Preview capsule: No. 8 Auburn at Arkansas - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Preview capsule: No. 8 Auburn at Arkansas

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Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, left, and Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen, right. (AP Photos/Butch Dill) Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, left, and Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen, right. (AP Photos/Butch Dill)

Matchup:  No. 8 Auburn (7-1, 3-1 SEC) at Arkansas (3-5, 0-4)

Time:  5 p.m. (CST)


Line: Auburn by 8 ½.

Last Meeting:  Oct. 6, 2012 -- Arkansas 24, Auburn 7 (Auburn, Ala.)

Series Record: Auburn 11-10-1.


After last season's 3-9 record, little was expected of Auburn this season under first-year coach Gus Malzahn. The Tigers, however, have excelled behind junior-college transfer quarterback Nick Marshall — with two wins over ranked opponents (Ole Miss and Texas A&M). Malzahn returns to his home state looking for a win over a struggling Arkansas team that's lost five straight. The Razorbacks hope to keep their faint bowl hopes alive with a win.


Auburn's running game vs. Arkansas' defense. The Tigers lead the Southeastern Conference in rushing this season, averaging 315.4 yards per game on the ground. They've done so behind a variety of options in Malzahn's hurry-up, spread system, with four players (Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne, Marshall and Corey Grant) averaging more than 50 yards rushing per game. The Razorbacks allow 172 yards rushing per game for the season, but that number has risen to 251.5 yards per game in four SEC games.


Auburn: Marshall. The junior, who has accounted for 1,609 yards of total offense, missed most of last week's 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic after injuring his shoulder in the first quarter. Malzahn said Marshall is a game-time decision, and if he does play, he figures to give Arkansas' defense fits.

Arkansas: RB Alex Collins. The talented freshman has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Razorbacks, ranking third in the SEC in rushing with an average of 99.6 yards per game. Collins had 77 yards rushing on 18 carries two weeks ago against No. 1 Alabama, and Arkansas will need more of the same if it hopes to overcome a passing game that's last in the SEC (146.6 yards per game).


Malzahn, a former Arkansas offensive coordinator and high school coach in his native state, is 1-3 against the Razorbacks since leaving the school following the 2006 season ... Those games were all as an assistant, with Saturday marking Malzahn's first game against Arkansas as a head coach ... The Razorbacks' five-game losing streak is the longest of Bielema's eight-year coaching career, including seven seasons at Wisconsin ... The game is Arkansas' fifth straight against a ranked opponent.


W-L 7-1 3-5
Avg Points 37.0 20.4
Avg Points Allowed 20.5 30.6
Home Record 6-0 3-2
Road Record 1-1 0-3
Division Record 3-1 0-2
Conference Record 3-1 0-4

Passing Leaders

N. Marshall 57.6 1148 6 4
J. Johnson 69.2 393 6 2
B. Allen 44.9 955 8 7
A. Derby 52.9 173 1 0

Rushing Leaders

T. Mason 129 753 5.8 9
C. Artis-Payne 72 510 7.1 5
A. Collins 141 797 5.7 4
J. Williams 100 612 6.1 4

Receiving Leaders

S. Coates 21 536 25.5 4
Q. Bray 16 172 10.8 3
J. Herndon 20 330 16.5 4
H. Henry 17 318 18.7 1