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September 30, 2012

The Hangover, Part IV: Scouting Arkansas

Who: Arkansas (1-4, 0-2 SEC) at Auburn (1-3, 0-2)

When: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET

Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451) | Auburn, Ala.

TV: ESPN/ESPN2

Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network (WVRK-FM 102.9 in Columbus)

Line: Auburn by -9.5

What to know about the Razorbacks: When you have people outwardly wondering where this team’s collapse ranks among the all-time preseason top-10 flops, that’s not a good thing … Bobby Petrino’s ouster for knowingly misleading school officials about a motorcycle and affair with an athletic department employee led to John L. Smith being asked to lead the team on an interim basis … nothing has gone right for Smith, on or off the field. Bankruptcy, the death of his brother and multiple bizarre press appearances have been salt in the wound of seeing his team falter from a preseason No. 8 ranking to four consecutive losses, including SEC tramplings by a combined 110-10 to Alabama and Texas A&M … the Razorbacks’ total defense (510.2 yards per game) ranks 120th nationally … Arkansas did not have a sack or takeaway in getting throttled by the Crimson Tide and Aggies … quarterback Tyler Wilson, after calling out his teammates for quitting in the Alabama demolition, is actually third among SEC quarterbacks with 1,355 passing yards despite sitting out that Alabama game. With just a 54.5 completion percentage, though, Wilson is the league’s eighth-rated passer.

When last they met: Arkansas 38, Auburn 14, Oct. 8, 2011 in Fayetteville … It was a simpler time, it was a happier time for these traditionally strong programs, both ranked inside the top 15 one year ago at this time. Wilson threw for 262 yards and a pair of scores, and had no such accuracy issues last October completing 19 consecutive passes. Arkansas’ defense took care of the rest, shutting out Michael Dyer (21 carries, 112 yards, TD) in the final three quarters. Kiehl Frazier’s 7-yard TD in his homecoming briefly gave Auburn – which was 4-1 and ranked No. 15 entering the game – a 14-7 lead, but Wilson responded with his own rush TD and the Razorbacks rolled from there.

All-time series: Auburn leads 11-9-1, with the teams splitting their last ten meetings down the middle. The Tigers hold a slight 5-4-1 advantage at Jordan-Hare Stadium (they tied 24-all on Halloween 1992.) The longest winning streak in the series is three, belonging to Auburn from 2003-05. This is the 19th meeting out of 22 taking place in October.

Which Auburn Tiger is licking his chops: Quarterback Kiehl Frazier. You read correctly. Did you see what Johnny Manziel did to the Razorbacks on Saturday? If Frazier has any confidence left in that talented husk of his, he looks at this as an opportunity to kick-start his young quarterbacking career.

Who’s keeping the Auburn coaches up at night: Wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, who did go off for 303 receiving yards against Rutgers. His 118.2 yards a game check in at ninth in the country. Big test for either junior Chris Davis or sophomore Jonathon Mincy, in all likelihood, unless Auburn throws a bevy of cover 2 at Wilson.

Extra point: Both of these teams have played in a bowl three consecutive seasons (certainly a point of pride for the seniors), and while Arkansas has gone bowling 11 of the last 14 years, Auburn’s been there 11 of the past 12. No matter what, the loser of this game is in serious peril of a foreign position: sitting at home in December (though you could argue Arkansas is already there.)

-AB

1 Comment

  1. This might not be the cakewalk some are predicting. There’s a whole lot of talent on the Arkansas team. If the players themselves decide to pull it together they can be dangerous regardless of the quality of coaching they’re receiving.

    Comment by MikeP — October 1, 2012 @ 8:58 am

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