1. Slow Auburn’s Run
Gus Malzahn’s offense is rolling with a ground game ranked fifth in the nation (315.4 yards a game). The Tigers have rushed for 379 yards or more in each of their past three games. Arkansas must find a way to keep the ground game under control.
2. Build Brandon’s Confidence
QB Brandon Allen hasn’t enjoyed any success lately, but Arkansas has put in two weeks of work determined to improve the passing offense. The Razorbacks need to help Allen have early success against a defense allowing 267 passing yards a game.
3. Win Battles Up Front
Arkansas’ power run game will be key to its upset hopes, leading the way for a power run game that must set the tone against the Tigers. The defensive front must perform against a no-huddle offense that will put Arkansas under constant pressure.
4. Reverse Turnover Trend
Arkansas is last in the SEC in turnover margin during conference games (minus-9) and it has played a big role in the struggles. The offense has turned the ball over 10 times. The defense has one takeaway. The trend must change for Arkansas to win.
5. Make Special Plays
A struggling offense could use some help and special teams is an area that could provide a lift. The problem: Arkansas hasn’t done much in the return game this season. Expect D’Arthur Cowan to get a shot to make an impact as a returner.
TODAY’S KEY MATCHUP
Arkansas LB Jarrett Lake (6-3, 235, Sr.)
Key Statistics: 52 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
Lake and the Arkansas defense face a big test against the SEC’s top-ranked rushing offense, which is led by junior Tre Mason. Lake — who manned the middle linebacker spot the past three games after starting the season on the weak side — is coming off a disappointing performance at Alabama (one tackle). He and the rest of Arkansas’ maligned unit must be much more engaged today against Auburn, which is more than capable of piling up yards and points behind its powerful ground game.
Auburn RB Tre Mason (5-10, 205, Jr.)
Key Statistics: 753 rushing yards, 9 touchdowns
Mason doesn’t have to shoulder the load alone for a rushing offense that has four players over the 400-yard mark. He has been the key weapon, though, leading the team in rushing yards and touchdowns. Mason is ranked fifth in the SEC in rushing yards a game (94.1) and has topped the 100-yard mark three times this season. It included 132- and 178-yard performances against top 10 opponents LSU and Texas A&M, respectively. Mason also has scored a touchdown in five straight games.
EDGE: Auburn RB Tre Mason