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Samford’s ability to move the ball against a Florida State defense that ranked among the country’s worst last year, giving up an average of 30 points and 435 yards. Florida State will try to establish its run game with TBs Jermaine Thomas and Chris Thompson to take pressure off QB Christian Ponder, who lost several of his leading receivers from last year’s team. Fisher wants his offense to control the clock with first downs and a good ground game.

Players to Watch

Samford: Chris Evans, the school’s career rushing leader. Florida State’s defense couldn’t stop much of anything last season and Seminoles fans are looking to see what improvements have been made under new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. Evans is the first test.

Florida State: Ponder, who is being promoted by the school as a Heisman Trophy candidate, and sophomore return specialist and CB Greg Reid, who led the nation in punt returns a year ago and is now a starter in the secondary. Reid returned one of his two interceptions last year for a touchdown at BYU.

Facts & Figures

The game marks the first time since Sept. 11, 1976, that Bobby Bowden won’t be Florida State’s head coach. Bowden, who will not attend the game, was Samford’s QB in 1950 when the Bulldogs (then known as Howard College) played the Seminoles in the only prior meeting of the two schools. Fisher also is a Samford alum. He was QB in 1987 and spent another five years on the Samford staff as an assistant under Bowden’s son Terry, and later served as an assistant to the younger Bowden at Auburn … Temperatures in the low 90s are expected for kickoff.

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Arkansas State (0-0) at No. 22 Auburn (0-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

Line: Auburn by 31.

Series Record: Auburn leads 1-0.

Last Meeting: Nov. 4, 2006, Auburn 27-0.

What’s at Stake

Auburn would love solid performances from new starters QB Cam Newton and RB Mario Fannin and, if possible, to get some young players game experience.

Key Matchup

Gus Malzahn’s quick-strike Auburn offense against an Arkansas State defense that has ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the Sun Belt in total defense four years running.

Story Continues →