Five reasons Auburn will beat Arkansas on Saturday

Auburn football is in dire straits. Arkansas football is not.

No, the Razorbacks haven’t had the season many fans hoped when the year began. Arkansas was coming off a nine-win year and the hope was the Hogs could turn that into nine wins during the regular season. Instead, they’re 4-3 – incidentally the exact record they had last year through seven games.

Auburn is swimming. Coach Bryan Harsin has been on the hot seat since the season began and with the Tigers just 1-3 in SEC play and going against a fellow 1-3 team, the pressure is on for Saturday.

Arkansas is a small betting favorite even with the game being on the Plains. But Auburn is fighting for its proverbial life. If the Tigers come away with a win, it won’t necessarily change long-term fortunes, but it could be enough to inject life into the program for a bit longer.

Here’s how Harsin could save his – ahem – bacon in Week 9.

1. Bryan Harsin's pressure

Auburn Tigers head coach Bryan Harsin looks on during warm ups before Auburn Tigers take on Missouri Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

Let’s be honest, none of us want to get fired. If we know it might come, it’s human nature to do everything possible to keep the job, especially if it’s lucrative. That’s Harsin on Saturday.

Auburn might not fire its coach if the Tigers lose on Saturday, but you can almost bet Harsin will be out of that gig by season’s end if that’s the case.

2. Auburn quarterback Robby Ashford

Oct 15, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Robby Ashford (9) reacts with offensive lineman Kilian Zierer (77) after a touchdown during the third quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Robby Ashford is not a dynamic passer. But he’s shown – 337 yards against LSU – that he can be when opportunities are there. Plus, on the ground, he’s as dangerous a quarterback as Arkansas has faced this year in that regard.

 

3. Arkansas' secondary issues

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – NOVEMBER 06: Malik Chavis #4 of the Arkansas Razorbacks tackles Makai Polk #10 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the second half at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on November 06, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Bulldogs 31-28. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Ashford’s opportunities will come because Arkansas will present them. Injuries have devastated the Razorbacks defensive backfield and the Hogs have the 128th-ranked pass defense in FBS. Woof.

4. Tank Bigsby is the second best back in the SEC

Tank Bigsby
Tank Bigsby

Auburn Tigers running back Tank Bigsby. (Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports)

Auburn running back Tank Bigsby is just seventh in the SEC in yards rushing per game. That belies what he does. Auburn has only made him a workhorse three times this year and in two of those, including last game, he has run for more than 140 yards.

5. Arkansas is on the road

PROVO UT- OCTOBER 15: Keanu Hill #1 of the Brigham Young Cougars pushes off Trent Gordon #18 of the Arkansas Razorbacks during the second half of their game October 15, 2022 LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images)

The Razorbacks beat Brigham Young on the road two weeks, the last time Arkansas played. The game was in doubt until the last quarter, basically, and Auburn isn’t Provo. Road games in the SEC are always difficult and when the teams aren’t far in talent, the nod generally goes to the home crew.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire