Auburn vs Arkansas: 3 Keys to Victory

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Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) looks to throw against the Missouri Tigers in the third quarter during the 2013 SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome.. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

For Auburn to Win:

1. Don’t Force the Passing Game: Auburn coaches have been adamant that the Tigers will be throwing the football more than they did last season, and why not? Nick Marshall (though he won’t start Saturday of course) is back for a second year behind center, and the Tigers return all their top pass catchers from 2013. Auburn even brought in the top junior college player in the nation in wide receiver D’haquille Williams – so it makes sense.

However, the Tigers were at their best last year when the running game was highlighted. Following the first bye week of the season, the Tigers turned to the ground game as a point of emphasis, and the team rolled to nine consecutive victories. The philosophy even made Marshall a better passer as he completed 68 of his 92 pass attempts over that stretch, for a whopping 73.9% completion rate. Marshall also had an 8-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio.

The weather could play a factor in the game and currently reports an 80% chance of rain on Saturday with possible thunderstorms. In bad weather conditions, the passing game is much more difficult to execute – so Auburn shouldn’t force it, but instead rely on the rushing attack with timely play-action mixed in to create big play opportunities through the air. Sound familiar? It’s the game plan that helped the Tigers reach the BCS National Championship Game last season.