Auburn gave Clemson a pretty decent fight in a Week 1 loss. Lots of teams would be quietly delighted about losing a one-score game to the No. 2 team in the country, even if that team's coach did his best to keep it that tight. But Auburn, coming off a 7-6 down year, is not on that list of teams. The Tigers and head coach Gus Malzahn need wins in a hurry.
They're the favorites to get their first of the year this week, when Arkansas State visits Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers are a far more talented team than the Red Wolves, but Arkansas State could be tricky if they get themselves into form. The Red Wolves scored 40 points per game last year, but offensive coordinator Walt Bell departed for Maryland in the offseason, and the team lost 31-10 against Toledo last week. Those Red Wolves won't be much of a threat to Auburn.
Malzahn is used to coaching really good offenses, but his defense was far superior against Clemson. The Tigers used three quarterbacks that night, an approach Malzahn is now abandoning. We offered at least one alternative, though it's not likely Malzahn will be able to take us up on it.
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: SEC Network, 7:30 p.m. ET. The broadcasters are Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Jesse Palmer (analyst) and Jeannine Edwards (sideline).
Online streaming WatchESPN
Spread: Auburn opened as a 13-point favorite, and that line's grown.
Three big things to watch
1. Can Sean White hold Auburn's QB job? White started the opener, but he wasn't great, and Malzahn eventually gave snaps to John Franklin III and Jeremy Johnson. White's apparently the guy this week, but the Tigers are looking for better than 10 of 21 for 141 yards with an interception. (Granted, Clemson's Clemson.)
2. Will the Red Wolves look like themselves? This has quietly been one of the sport's more enjoyable offenses over the past few years, but Toledo completely shuttered the ASU attack. The Red Wolves gained 266 total yards and only scored 10 points against a defense not nearly Auburn's equal. If there's not major improvement here, this won't be close. The Red Wolves have a quarterback, in Pitt transfer Chad Voytik, who's at least used to seeing Power 5 opposition.
3. Can Malzahn cool down a warming seat? Auburn's coach likely needs a good year to keep his job. This doesn't feel like a game the Tigers could lose, but Arkansas State is potentially explosive, and Malzahn would be well served to win comfortably. Auburn plays Texas A&M and LSU the next two weeks, so a big win would be awfully helpful.