Considered a real contender to Alabama in the SEC West, Auburn fell at the hands of LSU last week and still have a difficult run of Games remaining. Arkansas hasn’t looked good at all, but this has been a team that’s pulled off upsets in the past late in the season. Still, the Tigers were large -15.5 point road favorites as of Tuesday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
After going up by 20 points against LSU last week, no one expected Auburn to lose, but that’s exactly how things played out. Nothing good has happened for Arkansas this season, so not many will trust the home team even as a huge underdog with both of their wins coming against lowly FAMU and NMSU. Building on that, Auburn won this Game 56-3 last season even though the Razorbacks were ranked higher in the polls leading up to it. Given the play of each team so far, there’s a chance for another route unless Arkansas can show something at home.
The Tigers will lean on their ground Game per usual after gashing Arkansas for 543 rushing yards and seven touchdowns last season. Kerryon Johnson has gone for seven touchdowns and over 450 yards in the last three Games so he’ll get another heavy dosage. The injury to Kamryn Pettway has led to a larger role for Johnson and that hasn’t changed much for the running Game. Jarrett Stidham is purely a Game manager at quarterback and that’s what he didn’t do last week, completing just 9-of-26 passes in the loss to LSU. Auburn attempted only 12 passes in this Game last year, so that’s what the plan will be again.
The Razorbacks haven’t shown much defensively so stopping the run could be a problem again for them. They allowed 48 points to South Carolina and 50 points to Texas A&M, which says it all. To cover this matchup, the Hogs will need to find a way to score, unlike a year ago when they couldn’t get anything on the ground and Austin Allen couldn’t do much through the air.
Freshman quarterback Cole Kelley started for Allen last week and he was fine given the situation. He completed 23-of-42 passes for 200 yards against the Alabama defense and led his team to nine points. Things should be slightly easier this week, but Auburn still has one of the better defenses in the SEC, despite giving up some big chunks to LSU. This is a defense that’s locked down the likes of Mississippi State and Ole Miss already. But if the Hogs can’t run the ball similar to last year, that’s not going to be enough for Kelley. Chase Hayden and Devwah Whaley have found little room on the ground the last two weeks and that could easily be the case again.
Coming off a loss, Auburn is the much easier team to back, especially with Arkansas likely rolling with a freshman at quarterback again. The Tigers have covered in their last five against a team with a losing record, while the Razorbacks are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five home Games and 1-6 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The favorite has covered in the last Four meetings between these teams.
Our Pick – OVER 52