Five things: Auburn-Arkansas

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
7:00
AM ET
Auburn is currently riding a four-game winning streak, and the Tigers have gained at least 600 yards in their last three games. The only other teams to have a similar streak this season are Baylor and Oregon, two of college football’s most prolific offenses. Auburn hopes to continue the streak this weekend when it visits Arkansas.

Here are five things to watch from Saturday’s matchup with the Razorbacks:

Nick Marshall's status: The Auburn quarterback injured his shoulder in the first half of last week’s win over Florida Atlantic. He’s been able to practice this week but remains questionable for Saturday’s game. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said it would likely be a game-time decision between Marshall and freshman signal-caller Jeremy Johnson. The staff pulled the redshirt off Johnson last month against Western Carolina, and he responded. He’s played significantly in two games, throwing for 393 yards and six touchdowns. Still, if Marshall can play, Malzahn will likely go with his starter. He’s the better runner of the two.

The Batman formation: There was a lot of controversy this week between Malzahn, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and the game tape. The play in question was out of a formation Auburn lines up in during extra points, called the “Batman” formation. Holder Ryan White, who was a quarterback in high school, starts in the shotgun, and he makes the call whether or not they go for two or kick the extra point. On the season, Auburn is 2 for 4 on 2-point conversions. It will be interesting to see what the Tigers do when they score their first touchdown Saturday.

A quarterback’s nightmare: If there’s one thing both Auburn and Arkansas do well, it’s get to the quarterback. Both teams have 20 sacks this season, tied for second in the SEC behind Missouri. The Tigers’ pass rush has greatly improved with the return of senior defensive end Dee Ford. After missing the first two games due to injury, Ford has recorded six sacks in his six games back. He’s among the top 10 in sacks per game. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks have two of the league’s top pass rushers. Senior defensive end Chris Smith leads the team with six sacks, while his counterpart Trey Flowers has four. The quarterbacks will have to watch their back.

Freshman phenom: Through the first five games, Arkansas running back Alex Collins led the SEC in rushing. He’s tapered off some in the last three games, but he’s still one of the more dangerous backs in the league. Auburn struggled against LSU’s pro-style, power offense back in September, and the Razorbacks will try and emulate the same game plan come Saturday. Expect a heavy dose of Collins and fellow running back Jonathan Williams. The Hogs’ duo has totaled 1,409 yards rushing and eight touchdowns this season.

Clutch Tigers: Auburn would rather not have to come back or play a close game into the fourth quarter, but it’s not out of the question when you play on the road in the SEC. If the situation were to present itself on Saturday against Arkansas, the Tigers have proven they’re more than capable of coming through in the clutch. Auburn is 4-0 this season in games decided by eight points or less, including come-from-behind wins against Washington State, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. The most notable was the Mississippi State game, when Marshall led the Tigers on a game-winning drive in the final two minutes.

Greg Ostendorf | email

Auburn/SEC reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


Players Provide Playoff Picks
Some of the top college football players in the country provide their picks on who will win the inaugural College Football Playoff.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12