Oct 31, 2020; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Auburn Tigers running back Tank Bigsby (4) stiff arms a LSU defender during the third quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

News Articles

No. 23 Auburn takes on visiting Vols

The No. 23 Auburn Tigers will host the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, a week after both were among eight SEC teams that had games postponed due to COVID-19 positive cases.

The Tigers (4-2, 4-2 in SEC), whose trip to Mississippi State has been tentatively rescheduled to Dec. 12, have not played since Oct. 31 when they crushed defending national champion LSU at home, 48-11.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn told reporters he did not know exactly how many of the 10 players who tested positive or were quarantined due to contact tracing would be available against Tennessee. He later acknowledged that at least some would miss the game, but he declined to go into specifics.

The Volunteers (2-4, 2-4) started the season with back-to-back victories, but have lost four consecutive games, and had last week’s game against Texas A&M postponed until Dec. 12 after the Aggies had positive cases.

“Everything changes daily,” Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “There’s lots of unknowns. You just try to adapt and there’s nothing that you can go back and draw from. There’s no history books on COVID, so it’s all for the first time.”

It’s continually frustrating, but consider, too, the frustrations Vols have experienced on offense this season.

Tennessee is averaging only 14.5 points a game during the four-game skid, and for the season ranks second-worst in the SEC in total offense (318.5 yards per game) and yards per play (4.74), and has the worst third-down conversion percentage (27.38).

There’s some question as to who might start at quarterback for the Vols against Auburn.

Freshman Harrison Bailey, who finished Tennessee’s most recent game against Arkansas, could find himself in the game plan this week as he and sophomores Brian Maurer and J.T. Shrout all took plenty of reps in practice while senior starter Jarrett Guarantano (956 yards, six touchdowns, three interceptions) was in concussion protocol last week.

“To me, it seems to be a little more confidence offensively, especially with our younger guys just having a better idea of how to execute at a higher level,” Pruitt said.

Auburn, which has won two in a row and is trying to work its way back up the Top 25, is led by sophomore quarterback Bo Nix and junior receivers Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz. The Tigers average 405.8 yards a game and 5.8 yards a play. Their plus-4 turnover margin ranks third-best in the SEC.

Much of the Tigers’ success can be attributed to an impactful group of freshmen led by running back Tank Bigsby, who is averaging 83.8 rushing yards a game and has five touchdowns. Bigsby’s 503 rushing yards lead all Power 5 conference freshman running backs and he leads all SEC kickoff returners with 306 return yards.

“It’s probably the most we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Malzahn said of his freshmen of influence. “First of all, what stands out to me about the class is they have a lot of character. High-character guys. It’s a very talented group. It’s a great combination.”

Tennessee has had some bright spots on defense.

Senior linebacker Deandre Johnson’s 4.5 sacks is the second-most in the SEC. Sophomore linebacker Henry To’o To’o is also tied with Auburn freshman linebacker Colby Wooden for the most tackles for loss (7) in the SEC.

The Tigers’ defense is led by freshman end ZyKeivous Walker, junior linebacker Zakoby McClain (2.5 sacks) and a secondary ranked third-best in the SEC in passing defense (236.2 yards per game) and second-fewest in TD passes allowed (9).

“One thing that I will say about all of us, we have a mindset that we’re going to leave no doubt,” Walker said.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

Upcoming Games

Aug 28th, 3:33 PM

Hawaii

UCLA

@

Aug 28th, 3:33 PM

Southern Utah

San Jose State (24)

@

Aug 28th, 3:33 PM

Nebraska

Illinois

@

Aug 28th, 3:33 PM

UCONN

Fresno State

@

Aug 28th, 3:33 PM

UTEP

New Mexico State

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

Jacksonville State

UAB

@

Sep 2nd, 12:00 PM

East Carolina

Appalachian State

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

LIU

Florida International (FIU)

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Weber State

Utah

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Southern Utah

Arizona State

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Western Illinois

Ball State (23)

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

North Carolina (18)

Virginia Tech

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

USF

NC State

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

UC Davis

Tulsa

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Ohio State (2)

Minnesota

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Houston Baptist

New Mexico

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Eastern Washington

UNLV

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Northern Colorado

Colorado

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

St. Francis-PA

Eastern Michigan

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Old Dominion

Wake Forest

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Clemson (3)

Georgia (7)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Duke

Charlotte

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

The Citadel

Coastal Carolina (14)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Florida Atlantic

Florida (13)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Central Michigan

Missouri

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Colgate

Boston College

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Montana

Washington

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Northern Iowa

Iowa State (9)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Louisiana-Monroe

Kentucky

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Bowling Green

Tennessee

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Fresno State

Oregon

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Eastern Illinois

South Carolina

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Army

Georgia State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

East Tennessee State

Vanderbilt

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Kansas State

Stanford

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Kent State

Texas A&M (4)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Akron

Auburn

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Utah State

Washington State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Southern University

Troy

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Rice

Arkansas

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

NIU

Georgia Tech

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Nevada

California

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Missouri State

Oklahoma State (20)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

LA Tech

Mississippi State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Monmouth-New Jersey

Middle Tennessee

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

San Jose State (24)

USC (21)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Southern Miss

South Alabama

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Northwestern State

North Texas

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Louisiana-Lafayette (15)

Texas (19)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Wagner

Buffalo (25)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Baylor

Texas State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Syracuse

Ohio

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Alabama (1)

Miami-FL (22)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Duquesne

TCU

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Central Arkansas

Arkansas State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Norfolk State

Toledo

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

LSU

UCLA

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Arizona

BYU (11)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Bethune-Cookman

UTEP

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Campbell

Liberty (17)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Tennessee-Martin

WKU

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Miami-OH

Cincinnati (8)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Holy Cross

UCONN

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Houston

Texas Tech

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Nicholls State

Memphis

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Massachusetts

Pittsburgh

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Boise State

UCF

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

William & Mary

Virginia

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

South Dakota

Kansas

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Abilene Christian

SMU

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Marshall

Navy

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Oklahoma (6)

Tulane

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

UTSA

Illinois

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

New Mexico State

San Diego State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Portland State

Hawaii

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Indiana (12)

Iowa (16)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

West Virginia

Maryland

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Western Michigan

Michigan

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Michigan State

Northwestern (10)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Lafayette

Air Force

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Montana State

Wyoming

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Oregon State

Purdue

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Temple

Rutgers

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Penn State

Wisconsin

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

South Dakota State

Colorado State

@

Sep 4th, 6:00 PM

Gardner-Webb

Georgia Southern

@