Tale of the Tape: Auburn vs Arkansas

The 5-4 Auburn Tigers have a chance to win three games in a row for the second time this season when they travel to 3-6 Arkansas on Saturday.

Auburn is coming off one of its better wins of the season, flashing offensive firepower on the road against Vanderbilt.

Arkansas is also coming off a solid road win, taking down Florida in overtime 36-33 for the Razorbacks’ first win in the SEC.

The big win in the swamp has oddsmakers confident Arkansas can keep it rolling at home, as BetMGM has the Hogs favored by 2.5 points on Saturday.

ESPN FPI lines up almost exactly with the books, giving the home team a 54% chance to send Auburn back to the Plains with a 5-5 record.

Will the tale of the tape show us the wrong team is favored in this SEC matchup, or will it prove Arkansas has the upper hand?

As always, we’ll start by looking at the quarterbacks.

Tigers quarterback Payton Thorne is playing his best football of the season at the right time.

Thorne has averaged 212 passing yards over the past 2 weeks, throwing for 5 touchdowns in that span. Most importantly, Thorne has only turned the ball over once, although that one turnover did turn into 6-points.

The two wins have significantly helped Thorne’s season stats. The junior has now passed for 1,269 yards this season in 9 games. He’s thrown 10 touchdowns, rushed for 2, and thrown 6 interceptions.

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson has been solid this year for the Razorbacks, throwing 16 touchdowns on his way to 1,802 passing yards.

The senior has been careless with the ball, turning it over at least once in every SEC game so far.

The long-time Razorback gets the edge in the quarterback battle because of his experience and leadership of the offense. He’s been the guy for Arkansas for three years now, while Thorne has only been “the guy” for Auburn in the last two weeks.

Arkansas may have the quarterback edge, but it’s Auburn that gets the edge on the rest of the offensive side of the ball.

Jefferson is the Razorbacks leading rusher this season. That would be fine if he were lighting it up on the ground like LSU quarterback Jalen Daniels, but Jefferson actually has fewer rushing yards (292) than Payton Thorne (337) does this year.

Arkansas employs a three running back committee featuring AJ Green, Rashod Dubinion, and Raheim Sanders. The trio have combined for 740 yards on 183 carries this season. If those numbers don’t look great, that’s because they are.

Auburn’s top running back Jarquez Hunter missed the first game of the season but has ran for almost as many yards (636) on 75 less carries.

The Tigers have also been better in pass protection, as Payton Thorne has been sacked a total of 19 times this year. KJ Jefferson on the other hand has hit the turf 36 times.

Hugh Freeze’s team gets the edge in offensive line play and skill position play.

On the defensive side of things, Auburn’s 13th-ranked defensive efficiency gives them a slight edge over a solid Razorbacks unit.

The Tigers are giving up 22.8 points per game to opponents this season, which ranks, 41st in the FBS.

The Arkansas defense isn’t too far behind, giving up an average of 25.8 points per game, which ranks 55th.

Auburn gets the slight edge, but things become even considering the game is being played in Fayetteville.

After looking at the tale of the tape, it’s hard to argue with the experts this week. This game is going to be a toss-up. The home team gets the ever-so-slight edge in this one.

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Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire