Teams are at the halfway mark of the season and Arkansas needs a great second half if it wants to earn a bowl bid. The Razorbacks started SEC league play with a 1-2 record, and now they are currently 2-4 overall, but Saturday’s game against Auburn marks Arkansas’ first SEC home game of the season.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said his squad looked focused in practice during the bye week and that new leaders have emerged in the locker room.
Here’s what else you need to know:
Auburn (4-2, 1-2) at Arkansas (2-4, 1-2)
Kickoff: Sat., Oct. 24, 12 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Weather: 62 degrees, 40 percent chance of rain (weather.com)
Line: Arkansas -6 ½
By the numbers
35 — Days since Arkansas last played in Fayetteville (Sept. 19 vs Texas Tech). The Razorbacks played three conference games out of the state followed with a bye. This is Arkansas’ only SEC home game until Nov. 21 when they host Mississippi State. Arkansas has four total home games remaining. If they win at home, they qualify for a postseason bowl.
22-4 — Combined records of the four teams who have defeated Arkansas. Toledo remains undefeated, No. 8 Alabama’s loss was to Ole Miss, Texas A&M’s loss was to Alabama and Texas Tech’s two losses were to No. 2 Baylor and No. 4 TCU.
22.4 — Points allowed per game average for the Razorbacks. Arkansas has every opponent below its average points-per-game this season. Through Week Eight, opponents have collectively averaged 36.1 ppg.
74.1 — Auburn’s third-down conversion success. The Tigers have converted 23-of-31 third downs from a distance of 1-4 yards.
Storylines to Watch
Can Auburn’s running game make a dent in the Arkansas run defense?
Auburn’s Peyton Barber has rushed for more than 100 yards in four games this season. He leads the FBS with 31 rushes resulting in first downs during second half and overtime play. Meanwhile, the Arkansas defense allows just 107 yards per game, holding their opponents to an average of 81 yards below their yearly average.
Who will win in the trenches?
Arkansas has the biggest offensive line in football (college or pro). Auburn’s defensive line doesn’t care. They even said so this week. The Razorbacks look to unleash running back Alex Collins to look for holes and open up the play action pass. But don’t get fooled by Auburn’s 197 rushing yards allowed (13th in the SEC). LSU ran for 411 against Auburn, mainly with LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Take away the LSU game, and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has a tough Auburn defense.
Which team will gain momentum first?
Both teams started SEC with two losses before bouncing back with road wins against teams from the East. A win gives one team a mini win streak while the other team will sit alone at the bottom of the SEC West. Although the game’s biggest battles will be on the line, both quarterbacks will need to spread the ball around the field. Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen said the Razorbacks will need a balanced attack and a great time of possession advantage to keep Auburn’s offense off the field.
How will Auburn’s Sean White fare?
The Auburn quarterback will face the nastiest defense he’s seen all year. After the Tigers lost to LSU, Auburn started White against Mississippi State, he connected with nine different receivers but Auburn still ended up losing. Since then, White has faced San Jose State and then went on the road to Kentucky. Saturday in Fayetteville will be the most raucous crowd the freshman will have faced so far. White, who replaced the ballyhooed Jeremy Johnson in the fourth game, is 43-of-65 this season for 551 yards and no touchdowns this season.
Prediction: Arkansas 29, Auburn 25
The 11 a.m. (CST) kickoff will have both teams sluggish at first, but things might get chippy in the trenches, which will carry over to the playmakers on both sides of the ball. for each team.
Both teams need this win, but Arkansas needs it more if it wants to get on a roll to become bowl eligible. The Hogs haven’t played at home in more than a month. The fans will rock the stadium in a momentum-filled matchupgame that will see the Razorbacks complete a huge play to win the game.