Arkansas and Auburn have flipped the script for one week, at least.
The Razorbacks are trying to sustain the good feelings from their first Southeastern Conference win in nearly three years. The 13th-ranked Tigers (1-1, 1-1 SEC) look to bounce back from a humbling defeat at No. 3 Georgia entering Saturday's meeting at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Arkansas (1-1, 1-1) and first-year coach Sam Pittman are guarding against a letdown following that upset of then-No. 16 Mississippi State which snapped a 20-game SEC skid.
“The hardest job, I've heard, is when you have what your program might consider a big win and then playing the next week,” Pittman said. “I just would be very disappointed in myself if we weren't ready to play, so we're aware of that and we certainly have visited about it.”
The Tigers are in a different boat. They dropped from the top 10 after falling 27-6 to Georgia with one of the least productive offensive performances of coach Gus Malzahn's tenure.
Auburn managed just 216 total yards and a pair of field goals, and the running game was thoroughly stymied by the Bulldogs. The Tigers will face a defense that has forced six turnovers in two games and managed to slow down Mississippi State's high-octane offense.
“Their defensive coordinator, Barry Odom, (is) one of the best there is and what he did against that offense that set SEC all-time records the week before, he deserves two SEC coach of the week awards,” Malzahn said.
The Razorbacks are set to face their former head coach. Chad Morris is now Auburn's offensive coordinator after getting fired late in the 2019 season, his second in Fayetteville.
“We're going to be ready for whatever coach Morris has ready to throw at us,” Arkansas defensive back Joe Foucha said. “We're going to be all over it.”
Auburn turned to freshman tailback Tank Bigsby for his first start against Georgia. The Tigers' top-rated recruit led the team in rushing (31 yards), receiving (68) and returns (72 on kick returns). Shaun Shivers was out with an undisclosed injury, and his status for this game is unclear.
“I mean, he could have done some things better, but he played extremely hard, and he played with passion,” Malzahn said.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix and Arkansas's Feleipe Franks have put up very similar numbers and are trying to jump-start two of the league’s least productive offenses.
Franks has completed 39 of 64 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Nix is 37 of 68 for 410 yards and three TDs against one pick, which ended a 251-pass streak without one.
STOPPING AU'S WIDEOUTS
Foucha figures Auburn's two top receivers — Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz — won't beat the Razorbacks.
“Bo Nix is going to have to pick other receivers to throw the ball to because I know for a fact — and my defense is going to hold me up to that — that (No. 5, Schwartz) and 18 (Williams) are not going to have the ball in their hands most of the time,” said Foucha, coming off a two-interception game.
Auburn has won the last four meetings by at least 31 points, the first time in program history the Tigers have won four straight games against an SEC opponent by at least 30 points. The current four-game win streak by Auburn is the longest winning streak by either team in series history.