No. 15 Auburn opens SEC play with visit to reeling Missouri
No. 15 Auburn (2-1) at Missouri (1-2, 0-1 SEC), Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU).
Line: Auburn by 19 ½.
Series record: Tied, 1-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Auburn entered this season expected to serve as the Southeastern Conference’s strongest contender to Alabama. However, the No. 15 Tigers have struggled offensively so far this season — despite the arrival of Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham at quarterback. If Auburn is to turn things around and mount a serious challenge to the Crimson Tide, that must start on Saturday against a reeling Missouri team that has appeared in disarray through the first three weeks of the season.
Auburn’s secondary vs. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. Auburn ranks ninth nationally in yards passing allowed, giving up 113 yards per game. The Tigers’ secondary is led by All-SEC preseason picks Carlton Davis at cornerback and Tray Matthews at safety. They’ll face a Missouri offense led by Lock, who is sixth in school history with 5,630 passing yards.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Auburn: RBs Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway. Auburn’s top rushers haven’t played together this season after Pettway was suspended for the first game for undisclosed reasons and Johnson’s hamstring injury kept him out for the last 10-plus quarters. The Tigers are expected to have both on Saturday night, providing a much-needed boost to an offense that scored only 24 points in last week’s win over Mercer.
Missouri: RB Damarea Crockett. The sophomore rushed for 1,062 yards last season as a freshman, and he opened this year with a 202-yard rushing effort. Crockett struggled with only 19 yards rushing on 10 attempts in last week’s loss to Purdue, and the Tigers will need his best if they hope to seriously threaten Auburn.
FACTS & FIGURES
The last time the two schools played was in the 2013 SEC championship game, when Auburn came away with a 59-42 win ... This will be the first regular-season conference matchup between the two ... Auburn’s quarterback situation could get interesting if Stidham is hurt, considering backup Sean White was dismissed from the team earlier this week — leaving freshman Malik Willis as the Tigers’ only scholarship quarterback.