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College football preview: Arkansas Razorbacks vs Auburn Tigers

Nick Marshall won't start but he will be there to finish
Nick Marshall won't start but he will be there to finish
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The unranked Arkansas Razorbacks being SEC play in dramatic fashion on Saturday. They take on the No. 6 Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium. In 2013, the home field for the Auburn Tigers was simply magical, and they expect nothing less than a dominant season in 2014. Auburn’s regular starter, Nick Marshall will start the game on the bench but he will be a factor before the clock strikes zero.

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Auburn Tigers
When: Saturday Aug. 30. 4:00 p.m.
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium
TV: SEC Network

The Auburn Tigers are fresh off of a SEC title and National championship run that came up a couple of plays short. Now they are in year two of the Gus Malzahn experience and it should be worrisome for all of their SEC opponents. For the season, it will be all about Nick Marshall, but on Saturday, the ball will be in the hands of Jeremy Johnson to start the game.

Arkansas has quite a bit of drama entering their first road game. Starting quarterback Brandon Allen woke up to his truck set ablaze earlier in the week, and it seems like a bad omen to what could be a promising season. Now Allen has to block all the negative thoughts and get back to playing solid football.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Offensively, the Razorbacks will look to run the ball right at the Auburn defense. If they are able to sustain a ground game and control the clock, Arkansas just might have a chance. The Razorbacks can’t afford turnovers against an offense as potent as Auburn’s, so that will be a major key to keep an eye on.

There will also be pass plays available for Brandon Allen to make. Arkansas can’t miss opportunities when they arise. It doesn’t seem like they are the type of team to rise above mental mistakes yet.

Defensively, it’s all about being in the right position for Arkansas. Part of Auburn’s mystique is keeping the opponent off balanced and out of position. Also, it’s imperative that Arkansas wins first down. If they are able to force passing situations, the Razorbacks can stay in the game. Finally, Arkansas must limit big plays.

Auburn Tigers

Jeremy Johnson will get the start for Auburn at quarterback, but Nick Marshall should be a factor in this game before it’s over. Auburn was weak in the passing game last season, so it’s going to be interesting to see how much they progressed during the off season. Auburn will play fast, and it’s enough to make an opponents head spin. Despite their perceived offensive concepts, Auburn is a power running team.

Defensively, the Tigers should be stout against the run. They’ll have to be against the Arkansas ground game. They won’t need to force turnovers to win, but if they do, it’s almost certain victory for Auburn on Saturday. As a whole, the defense really came together down the stretch. With some new pieces inserted, Auburn’s defense must continue to rise up and play tough.

The Verdict

There’s no way Auburn should lose this game. The offense will be scary good, and that should be good enough in a lot of games. If Arkansas is to pull off the upset, they will have a tremendous rushing attack, sprinkled in with some big plays in the passing game.

Auburn 48
Arkansas 24