Two programs that are licking their wounds for different reasons face each other in this battle between 4-2 SEC teams.
Auburn (1-1 in SEC play) got worked pretty hard at home against Georgia, getting crunched 34-10, where the best thing you could say about that game is they gave the Bulldogs both their first deficit of the season (3-0 in the first quarter) and scored just the second touchdown against that nasty UGA defense.
Meanwhile, Arkansas (1-2 in SEC play) was stuck in a track meet. The Hogs went to Ole Miss and scored at will against that flimsy Rebel defense. The only problem? The Razorbacks' defense was no better, giving up 611 yards and allowing 52 points. Oh, and there was that whole missed two-point conversion that cost them the game on the last play of the day. Still, helluva effort from the Pigs as they very nearly won that epic heavyweight battle.
Which team rebounds here in HogTown? It should be a fun one too.
Auburn at No. 17 Arkansas
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 16 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Arkansas -3.5
When Auburn Has the Ball
Seems like you never know what you're going to get with Bo Nix. He can be wildly effective and also have his time of struggles. Of course, against Georgia, he wasn't his best, going 21-for-38 for 217 yards. Then again, NOBODY is at their best against those Dogs. But take away that cakewalk against Akron and he's only completing 52 percent of his passes. The coaches want him to stick in the pocket and go through his reads, instead of turning into a whirling dervish and scramble for his life. Arkansas doesn't have a sack in its last two games, so we'll see where the comfort level is for Nix.
Where did the Auburn ground attack go? Against Georgia, Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter ran for just 28 and 18 yards, respectively. Head coach Bryan Harsin intimated that he was just going to run the ball right at that Bulldog defense, yet they only managed 40 total yards on the ground. Another big key was the Bulldogs' ability to contain Buddy Nix on his now-legendary scrambles. If the Plainsmen are going to assert themselves this week, success in the ground game will be paramount. And that leads me to this…
Through the first four games of the season, the Razorback defense was 10th in the country, allowing just 14.5 points per game. And then they lost their mojo. They've given up 89 combined points in the last two games. And the most surprising thing was getting dinged by the running game. Georgia and Ole Miss gained 273 and 350 yards on the ground, respectively.
When Arkansas Has the Ball
As usual with the Razorbacks, it is all about the forward push that the offensive line can establish. Head coach Sam Pittman likes the big uglies up front to clear some lanes and get KJ Jefferson and that stable of running backs to 5-6-7-yard you to death. Hog fans had to really appreciate the emergence of Raheim Sanders, a 6'2", 225-pound freshman, who got 17 carries against Ole Miss, toting it for 139 yards. He was a great complement to the slashing Trelon Smith, who put up 85 yards on 11 carries. But keep in mind, Auburn has held four of its first six opponents to under 100 rushing yards.
Of course, Jefferson can also showcase that strong arm and cool demeanor as well as his feet. Look for him to continue to target wideout Treylon Burks, who gave us a handful of "You Got Mossed!" moments against Ole Miss while nabbing season highs in catches (seven) and yards (136). It's also good to see the emergence of junior Warren Thompson, who caught four passes for 76 yards, including a 46-yard strike, and also caught the final touchdown of the game before the missed two-pointer decided things.
Both teams do a really good job of taking care of the ball, as the Tigers and Hogs both have suffered just four turnovers in their six games, respectively.
These two teams are capable of making this another track meet if both QBs are on their game here. Offensively, the Tigers average 451 yards per game and the Razorbacks average 459 yards per game. And since neither defense is particularly dominant — and I know the defensive coordinators will hate to hear this — look for another high-scoring contest.
Last year, Auburn rallied for a 30-28 win on Anders Carlson's 39-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the game. This one should be close again as well, but the Hogs exact some revenge.
Prediction: Arkansas 48, Auburn 42
Podcast: Week 7 Preview & Predictions + Picks Against the Spread
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.