The subtitle says pretty much everything that you need to know about today’s game against Arkansas, but we’ll dig a little deeper anyway.
Once again, it’s all about Auburn.
For the seventh straight game, Auburn is in a position to dictate how the day goes. Whether that’s playing well, like they did in wins against Texas A&M and Mississippi State, or playing poorly, like in Gainesville, it’s about what Auburn does and not what Arkansas does.
We’ve had two weeks now to ruminate on the loss to the Gators. Auburn absolutely missed on about three plays against Florida, and those three plays were the difference in the game. Both long touchdowns by Florida were missed tackles, and the interception in the end zone ruined Auburn’s best drive and took the wind out of the sails. You could argue that had only one or two of those plays go the other way, Auburn wins.
But that’s in the past. What’s important to know is that we were very close to beating a top ten team on the road when they were absolutely juiced. If things go the way we think they can, Auburn has a shot to see the Gators again down the road, but there’s a ton that needs to take place between now and then.
Today, the task is getting better.
Arkansas is... not good. In fact, one answer from our Q&A with Arkansas Fight highlights how today is expected to go.
Opponent Q&A - #11 Auburn @ Arkansas— Get Better Boobee Well-Wisher Account (@CollegeAndMag) October 19, 2019
"Are there any areas where Arkansas has a distinct advantage over Auburn?"
The summary of our talk with @ArkansasFight ahead of tomorrow’s game. https://t.co/DDB69cOyrH pic.twitter.com/C1Z0iDe3Z7
They don’t think they’re very good either. They know that after a loss to San Jose State and a slim touchdown win over Portland State. Arkansas doesn’t really have any weapons, and they don’t have much ability to stop what opposing offenses want to do.
Again, this game is all about Auburn. Did the Tigers come out of the open date focused after having a good couple of weeks of work (hard work)? Did they get a little soft? We’ll see today. One thing’s for certain — we have some things to figure out today.
First, Boobee Whitlow suffered an injury late in the Florida game and had to get a small procedure done. He’s out likely until the Georgia game. That means that we’ll need to establish someone to turn into our feature back today so that when we go to Baton Rouge, things aren’t terrible.
Next, it’s time to get Bo Nix right. He handled the first hostile environment that he visited, and was very steady in College Station despite the stats not really showing it. Two weeks ago, however, I think the pressure got to him. It was evident that he was rattled, and the three interceptions were just bad throws. He’ll be the first to tell you that.
Third, we need this offensive line to sizzle. They struggled mightily in Gainesville, but that might be the best defensive front we’ll face. Today’s the best medicine possible for an offensive line looking to improve. Get into a rhythm today and go into LSU on fire.
Gus Malzahn has had a fantastic history against Arkansas, as well. He’s 5-1 as head coach at Auburn, and I think he takes beating the home state team to heart. Of those five wins, they’ve come by 18, 24, 53, 32, and 31 points. This isn’t a team that we’re going to take lightly, despite the fact that they’re not very good. There’s much at stake for Auburn in regard to improving this weekend, and the fact that the Florida loss has had to sit in the team’s stomach for two weeks is a good thing for us now. Bad for the Hogs.
Today’s also a chance to guarantee a postseason. Auburn has only been bowl eligible after seven games twice under Gus, and that came in 2013 and 2014, when the Tigers started 6-1. Win today, and we’re going to a bowl. It’s likely that Auburn will get to eight wins minimum since they’ve got games left against Ole Miss and Samford after this, but the other three games come against top ten teams. That’s also part of why today is important. If Auburn finishes 8-4, it’ll be disappointing but not totally unexpected with what’s left on the schedule. Basically, we have to have today. Under this staff, I’m not worried.
It’s all about Auburn. Let’s just see the fruits of the investment from the past two weeks. War Eagle!