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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 12:21 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dudley Field (40,550) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: SEC Network, MSG, Altitude. Home Record: Auburn 0-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Away Record: Auburn 0-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Neutral Record: Auburn 0-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Conference Record: Auburn 0-4, Vanderbilt 1-3. Series Record: Series is tied, 20-20-1.
GAME NOTES: The Auburn Tigers continue their search for their first SEC win of the season on Saturday afternoon when they head to Nashville to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores.
With losses in five of its first six games, Auburn is off to its worst start since 1998, a year when it finished 3-8 overall and 1-7 in conference play. The Tigers dropped a conference matchup to Ole Miss last week, 41-20, which snapped the Rebels' 16-game SEC losing streak.
Vanderbilt has not performed much better, although it can make claim to a conference victory, defeating Missouri on the road on Oct. 6, 19-15. The Commodores have been a victim of a brutal early-season schedule, losing three games to nationally-ranked foes South Carolina (17-13), Georgia (48-3) and Florida (31-17).
After 41 all-time meetings, the series between Auburn and Vanderbilt is tied, 20-20-1, although the Tigers have had the upper hand in recent years, winning 13 of the last 14 matchups.
Auburn has the worst offense in the SEC, ranking last in both points per game (16.2) and yards per game (287.5), and it converts just 29.9 percent of its third downs.
Most of the offensive struggles can be explained by poor quarterback play. Kiehl Frazier started the first five games but was dreadful, completing less than 55 percent of his passes for 664 yards with just two touchdowns to eight interceptions. Clint Moseley started in his place last week but was inefficient as well (11-of-18, 112 yards, INT).
Emory Blake is the only receiver that has made a significant impact this season, leading the team in receptions (26), yards (378) and touchdowns (two). No other player averages more than 24 receiving yards per game.
The Tigers' rushing attack has been the one silver lining for the offense, as Tre Mason (389 yards, three TDs), Onterio McCalebb (293 yards, two TDs), and Mike Blakely (114 yards) all average more than five yards per carry. However, 19 sacks of Frazier and Moseley have hurt the team's overall rushing production (3.4 ypc).
Auburn's defense (26.5 ppg) hasn't played well, but at least it's been an improvement on last year's effort (28.9 ppg). The unit tends to tighten up in the red zone, allowing teams to score touchdowns on less than 50 percent of its trips inside the 20-yard line (12-of-25).
Daren Bates is the conference's top tackler (11.7 per game), and he is well on his way to a career year with 70 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. Corey Lemonier is the team's best pass rusher with five sacks and another eight QB hurries.
Vanderbilt has faced some of the toughest defenses in the country through its first six games, and because of that its offensive numbers have suffered (20.5 ppg, 365.7 ypg).
Jordan Rodgers has been erratic under center. He has thrown for 213.6 yards per game, but his completion percentage is poor (.552) and he has just three touchdowns against two interceptions. Rodgers is coming off a strong performance against Florida however, with a season-high 237 yards and a score.
Rodgers targets Jordan Matthews the most, as he is second in the SEC with 43 catches and 617 yards. With opposing defenses shifting most of their focus to Matthews, Chris Boyd (19 catches, 405 yards) is often open for big plays. Boyd's 21.3 yards per catch is tops in the league among receivers with at least 13 catches.
Although Zac Stacy is on pace to fall short of his record-setting season last year (1,193 rushing yards), he has still been plenty productive with 499 yards and four touchdowns on 99 carries.
The defense (22.3 ppg) has kept the Commodores in most of their games. The pass defense has been especially stout, allowing fewer than 150 yards per game.
Kenny Ladler (42 tackles, sack, INT) and Chase Garnham (38 tackles, 3.5 TFL, two sacks) are the unit's top playmakers. The team has 28 passes defended, but it has only recorded two interceptions.
Auburn is a team in disarray right now, and without a viable option at the quarterback position, things aren't likely to change any time soon. Vanderbilt has been anything but spectacular, but if it can run the ball effectively with Stacy and continue to play solid defense, it should be able to prevail at home against the reeling Tigers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vanderbilt 24, Auburn 17
10/17 10:43:03 ET
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