So, remember that time we pretty much all thought Gus Malzahn was gonna get fired? Times certainly are a changin’ and the Tigers are No. 21 in the country with a 4-2 record. But the only win against a Top 25 team came against LSU and it was fractions of a second away from being a loss. So Malzahn & Co. need a statement win to solidify that everything is fine on the plains and he’s the right guy for the job as his seat gets progressively cooler. A win over Arkansas coupled with a Texas A&M loss to Alabama would put the Tigers in second place in the SEC West halfway through the conference slate.
No. 17 Arkansas is 5-2 after pulling out a win over Ole Miss in which a fourth down stop was needed (surprise). For the fourth conference game in a row, the Hogs are underdogs, and they’re only 1-2 in the SEC. This is the back end of a run of six pretty tough conference clashes for Arkansas. After this road tilt, they host Florida and LSU in consecutive weeks. But a look-ahead here and Auburn’s continually improving offense will make winning the division pretty much impossible (it’s already extremely unlikely) and perhaps even add a bit of heat to Bret Bielema’s seat if this loss in a newer rivalry is particularly damning.
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: 6 p.m. ET, ESPN. The broadcasters are Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe.
Online streaming: WatchESPN.
Spread: The Tigers are a nine-point favorite.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation's team blog chats for this game at College and Magnolia (for Auburn fans) and Arkansas Fight (for Arkansas fans).
Three big things to know
- QB Austin Allen has multiple touchdowns in every game he’s played this season, a first for a freshman in SEC history. Auburn’s pass defense is No. 30 in the country, In conference games this season, he’s thrown the ball 30 times or more each time out. The Hogs aren’t scared to air it out, but can the Tigers stop it?
- Auburn’s offense may not be world-beaters, but No. 30 in total offense is a far cry from where they were last season (94th). The Tigers succeed like all good Gus Malzahn offenses do: running the ball. Auburn is No. 12 nationally in rushing yards per game. On the flipside, Arkansas is 80th in the nation in rushing defense. Texas A&M racked up a whopping 9.9 yards per carry average on the Hogs, and last week Ole Miss tallied a "modest" 4.8 (which is still deadly).
- Sean White hasn’t been great, but there’s no QB controversy anymore because he hasn’t been bad this season either. White hasn’t topped 300 yards yet this season, but he also hasn’t thrown more than 27 times all year. He isn’t being asked to do a ton, and if he can just steer the ship then Auburn’s ground game should be able to do the requisite amount of work needed to get the job done.