After a tight opening win against Washington State, Auburn could be in for a surprise against a tough Arkansas State team Saturday night. Television coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports Net and WatchESPN.
Former Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn will face off against his former team after leaving the Red Wolves for Auburn after just one season. Malzahn, who came to Arkansas State from Auburn (where he was the offensive coordinator), led the Red Wolves to a 10-3 record and a Sun Belt championship in 2012. New Arkansas State head coach Bryan Harsin comes to Jonesboro after experience as the offensive coordinator of both Boise State and Texas.
Auburn opened up the Malzahn era with a 31-24 victory over Washington State, warding off Mike Leach's spread attack with a 75-yard touchdown run from Corey Grant and three late field goals from Cody Parkey. The Tigers were outgained by 70 yards in the game, but showed strength on the ground and held Connor Halliday to just 5.3 yards per passing attempt.
Arkansas State had a similarly strong rushing game in its opener against FCS opponent Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Red Wolves ran for 509 yards in the game with four different 100-yard rushers, while averaging 12.5 yards per pass attempt. The defense held the opposing Golden Lions to just 173 total yards, with only 12 on the ground.
Rankings and records: Auburn did not receive a vote in either poll. Arkansas State received three votes in the Coaches Poll. The two teams have played twice, with the Tigers winning 27-0 in 2006 and 52-26 in 2010.
Vegas: Auburn is a 13-point favorite, while the over/under is 62 points. OddsShark has more.
Weather: A high of 84 and party cloudy.
Three names to know
Tre Mason. Auburn's starting running back had 15 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown against Washington State, but ran for over 1,000 yards last season. This will be a game fought on the ground, and Mason will have to do his part for a Tigers win.
Robenson Therezie. Perhaps most impressive about Arkansas State's opening win was its ability to balance its rushing attack with a strong passing game, and that's where Auburn's starting safety comes in. Therezie was named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week after picking off two passes and recording a career-high seven tackles against Washington State.
David Oku. The Arkansas State running back is a former four-star recruit who transferred from Tennessee and was named first team All-Sun Belt last season after running for 1,080 yards and 16 touchdowns. Against Pine Bluff, Oku ran 16 times for 124 yards and two scores, and although the Tigers showed great strength against the Cougars' passing game, the Red Wolves' rushing attack is another test entirely.
Two things at stake
After a dreadful season last year, Auburn would continue its march towards being ranked again with a win here.
Arkansas State would secure a huge victory at the start of the Bryan Harsin era over its former coach.
How to witness
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports Net
Online streaming: WatchESPN
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