- Associated Press - Thursday, August 28, 2014

ARKANSAS (0-0, 0-0 SEC) at No. 6 AUBURN (0-0, 0-0), 4 p.m. (SEC Network)

Line: Auburn by 20 ½.

Series Record: Auburn leads 12-10-1.


The Tigers could make a statement to start defense of their SEC championship. For Arkansas, it’s a golden opportunity to demonstrate improvement after a miserable first season under coach Bret Bielema. Also, the two coaches have sparred over everything from the hurry-up offense to game tape Auburn sent before the 2013 meeting.


Arkansas running backs versus Auburn defense. The Razorbacks have an impressive tailback trio in Jonathan Williams, Korliss Marshall and 1,000-yard rusher Alex Collins. The Tigers are deep at defensive tackle and this will be a test for a defense that allowed 162 rushing yards last season, 62nd nationally.


Arkansas: QB Brandon Allen. Hampered by a shoulder injury most of last season, a healthy and improved Allen could be a huge factor in the Razorbacks’ hopes for a rebound. He’ll need to challenge Auburn’s secondary at times to keep the defense from loading up against the run.

Auburn: QBs Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson. Marshall won’t start the game after getting ticketed for marijuana possession during that summer. How long the much bigger Johnson will play before the preseason All-SEC pick gets into the game - and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says he will - is a mystery.


Both teams have a wealth of returning rushing yards. Auburn, which became the first SEC team to field the nation’s top ground game, leads the country with returning players who accounted for 2,697 rushing yards. Arkansas is third with 2,288, with fellow SEC West team Alabama (2,641) in between. … Only Arkansas and Wisconsin have two 900-yard rushers returning, Collins and Williams. … Auburn and Arkansas are deadlocked 5-5-1 in meetings at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The average margin in the first 23 games is 0.5 points (554-542) in favor of Arkansas. … Malzahn was the Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator in 2006 and started his college career as an Arkansas wide receiver.

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