FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No. 11 Auburn had an extra week to think about its first loss of the season and must avoid looking ahead to another matchup against a ranked team when the Tigers visit last-place Arkansas for an SEC contest Saturday night. Auburn won its first five games before suffering a 24-13 setback at ninth-ranked Florida on Oct. 5, but the Tigers won't look past the Razorbacks to their showdown with LSU next week.
TV: Noon ET, SEC Network. LINE: Auburn -19
"You can't take anything for granted," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn told reporters. "We're expecting (Arkansas) to play hard and do what they've been doing. They're close, they're continuing to fight. It's about us playing good football, that's really the message that I've been having with our team. … It's a challenge anytime you go on the road in this league." The Tigers will have to do it without star sophomore running back JaTarvious Whitlow (544 yards, seven touchdowns rushing), who is expected to miss 4-6 weeks due to a knee injury. The Razorbacks, who boast the league's leading rusher in junior Rakeem Boyd (617 yards), are winless in three SEC games and have dropped their last three contests overall by a combined 15 points after a 24-20 loss at Kentucky last weekend. "We keep putting ourselves in position to win games and we're not stringing things together to finish it, and that's our job as coaches," Arkansas coach Chad Morris told reporters. "We've got to get our guys to do a better job of executing, making things clearer for guys, so they can just go and play and be able to execute in those key moments."
ABOUT AUBURN (5-1, 2-1 SEC)
Senior Kam Martin (174 rushing yards), sophomores Shaun Shivers (144) and Malik Miller, along with freshmen Harold Joiner and D.J. Williams, will battle for playing time with Whitlow out. "They're all ready to get going," senior receiver Will Hastings told al.com. "They have that fire in their gut to say, ‘I'm next man up,' and make plays to do what they need to do to win the game. So, it's exciting watching them all fight for that job." Freshman quarterback Bo Nix suffered his first three interceptions in five games while completing just 11-of-27 passes for 145 yards against Florida as the offense sputtered, and sophomore Seth Williams (21 receptions, 368 yards overall) is his top target.
ABOUT ARKANSAS (2-4, 0-3)
Boyd is nursing a sore shoulder but averages 5.8 yards per carry, boasts five touchdowns on the ground and Morris told reporters: "He's running the ball as effective as anybody in the conference. His toughness level speaks for himself." Morris told reporters he could use both junior Nick Starkel (1,060 passing yards, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions) and senior Ben Hicks (510, one TD pass), who was 5-of-8 for 81 yards against Kentucky, at quarterback this week. Freshman Trey Knox (23 catches, 323 yards, two TDs), sophomore Mike Woods (24, 319, two) and senior tight end Cheyenne O'Grady (22, 287, one) give the Razorbacks three dependable receivers to go to.
1. Arkansas junior DB Kamren Curl tops the teams with 44 tackles while adding two sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery for a score.
2. Senior DB Jeremiah Dinson leads Auburn with 43 tackles to go along with two sacks and the team's only interception.
3. The Tigers lead the all-time series 16-11-1 after winning each of the last three meetings, including a 34-3 triumph in 2018.
PREDICTION: Auburn 38, Arkansas 21