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No. 8 Auburn heads to Arkansas Saturday night
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 11/2/2013  at  4:31:00 AM
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Kickoff: Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
Line: Auburn -8, Total: 54.5

Winners of four in a row SU and five in a row ATS, No. 8 Auburn will look to stay hot on Saturday as heavy road chalk against a struggling Arkansas squad.

The Razorbacks are off to a weak 3-5 start and they haven’t been any better in the books, going 2-6 ATS. They have lost five consecutive games SU, the last four of which were versus SEC opponents. During that difficult patch of four straight ranked opponents—Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina and most recently Alabama—the Razorbacks were outscored 179-50. In their past two games against South Carolina and Alabama, they were outscored 104-7. Arkansas is now 5-15 ATS over the past two seasons, including 2-10 ATS against teams with winning records. The good news is the Razorbacks are 16-4 ATS since 1992 coming off a road loss of 21 or more points. Auburn’s only loss this season came at the hands of LSU, while it has racked up quality wins against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. The Tigers' dominant rushing attack now racks up 315.4 YPG, the fifth most in the nation. Including a 24-7 win last season, Arkansas has now won two in a row SU and ATS against Auburn.

Can Auburn cover the moderate road spread on Saturday? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts are a combined 56% ATS (86-68-7) in college football Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary who is 65% ATS (13-7-1) in college football Best Bets over the past seven weeks and 58% ATS (14-10-1) this year. StatFox Dave is also 58% ATS (28-20-2) in Best Bets this season, while StatFox Brian is 57% ATS (21-16-1) for yearly CFB Best Bets.

Including their agile QB Nick Marshall, Auburn has four rushers who have at least 400 yards on the ground this year, and they all average more than five yards per carry. Tre Mason (753 rush yards, 5.8 YPC, 9 TD) leads the way, averaging 112.7 YPG over the team’s past three contests. Cameron Artis-Payne (510 rush yards, 7.1 YPC, 5 TD) and Corey Grant (451 rush yards, 10.0 YPC, 4 TD) have been important complements in the backfield. Marshall, who is probable to play despite a shoulder injury that knocked him out early last week, averages 5.7 YPC and has found the end zone five times as a rusher while tallying 461 yards. That versatility on the ground makes up for his less than ideal passing statistics, as he is completing just 57.6% of his passes with six touchdowns, four interceptions and 1,148 yards. His top target through the air has been Sammie Coates, who has 536 receiving yards and four touchdowns. The Auburn defense has been strong against poor teams lately—holding Florida Atlantic to 10 points last week and Western Carolina to three points three games ago. They give up 4.0 YPC on the ground and 7.3 yards per pass attempt, with opponents completing 57.0% of their passes.

The one thing Arkansas can do well is pound the ball on the ground, averaging 209.9 rushing YPG. The Razorbacks have a two-headed rushing attack split between Alex Collins (797 rush yards, 5.7 YPC, 4 TD) and Jonathan Williams (612 rush yards, 6.1 YPC, 4 TD). Both of their numbers are down significantly since hitting SEC play, but they could still be key for helping Arkansas manage the clock and keep this one close. The real issue with their offense has been the dreadful passing performance of QB Brandon Allen, who is completing only 44.9% of his passes this year. He has thrown for 955 yards, 8 TD and 7 INT, and in his last three games, he has not found the end zone while getting picked off four times. Auburn’s defense doesn’t make Allen look any better, as they are letting opponents complete 62.3% of their passes. They are better than that against the run though, giving up 4.6 YPC.

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