs, and our defense has got to hold up.  Can't give up several big plays.  Don't have to win, but need to make people question their placement of us at the basement of the West.

Josh: I will be looking for the focus, fire and execution that the team showed at times against Auburn last season and at times in the LSU game. If this can be matched with a better strategy on defense, the game will be a success. Will that be enough to win the game? Not sure but being competitive without throwing every trick play, blitz, etc at them would be a huge sign of progress. Being able to dictate to Auburn what they do, as Florida St. was able to do would be a huge improvement. In the 2013 game Auburn was able to pick and choose exactly where to attack the Arkansas defense. On offense progress would look like a steady 8-10 play drives picking up first down after first down and resulting in a field goal or flipping the field position at the least.

Tyler: My satisfaction will be based on how competitive Arkansas is. I always want the Hogs to win and sure, I'm never happy when they lose, but coming off a 3-9 year and taking on the #6 defending SEC Champs at their place is a daunting task. I do think that the spread is way too high and many are overlooking this game that shouldn't be. I look for the Hogs to give Auburn all they want and maybe even more.

With all the rivalry talk between Arkansas and Auburn for over a year now, what do think of Gus Malzahn and the Tigers (this is your invitation to post rational/irrational hate)?

Adam P: In all honesty, my hatred for Gus is simply because I need to throw my anger somewhere. Something about him rubs me the wrong way, which I admit is probably just jealousy in his winning ways. But until he's at a program for 5-years, I refuse to believe he's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Mitchell: I think Auburn is a shady rat's nest full of NCAA recruiting violations that happens to be coached by a future College Football Hall of Famer.

Devan: I honestly think he is a fantastic football coach and you have to respect that. On the same hand though, you can't like him at Auburn.  If he was coaching anywhere but Auburn and in the SEC I wouldn't have to care as much about what his teams do each year. Here's to hoping he gets offered the Dallas Cowboys job here soon.

Scottie: I enjoy watching his offense. Don't care for Auburn, really.

Ryan: I'm happy for him. Anytime an Arkansas boy can go out and make a name for himself on the national level, I'm happy for them. Arkansas wasn't interested in him and he wasn't interested in them, so I don't know why people beef with him so much. Haters will always hate.

Adam F: He's a great coach. Constantly innovating and adapting. His teams are fun to watch. But I don't get the debate over him. When he accepted the head coaching job at Auburn, he forever alienated himself from Arkansas. There shouldn't any kind of discussion on it. I haven't ever met any of the so-called "Gus huggers" that the message boards speak of - which causes me to think that the "Gus hugging" movement may be overstated - but if they do exist, they should not be treated as Razorback fans.

Robert: Gus Malzahn has coached for or against Arkansas every year (except 2007 and 2012) since 2006. I kinda wish this guy would take a job in another conference so we could stop talking about his history with Arkansas. Auburn as a fan base is not unlikable. I still remember beating them when they were #2 in the country, but I will always judge them for their Cam Newton purchase. I doubt they feel bad about their national championship with him. I'm very interested to see if Gus can run a football team long term.

Jamie: I've had the opportunity to be at every Auburn/Arkansas game on the Plains for the last 10-12 years.  Auburn fans are honestly some of the most friendly and best sports on campus I've ever encountered.  I've walked out of Jordan-Hare Stadium many times with a broad smile after an upset win by my Hogs and received more "good games" and "congratulations" from Aubbies than any other fan base after a road win by the Hogs.  That said, I'm convinced they paid Cam and bought the 2010 National Championship.  Malzahn fits well there, I'd rather him be outside the SEC, but I'd rather have Bret Bielema than Malzahn as the Head Hog.

Josh: Its just one of those things where he is a successful Arkansan, former HS coach, who was probably not given fair treatment under Nutt, and who has went on to even bigger things. Just too hard not to be interested in his style of play even though Arkansas has gone in an entirely different direction. That being said it would make my day to see Bret Bielema walk to the middle of the field after the final seconds tick away shake hands with Malzahn with a smirk on his face, and all through to post game interview.  It would totally throw the entire ESPN/SEC media frenzy in to full blown crazy mode.

Tyler: If I'm being honest, I think my hatred for Auburn burns hotter than just about any other team. Auburn is where they are because of freakishly athletic QB's Cam Newton and Nick Marshall who were both kicked off of other teams. I think Gus' system is effective, but I don't think the man is a genius. He really doesn't run that many different plays. He beats you between plays by going fast-paced and getting you out of position. To me, that's not football, that's just cheap gimmicks. Gus lovers throughout Arkansas really grind my gears too. Root for the home state team, not a coach.

Mark: Guess I'm one of the few who has no strong feelings either way on Gus. He seems like a good guy; he got hosed given the situation he found himself in back in 06. But I'm personally not a big fan of the spread. As for Auburn, again, no strong feelings of hate like for Bama or LSU.

Doc: Auburn's been my most hated team since he went there in 2009. From Michael Dyer and Kiehl Frazier and Dyer's eff-you touchdown at the end of the 2010 game despite sitting the whole game out for some injury, Kristi saying that video they only recruited Cam for a couple of weeks (and everybody focusing on everything else in that video), all the Boise of the South talk at ASU when Boise became Boise completely because Chris Petersen turned down tons of bigger jobs for years only for Gus to bolt after one year, how he dealt with Dyer at ASU, all the luck.

The whole package rubs me the wrong way. Feels slimy. It might be irrational, but everything about college football is at least a little irrational. I'm so glad it's back!