Back to the drawing board.
Who will battle to finish in the top half of the SEC Western division? This game is one of the more important matchups on Saturday that will likely determine who’s for real and who’s not.
The Arkansas Razorbacks return to friendly confines as they host the Auburn Tigers on Saturday. The 17th ranked Hogs are looking to bounce back in the win column after a heartbreaking loss as time expired against Ole Miss.
How does Barry Odom prepare to stop the Auburn offense? We may have to stop pretending that Bo Nix is in over his head at quarterback after his performances in every game but Georgia. Their offense has speed with Nix but also Tank Bigsby, the Tigers starting running back. Jarquez Hunter has been another outstanding back who averaged nearly 10 yards a carry for 3 touchdowns. The Hogs struggled to stop the running game last week against Ole Miss. As the Razorbacks start to begin Auburn prep they’ll know that stopping the run is imperative for a Razorback victory.
Auburn has given the threat of not only running the ball which was an old Gus Malzahn special but passing the ball well, too. The Tigers are average a tad over 245 yards through the air and 207 yards on the ground. Nix’ performance against LSU was a big coming out party for him but he couldn’t keep it up against Georgia. His ability to stretch out plays and scramble with the football could cause Arkansas a fit all day if not prepared for.
Defensively, Auburn’s front seven can wreak havoc on Arkansas. They’re big, fast and like to get to the quarterback. The Tigers have sacked their opponent 16 times this season which is tied for sixth in the SEC. Their run defense is stout as they are the third best SEC defense against the run in 2021.
On the other hand their pass defense is one of the weakest in the SEC allowing 216 yards per game. That should allow the passing game to open up the Arkansas running game a little. One of the best stats I’ve found is that Auburn is allowing 316 yards passing in road games in 2021. KJ Jefferson was terrific last Saturday on the road but a return home against a defense that hasn’t been too great away from home could spell victory for the Hogs Saturday afternoon.
The flip side of things is Arkansas is coming a long way in the passing game to start the year. In their three conference games Arkansas has rushed for 622 yards and passed for 659. Becoming more balanced has been a focus of Briles’ offense but will it continue this Saturday? Can the offensive line open up holes to run through against an Auburn defense allowing only 117 yards on the ground? That will be a huge question with Arkansas’ five headed monster in the backfield. Is Rocket Sanders ready to have another breakout performance this time at home? Sanders might have made a push for more carries with his 137 yard day against Ole Miss. The Hogs fifth ranked rushing attack in the SEC will be tested but there should be confidence the Hogs can move the football.
Which team has the edge at each position?
Running backs: Arkansas
Wide Receivers: Arkansas
Offensive Line: Arkansas
Defensive Line: Auburn
Defensive backs: PUSH
Special Teams: PUSH