Auburn football (4-2) host the Tennessee Volunteers (2-4) on Saturday with their eyes still on an SEC West championship should Alabama slip up along the way. Here are the three keys to an Auburn win.
By Steve Wright
1. Beware a team rounding into form
The Tigers appear to be playing some of their best football of the season and their last outing was their best of 2020 so far as they beat up LSU. They have leant more on the legs of Tank Bigsby – he had two touchdowns on 15 carries against LSU – and the result is that Bo Nix is forcing he ball downfield less and making fewer mistakes. His three touchdowns passing against the Tigers was complimented by no interceptions and that is the quarterback that Nix needs to be for this offense to be successful. His chemistry with Seth Williams also seems to be increasing by the game, something that should prove effective here against a bad Tennessee secondary.
2. Does Tennessee have an offense?
The answer after the first few games of the season seemed to be yes. Since then, however, Jarrett Guarantano has done Jarrett Guarantano things and the offense has stalled out more than it has progressed. This was especially true in the Vols last game out against Arkansas where the passing game didn’t work at all and the combination of Harrison Bailey, Guarantano, and Brian Maurer completed 11 passes for 107 yards. Taking away the pass will force the ball into the hands of Eric Gray – he carries an astonishing 33 times against the Razorbacks – and will make the Vols one dimensional and easy to stop.
3. Is Auburn rested or rusty?
The Tigers haven’t played a down in anger since Halloween thanks to a combination of bye weeks and Covid-19 cases. The Vols have fared only slightly better with their schedule, having played just one game in the last month – the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas – since getting their doors blown off by Alabama in late October. Auburn is going to be down players due to Covid, but this has to be a next man up situation and the Tigers need to hit the field ready and raring to go. Giving Tennessee an early lead by playing sloppy football is the only way that Auburn loses this game.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 6:00 PM CT (7:00 PM ET). You can watch this Auburn football game on the ESPN Network.