Oct 1, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman prior to the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas aims to build momentum in matchup with Auburn

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

Oct 8, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Jonathan Mingo (1) runs up the field with a 71 yard touchdown pass against Vanderbilt Commodores linebacker De'Rickey Wright (43) during the third quarter at FirstBank Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV - USA TODAY Sports

Record-setting Jonathan Mingo, No. 9 Ole Miss host Auburn

Wide receiver Jonathan Mingo was superb last Saturday in leading Ole Miss to a 52-28 victory over Vanderbilt in Nashville.

Mingo will look for another strong performance Saturday when the No. 9 Rebels host struggling Auburn in Southeastern Conference action in Oxford, Miss.

Against the Commodores, Mingo totaled a school-record 247 yards receiving on nine receptions — two for scores — breaking the mark held by former teammate Elijah Moore. Two years ago, Moore established the record, also at Vanderbilt.

The conference’s leading receiver with 507 yards this season, Mingo earned SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors for his play in Ole Miss’ comeback win over Vanderbilt. He shared the award with high school teammate Will Rogers, the quarterback at rival Mississippi State.

“I think that’s really cool for a guy that’s been here a long time and never complains about catches or playing time,” said Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, whose squad outscored Vanderbilt 35-8 over the last 30:21 of game time. “It’s awesome to use those stories (for) guys to understand there’s something to be said for working hard and doing the little things.”

Ole Miss (6-0, 2-0) hasn’t won in the series since its 27-19 road victory in 2015. Its last home win was 41-20 in 2012 — one of the Rebels’ 33 vacated victories from 2010 to 2016. Auburn is 13-2 in Oxford.

Auburn (3-3, 1-2) leads the SEC rivalry 35-10 and has six straight wins, though the 2022 season has been torturous for second-year coach Bryan Harsin, who finds himself parked on the hot seat after every loss.

After suffering a 42-10 thrashing at then-No. 2 Georgia last week, Harsin will need to master the tempo against the Rebels’ fast-break offense.

“For Ole Miss, they go fast — they’re not going to talk about time of possession,” he said. “For us, it’s just about execution and staying on the field. We need to sustain drives.”

Last season’s 31-20 win by then-No. 18 Auburn over No. 10 Ole Miss on Halloween weekend was a high point for the Tigers and a low one for the Rebels.

Both schools owned a 6-2 slate following that game, but Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral get injured. Meanwhile, upon rising to No. 12 in the polls, Auburn lost five straight to close Harsin’s inaugural season.

This year has continued the descent for the Tigers, who have been outscored 77-47 in the second half.

With No. 1 passer T.J. Finley out with a sprain in his throwing shoulder, Robby Ashford is 59-for-123 for 874 yards with four touchdowns vs. three interceptions. Ashford, who transferred in from Oregon with four years of eligibility remaining, has rushed for 275 yards on 59 carries with a score; he has been sacked eight times and has fumbled seven times.

The Tigers opened as a 13-1/2 point underdog for Saturday’s contest — their largest margin in the series since 2001, when Ole Miss was a two-touchdown favorite but lost 27-21 at Auburn.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) throws a pass as Missouri Tigers linebacker Ty'Ron Hopper (8) tries to block during the second half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Georgia looks to beat Auburn for sixth straight time

Second-ranked Georgia will look to remain undefeated when it hosts Auburn in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry on Saturday in Athens, Ga.

Georgia (5-0, 2-0 SEC) has defeated the Tigers (3-2, 1-1) five straight times stemming from a win in the 2017 SEC title game, giving the Bulldogs victories in 14 of the teams’ past 17 meetings.

The Bulldogs rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to pull out a 26-22 win at Missouri on Saturday night, while Auburn squandered a 17-0 second-quarter lead in a 21-17 loss to visiting LSU.

Auburn committed four turnovers, including a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and an interception on LSU’s 9-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett has completed 69.5 percent of his passes for 1,536 yards with five touchdowns and an interception.

“(Bennett) is a winner. He makes plays, he’s plenty fast enough to run the ball, he’s plenty fast enough to scramble around and make plays,” Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “He finds the open receivers, he’s accurate, and he manages their offense really well.”

Bennett’s three favorite targets are tight end Brock Bowers (20 receptions 342 yards, two TDs), receiver Ladd McConkey (20 catches, 266 yards, one TD) and running back Kenny McIntosh (22 receptions, 237 yards).

Kendall Milton (44 carries, 271 yards, four TDs) anchors the ground game along with Daijun Edwards (37 carries, 202 yards, one TD).

With Bennett under center the past two meetings, the Bulldogs have outscored Auburn 61-16. The Tigers haven’t won at Georgia since 2005.

Auburn, however, features the best running game the Bulldogs have seen so far. Auburn’s Tank Bigsby has rushed for 326 yards and four touchdowns on 69 carries and Jarquez Hunter has 139 and four scores on 34 carries.

“(Bigsby’s) explosive,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He is a great guy out of the backfield to catch the ball. He catches screens well. He is vertical on his run game. He is tough.”

Quarterback Robby Ashford, who has completed 54.1 percent of his passes for 709 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions, is also a threat running the ball. Ashford, who Georgia recruited heavily before he chose Oregon prior to transferring to Auburn before the season, has 50 carries for 223 yards and a score.

“His best plays sometimes are plays that end up being broken plays,” Smart said. “The guy can take off and really hurt you, beat with you his arm, especially on scrambles.”

Georgia likely will be without defensive tackle Jalen Carter for one to two weeks with a knee injury. Carter, who ranks as a probable top-five selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, injured the medial collateral ligament in his left knee when he took a shot to that area against Missouri.

“We don’t know how long it’s going to be, but it doesn’t look good for this week,” Smart said.

Auburn edge rusher Eku Leota, who is second on the team with tackles for loss (five) and sacks (two) is out for the season after tearing his pectoral muscle against LSU, Harsin said on Monday.

“Eku is a big loss,” Harsin said. “He’s an emotional leader and one of the top guys on this team.”

Auburn and Georgia have met 126 times, including annually since 1944. Georgia leads the all-time series 62-56-8. The Bulldogs and Tigers have met every season since 1892 except for 1893, 1897, 1917, 1918 and 1943.

–Field Level Media

LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) eludes Auburn Tigers defensive end Marcus Bragg (98) as the Auburn Tigers take on the LSU Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.Aulsu17

LSU overcomes 17-0 deficit to beat Auburn

Jayden Daniels and John Emery Jr. each rushed for a touchdown as LSU overcame a 17-0 deficit to defeat host Auburn 21-17 in an SEC game Saturday night.

Daniels, who was playing with a lower back strain suffered a week earlier against New Mexico, passed for just 80 yards before being replaced by Garrett Nussmeier early in the fourth quarter.

LSU (4-1, 2-0) scored a defensive touchdown to trigger the turnaround that produced a fourth consecutive victory.

Robby Ashford completed 19 of 38 for 337 yards and two touchdowns for Auburn (3-2, 1-1). But he threw an interception that was one of four Auburn turnovers.

Auburn led 17-14 at halftime and forced punts on LSU’s first two possessions of the third quarter.

But Auburn couldn’t extend the lead as it punted on its first possession before going for fourth and 10 at the LSU 37. Ashford’s deep pass went incomplete.

LSU took advantage by driving to Emery’s 20-yard touchdown run that produced its first lead, 21-17, which it held at the end of the third quarter.

Auburn drove to a first-and-goal at the 5, but the threat ended when a trick play backfired. Wide receiver Koy Moore, a transfer from LSU, tried a pass, but it was intercepted by Harold Perkins.

Auburn reached the LSU 35, but Greg Brooks Jr. intercepted Ashford with 2:18 remaining and LSU ran out the clock.

Auburn scored on the first possession when Ashford threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Varrius Johnson and the 7-0 lead held up through the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Ashford completed a 99-yard drive with a 61-yard touchdown pass to Camden Brown. Anders Carlson’s 29-yard field goal pushed the lead to 17-0 on Auburn’s next possession.

LSU continued to struggle on offense, but B.J. Ojulari forced a fumble while sacking Ashford and Jay Ward picked up the ball and ran 23 yards for a touchdown that trimmed the lead to 17-7.

Daniels led a two-minute drive that ended with him running 1 yard for a touchdown that cut the lead to 17-14 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback T.J. Finley (1) throws a pass against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the first quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Auburn QB T.J. Finley out for LSU game

Auburn quarterback T.J. Finley is expected to miss the Tigers’ home game on Saturday against LSU due to a shoulder injury, multiple media outlets reported on Wednesday.

The junior also was sidelined last week as Auburn edged Missouri 17-14 in overtime.

Finley is dealing with a Grade 2 AC sprain to his right (throwing) shoulder, according to AL.com.

Robby Ashford replaced Finley in the second half on Sept. 17 as the Tigers fell 41-12 to then-No. 22 Penn State. Finley, a transfer from LSU in his second season at Auburn, started the first three games of the 2022 season, completing 62.3 percent of his passes for 431 yards and one touchdown with four interceptions.

In the victory over Missouri, Ashford was 12 of 18 for 127 yards while also producing 46 yards rushing and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Finley was active and in uniform for the Missouri game but didn’t see action.

Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said before practice on Wednesday regarding Finley, “He was out there with those guys yesterday. We’ll see how he goes today and what he looks like.”

Auburn’s depth at quarterback took another hit last week when Zach Calzada, a Texas A&M transfer, decided to have season-ending shoulder surgery, according to AL.com.

On Saturday, Auburn (3-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) will attempt to beat LSU (3-1, 1-0) for the third year in a row. That would be Auburn’s longest winning streak in the series since taking four in a row from 1989-94.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback T.J. Finley (1) is tackled by Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Daequan Hardy (25) during the second quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Auburn QB T.J. Finley (shoulder) out vs. Mizzou

Auburn starting quarterback T.J. Finley will miss the Tigers’ SEC opener against Missouri on Saturday due to a shoulder injury, AL.com and On3 reported Tuesday.

Finley completed 11 of 19 passes for 152 yards with one interception last Saturday when the Tigers lost to then-No. 22 Penn State, 41-12.

Robby Ashford replaced Finley for most of the second half, though coach Bryan Harsin told reporters at the time that Finley’s shoulder injury had not “impacted too much of the decision” to sub in Ashford.

Both Finley and Ashford were under constant duress in the loss, as Penn State finished the game with six sacks and nine quarterback hurries.

Auburn (2-1) is likely to start either Ashford or Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada against Missouri.

Finley, in his second season with Auburn, has gone 33 for 53 for 431 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions through three games this season.

–Field Level Media

Penn State Nittany Lions running back Nicholas Singleton (10) runs the ball as Auburn Tigers take on Penn State Nittany Lions at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022.

No. 22 Penn State runs roughshod over Auburn

Nicholas Singleton ran for 124 yards and scored two of No. 22 Penn State’s five rushing touchdowns as the Nittany Lions capitalized on four Auburn turnovers to beat the host Tigers 41-12 on Saturday afternoon.

Penn State (3-0) defeated Auburn (2-1) for the second consecutive season and leads the all-time series 3-1. The Tigers had their 17-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents snapped, while the Nittany Lions won their 15th straight regular season game against a non-conference opponent.

Singleton’s 54-yard touchdown run down the sideline in the fourth quarter put the finishing touches on a dominant effort by the Nittany Lions, who had six rushers combine for 245 yards.

Penn State’s defense did the rest as it kept Auburn’s offense in check throughout a close first half. Penn State recorded five sacks and Ji’Ayir Brown and Zakee Wheatley each had an interception.

Penn State only outgained Auburn 477-415 in total yards. But the turnovers proved costly, especially a pair in the third quarter which the Nittany Lions converted into 10 points to help break the game open.

Brown sacked Auburn quarterback T.J. Finley, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Demeioun Robinson at the Tigers’ 30, which led to a field goal. Finley completed 11 of 19 passes for 152 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.

Finley, who appeared to be dealing with a shoulder issue, exited the game at that point. Backup Robby Ashford, who completed 10 of 19 passes for 144 yards, one touchdown and one interception, drove the Tigers as far as Penn State’s 8-yard line before he was dropped for a 4-yard loss. Ashford was then sacked by Abdul Carter for a loss of 11 and on the ensuring play, he was intercepted by Brown, who returned it to the Auburn 48.

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford led an eight-play drive capped by Allen’s 6-yard touchdown run as the Nittany Lions took a commanding 31-6 lead with 1:07 left in the third.

Clifford completed 14 of 19 passes for 178 yards and moved into second place in passing yards in school history with 8,512. He trails only Trace McSorley (9,899).

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Auburn Tigers head coach Bryan Harsin greets fans during Tiger Walk with the team before the game against the San Jose State Spartans at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn lands 4-star WR Adam Hopkins

Auburn went into enemy territory and claimed a commitment from four-star wide receiver Adam Hopkins, a blue-chip wideout from the state of Georgia in the Class of 2023, on Thursday.

Hopkins chose Auburn over Arkansas, Kansas State, Florida State and Texas A&M among his 20 offers.

The 6-foot recruit out of Thomasville, Ga., is rated the 24th-best wide receiver in the country and 17th best prospect overall in the state, per the 247Sports composite rankings.

The commitment comes a day after Auburn lost four-star WR Karmello English, who decommitted from the program.

–Field Level Media

Auburn Tigers running back Tank Bigsby (4) runs the ball as Auburn Tigers take on Mercer Bears at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Auburn Tigers leads Mercer Bears 28-7 at halftime.

No. 22 Penn State heads into ‘Orange-out’ at Auburn

It will be a role reversal Saturday afternoon when No. 22 Penn State heads south to face Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Tigers’ home in Auburn, Ala.

This is the second game in a home-and-home series between the Tigers (2-0) and Nittany Lions (2-0). Last year, it was the Tigers who were ranked 22nd and the Nittany Lions playing at home — and Penn State emerged with a 28-20 victory.

That loss has left Auburn eager for payback.

“We think we should have won the football game, for sure,” Auburn tight end John Samuel Shenker told AL.com. “That has left a sour taste in our mouths for a year now. We’ve had this one circled for a while, the guys that were here last year and seeing what we can do better to win this game this year when they come to our house.”

“I know they play in the Big Ten and it’s a lot different experience there,” linebacker Derick Hall told the Montgomery Advertiser, “but I know there’s no place like Jordan-Hare.”

The Nittany Lions are bracing for Auburn’s “Orange-out” as the crowd of more than 80,000 is being encouraged to wear orange.

“We know it’s going to be challenging,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “We’ll show them some pictures of what the locker room looks like, what the stadium will look like. We’ll show them some videos, obviously of the ‘War Eagle’ before the game, the band. We’re going to try to prepare for it the best we possibly can but at the end of the day we still have to go out and execute it.”

After a 42-16 win over Mercer, the Tigers struggled early in their win over San Jose State at home last week. Auburn trailed 10-7 at the half before pulling out a 24-16 decision.

“Obviously, last week we had to fight that one out; we had to play a full four-quarter game, and you know, some weeks it’s like that,” Hall told AL.com. “We know this week, competition’s only going to get harder from here on out, so we have to be consistent with that approach and take it one week at a time. I think the guys are ready. We’re prepared and fired up.”

Auburn also likely presents the most difficult challenge Penn State has faced this season. The Nittany Lions opened the season with wins over Purdue and Ohio.

While Penn State has done well against the pass led by defensive backs Keaton Ellis and Joey Porter Jr., it is bracing for Auburn’s power running game. Tank Bigsby has gained 198 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries through two games. Auburn’s 247.5 yards per game rushing ranks 14th nationally.

“This is going to be a challenge, there’s no doubt about it,” Franklin said Tuesday. “You make a mistake against this crew and it has a chance to cost you. We’re gonna have to be sound.”

Linebacker Curtis Jacobs — Penn State’s leading tackler with 11 — leads a group of linebackers that will no doubt be tested regularly. Penn State’s own running game has been led by freshman Nicholas Singleton, who has 210 rushing yards on just 20 carries.

–Field Level Media

Auburn Tigers quarterback Robby Ashford (9) runs the ball as Auburn Tigers take on San Jose State Spartans at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.

Auburn squeaks out 24-16 win over San Jose St.

Tank Bigsby’s one-yard touchdown run gave Auburn a lead it wouldn’t relinquish as the Tigers’ rushing attack and defense overcame their shaky quarterback play to pull out a 24-16 victory over visiting San Jose State on Saturday.

Bigsby rushed for 51 yards on 13 carries to lead a ground attack that ran for 210 yards and three scores on 38 carries.

The running game enabled Auburn (2-0) to compensate for quarterback T.J. Finley going 13-for-20 passing for 167 yards and an interception. Finley also rushed for 18 yards and a touchdown on five carries for the Tigers.

Finley’s backup, Robby Ashford, also threw three passes, resulting in a one-yard completion, one interception and an incompletion. He also had seven carries for a team-high 61 yards.

San Jose State (1-1) was led by Chevan Cordeiro, who went 24-of-40 passing for 275 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. The Spartans ran for just 54 yards on 29 carries, led by Kairee Robinson’s 24 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

The Spartans took a 3-0 lead on Taren Schive’s 33-yard field goal with 11:18 left in the half.

Auburn responded by taking the lead on Jarquez Hunter’s seven-yard touchdown run that capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive with 6:31 left in the half.

But the Spartans countered when Robinson powered into the end zone from a yard out to punctuate a 12-play, 75-yard drive with 58 seconds left that gave San Jose State a 10-7 lead at halftime.

Auburn mustered just six first downs and committed eight penalties for 76 yards in the first half.

However, Auburn took the lead for good on their opening drive of the second half when Bigsby’s one-yard touchdown run capped a nine-play, 69-yard drive to give the Tigers a 14-10 lead.

Anders Carlson’s 45-yard field goal pushed the lead to 17-10 with 4:48 left in the third quarter before Shive trimmed the lead to 17-13 with 14:49 left in the game.

Finley countered on Auburn’s ensuing possession with a four-yard touchdown run for a 24-13 lead with 12:45 left.

Schive’s 37-yard field goal with 2:11 provided the final margin. The Spartans’ ensuing onside kick went out of bounds, enabling Auburn to run out the clock.

–Field Level Media