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Auburn vs. ULM: What to watch

AUBURN - Ten storylines to watch in Auburn’s game against South Carolina tonight at Jordan-Hare Stadium:

ULM quarterback Kolton Browning

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. Will Newton continue his rise into national prominence? Will he play enough to have an opportunity to pile up big numbers again?

The mental game. Auburn players and coaches have said all the right things about taking the five-touchdown underdog Warhawks seriously. Will they do it or will they be detached and find themselves in a battle they don't want?

Auburn's offensive line. The Tigers had perhaps their most dominant in years up front in last Saturday's win over South Carolina. The question is whether they will that keep that edge and continue to play even better against a physically overmatched opponent.

The first half for Auburn's defense. The Tigers have been terrific in second halves but shaky in first halves. That has to change if they are going to survive the tough tests that are ahead.

Auburn's freshmen. If the game goes as expected, a dozen or so true freshmen from one of the nation's top recruiting classes should get more extended playing time that in any game this season to date.

ULM quarterback Kolton Browning. Browning, a dual threat redshirt freshman, had 324 yards offense in ULM's 21-20 victory over Southeast Louisiana last Saturday. He has been named Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week in two consecutive weeks.

The spread offense. The spread is ULM's mode of operation. It's a similar offense to the one that gave Auburn some trouble in the season-opener against Arkansas State, another Sun Belt team. Two weeks, the War Hawks lost 34-20 at Arkansas State.

Auburn's punting game. Senior Ryan Shoemaker is at the bottom of the Southeastern Conference punting statistics. Freshman Steven Clark has a big leg. Auburn coaches said only that Clark would get a look this week, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him play in his first Auburn football game.

Auburn tailback/H-back Mario Fannin. Fannin sat out one game and played another with his shoulder in a harness. The harness is gone now. Did his fumbling difficulties go with it?

Backup Auburn quarterback Barrett Trotter. If the games goes like the oddsmakers expect it to go, Trotter should get an extended opportunity to show Auburn fans what he can do.

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