Auburn Football: 3 keys to victory against Tennessee this Saturday

Auburn football Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn football Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports /

Fly War Eagle is back and ready to preview this coming Saturday’s Auburn football matchup with the Tennessee Volunteers.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any Auburn football this past Saturday, with their duel against the Mississippi State Bulldogs being pushed back to December 12 due to a spike in new COVID-19 cases over at MSU.

The War Eagle is looking past what was a  sad and football-less Saturday in Auburn to November 21st when the #23rd-ranked Tigers take on the Tennessee Volunteers. Here are 3 keys to victory next weekend:

Take advantage of the Volunteers defense

Tennessee has had a rocky season so far because of its inability to stop the opposing passing attack. Bo Nix is ranked 25th in the NCAA FBS for completions while ranking 38th in passing touchdowns.

The juxtaposition of the gun-slinger on a ranked juggernaut riding the high of a Halloween beatdown of LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium against a defense that gave up 34 points to a Kentucky Wildcats offense that is tied for last in passing touchdowns and 58th in rushing touchdowns is one that points in the direction of an Auburn air-feast.

Step on their throats early

The Tigers have let certain opponents hang in games for far too long to be comfortable. It has resulted in some missed spreads, sure, but not throttling the Ole Miss Rebels of the world–and instead letting them hang around until the fourth quarter–has probably cost Auburn a few spots in the rankings already.

While the COVID-19 cancellation of their Mississippi State contest could put them behind in their preparation for next week, the Tigers need to handle the Volunteers with ease if they have any hope of climbing back into the top 15.

If Auburn can establish the run and Nix can start letting them fly, this one could be over before it even gets going. Tennessee lacks in the passing game, and an early Tiger lead could force them to struggle in the air, leading to a lopsided time of possession in favor of the good guys.

Stop the Volunteers on third down

As long as Auburn football plays by the script, this should be a dominant performance on both sides of the ball. While the Tigers don’t necessarily have the stringiest defense (56th in tackles for a loss) but they do tend to hold opponents to very few red zone attempts in a given game (3.5 in 2020).

Tennessee’s offense is far from explosive, averaging under 200 passing yards per game. Given the SEC’s lack of defensive fortitude in this strange pandemic-affected fall sprint this season, 174 yards in the air per contest is downright disappointing.

Though this game will be on at Primetime (7 pm eastern on ESPN), this should have the feel of a conference juggernaut beating up on a basement dweller…but that isn’t a guarantee.

The saying isn’t “any given Saturday”, but that modified-from-its-original-format expression applies to what has been a hectic college football season so far.

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