Auburn travels to play Arkansas Saturday night at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. To get a little more insight on the Hogs, we swapped questions and answers with Trent Wooldridge, who writes for SB Nation's Razorbacks affiliate, Arkansas Fight. For our answers to Trent's questions, click here.
College and Magnolia: How did Arkansas fans react to the Bret Bielema hire, and how do they feel about it now? Is the rough start this year hurting him, or do most fans realize he's in Year 1 of a rebuilding project?
Trent Wooldridge: Reaction to the hire was positive for the most part, although there were pockets of fans that refused to be happy about anything short of rehiring Bobby Petrino. And of course the certifiable faction who believed Jon Gruden was coming. Seriously. Gruden.
The fans have mostly stayed supportive, but the last month has definitely strained things. Allowing 104 consecutive points has a way of causing one to drink their rationality into submission. It's been vodka for me, mainly.
CaM: Bielema is nothing if not entertaining, providing plenty of boisterous talk. Does that endear him to Arkansas fans, or does it alienate him?
TW: Some love it, some hate it and others sit on the fence and allow the situation to dictate their opinion. Bielema has certainly drawn some criticism over FilmGate, but I think it's pretty funny and don't think he was in the wrong. That said, he might want to win at least one SEC conference game in his career before calling out any other head coaches, unless he wants to get stuck rooming with Mullen at the annual retreat.
CaM: Auburn fans seem to have pretty strong hate for Arkansas, and Razorbacks fans appear to share the sentiment for Auburn. This is sort of surprising, considering the relative lack of history between the schools. What's your best explanation?
TW: Arkansas fans dislike Auburn because the Tigers "took" Gus, Lee Ziemba, Kodi Burns, Michael Dyer, etc. And because Cam. I mean, most everyone hates y'all because of Cam. Y'all know that, and embrace it, and I respect that. And to be fair, though I very much dislike Auburn as a program, there is not one single Auburn fan I have met that I did not like on an individual basis.
Now, as to why Auburn fans don't like Arkansas? My guess would be that it stems from the Hogs having more success against Auburn than Tiger fans think Arkansas deserves.
CaM: Alex Collins has been great, but do you thin Arkansas can compete if Auburn bottles him up? Do you think he can have a big game even if the Tigers consistently stack the box?
TW: The Hogs cannot win without production from the backfield. This means Collins, although Jonathan Williams is a big play guy that you can't overlook.
I don't see Collins going for anything outrageous running against eight or nine in the box all day, but 70 or 80 hard-earned yards is a definite possibility. His best run will likely be one that he gets seven on when he should have been dropped for a loss.
CaM: How do you think defensive coordinator Chris Ash will try to slow down Auburn's offense? Do you think he'll have success?
TW: I have absolutely no idea how Ash is game-planning for the HUNH. Tackling Auburn ball carriers in space is a terrifying proposition, but the Hogs do have some speed on the perimeter to utilize. The formula that has previously worked has been to keep the quarterback in front of the defense and limit pressure in order to shut down the screen/draw/misdirection game.
Not sure the Hogs have that option this week. Nick Marshall isn't Chris Todd.
Will the Hogs' defense have success? They've given up 104 points in two games and Gus Malzahn is coming into town for his first game as a head coach in his home state. I am skeptical of success, to say the least.
CaM: Arkansas has a history of giving Auburn problems. Do you think the Razorbacks will have a chance to pull off the upset, or will it be a one-sided game for the Tigers? Care to offer a final score prediction?
TW: Most of the upsets Arkansas has over Auburn have come at Jordan-Hare and not in Fayetteville, but there's always a chance. Arkansas played with A&M into the fourth quarter at home, so that gives cause for some meager optimism.
In the end, I can't pick Arkansas to win until I see them put together a complete game. Haven't seen one yet this season. Auburn wins, 38-27, but if course I would love to be wrong.
Thanks for having me, and Woo Pig Sooie!
More from College and Magnolia:
- Breaking down the 'swinging gate'
- Wednesdays with (Oscar) Whiskey: Ready for anything
- College football viewing guide: Week 10
- Auburn vs. Arkansas: TV schedule, key players and more
- Auburn Tigers in the NFL: Week 8