AUBURN, Ala. -- It’s being hailed as the matchup between the two best quarterbacks in the SEC.
But the difference in Saturday’s clash between Arkansas and Auburn might well come down to which defense can make the critical stop (or stops) in the second half.
Both defenses are improved from last season. The Tigers, in particular, have shown a knack for making key plays defensively in the second half this season and have limited the big plays.
Ted Roof’s defense has also been better against the run this season, and that was a big priority back in the preseason. The Tigers are second in the SEC in rushing defense.
The other chief factor Saturday will be the crowd, which obviously works in Auburn’s favor.
In talking to Auburn coaches and other officials this week, they said the crowd made a huge difference in both the Clemson and South Carolina wins this season. Both times, the Tigers rallied in the second half.
Few stadiums get as loud as Jordan-Hare Stadium, which is renowned for its student section. The students have already been in the stadium for two hours, and we still have almost an hour until kickoff.
We'll see which of the teams is ready to take a big step in the Western Division race.