This is not a team I usually write about, but I just couldn’t resist weighing in on this game. I know the Auburn Tigers are ranked a little below the Arkansas Razorbacks, but they’re going to beat them anyways. Plain and simple: Auburn is a more balanced team than Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks.
Before I get to pump up those Tigers, let me smack down these Razorbacks just a little bit.
Remember their first game of the season this year? I do. It was almost a borderline erotic upset win—for the other team. Arkansas hosted the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and only won by a single point. The Razorbacks were a 21.5-point favorite heading into that game and they beat the Bulldogs 21-20. That’s just plain embarrassing.
Speaking of embarrassing games, Arkansas got absolutely whooped by the Texas A&M Aggies almost a month ago now. I don’t care if they’ve proven to be a good team this year and they have the 12th Man, that’s just inexcusable. The 19-point loss at home against the Alabama Crimson Tide is far more excusable than that.
Really, the only thing the Razorbacks have going for them is their win over the Ole Miss Rebels last weekend. No, the double-overtime win over the TCU Horned Frogs is not that impressive. TCU is overrated once again. But somehow the Razorbacks are still ranked ahead of the Tigers. I just don’t understand.
Maybe the Razorbacks had more preseason optimism surrounding the team than the Tigers did, but the preseason is long gone now. What matters is what these teams have actually done on the football field so far. And Auburn definitely has the edge there.
Auburn has two losses this year: a 6-point loss to the Clemson Tigers and a 13-point loss to the Texas A&M Aggies. It’s worth noting that Auburn’s loss to the Aggies was less severe than that of Arkansas. And having a 6-point loss against a team that went to the National Championship Game last year is nothing to be ashamed of either.
If you’re like me and you need numbers to justify this clear advantage I say that the Tigers have, then you’ll love this part.
Arkansas has allowed 398.9 yards per game and 27.9 points per game. Auburn has allowed 346.8 yards per game and 16 points per game. The gap there undeniably favors Auburn’s defense. If you swear by ESPN’s statistical analyses then you’ll enjoy knowing that the Tigers are 13th in defensive efficiency while the Razorbacks are 60th.
Although Auburn has the advantage defensively, the two teams are pretty evenly matched offensively. They’re also pretty evenly matched as far as special teams go.
The difference here really does come from the defense. With a stronger defense and the home field advantage at Jordan-Hare Stadium, you’d be crazy to think that Auburn doesn’t have the upper hand.
Heck, even ESPN’s FPI gives Auburn an 84.7% chance of winning this game. Considering the Razorbacks are ranked no. 17 and the Tigers are ranked no. 21, I’d say that kind of margin is a pretty good sign for the Tigers.
And if you really want to get ugly about it, let me just remind you that the Arkansas head coach, Bret Bielema, looks like he ate Auburn’s head coach, Gus Malzahn. Low blow? Maybe. But come on, the Tigers are clearly more fit to win this game when you take everything into account. Plus Coach Malzahn can actually move around the sidelines with his team as they put points on the board over this unimpressive Razorback defense. You can’t beat that!
So let me leave you with two of the most recognizable words in all of college football: WAR EAGLE.
You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.
Photo courtesy of Organizedchaos02 on Wikimedia Commons.