If Arkansas is going to salvage a once-promising season, the Razorbacks need to win against host Auburn in a pivotal Southeastern Conference game on Saturday in Alabama.
Both Arkansas (4-3, 1-3 SEC) and Auburn (3-4, 1-3) are coming off bye weeks. Each team last played on Oct. 15, with the Razorbacks getting a 52-35 road win over BYU — which snapped a three-game slide — and Auburn losing 48-34 at then-ranked No. 9 Ole Miss.
The Razorbacks have made strides under third-year coach Sam Pittman, who guided Arkansas to a 9-4 mark last year. The Razorbacks won 11 games the previous four seasons combined.
Arkansas, however, has dropped six straight meetings against the Tigers. If Arkansas is going to make a move in the SEC West, it starts with winning at Auburn for the first time since 2012.
“I think we are ready to try and make a run and we talk about it a lot,” Pittman said. “Of course, you have to win the next one to get on a run. I like where our team is and I think this is a big test for us.”
Arkansas will rely heavily on dual-threat quarterback KJ Jefferson, just as it has all season.
He’s completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 1,463 yards with 14 touchdowns and just one interception. He’s also rushed for 344 yards and four scores on 91 carries, which are all second on the Razorbacks behind Raheim Sanders (140 carries, 870 yards, seven TDs).
“KJ, now he’s different,” Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “He’s really big, really physical. I think he plays with a lot of poise.”
Auburn has dropped four of its past five games and was outscored by then-No. 2 Georgia and Ole Miss by a combined 90-44 its past two games.
The Tigers yield an average of 204.4 rushing yards per game, which ranks 119th nationally. Arkansas is ninth in rushing, averaging 240 yards per game.
Auburn quarterback Robby Ashford has completed just 47.9 percent of his passes for 1,014 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. But he’s second on the team with 310 rushing yards, trailing only Tank Bigsby’s 524 yards and six scores.
Bigsby rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries against Ole Miss.
“Robby has a strong arm but he’s most dangerous when you have the receivers covered downfield,” Pittman said. “Bigsby, probably last week, he showed who he really is. They opened up a lot of holes for him and he made a lot of good runs.”
Auburn has won six straight against Arkansas.
–Field Level Media