* * AUBURN - Greetings from Jordan-Hare Stadium. You couldn't ask for a better day for football. Autumn is in the air. There are no clouds in sight.
Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor, AuburnUndercover.com
No. 7 Auburn will play a football game today that could catapult it into the heat of the national championship race, but it won't be easy. No. 12 Arkansas has big hopes and dreams, too. And recent history has not been kind to the Tigers against Arkansas.
Twice in the previous four seasons, the Tigers have put perfect records on the line against the Razorbacks. And both times they have lost by significant margins - 27-10 here in 2006 and 44-23 in Fayetteville last season. Could it happen again? It could. Will it? That depends on the men who will take the field to the cheers of what is sure to be an electric crowd.
We hear that freshman defensive end Craig Sanders, a special teams star who did not play against Kentucky last Saturday, is ready to go today. We don't yet have anything to offer on other injured players, including linebacker Eltoro Freeman.
I'll be back here before the game and throughout the game with updates and opinions. Make sure to check back often.
* Freeman is dressed out and warming up. Will he play? Don't know.
* Mario Fannin is listed as the starting tailback and freshman Steven Clark as the starting punter.
* Center Ryan Pugh and safeties Zac Etheridge and Aairon Savage are Auburn's captains.
* Arkansas wins the toss and takes the ball.
* Former Heisman Trophy winner led the Tigers onto the field, presumably after some words of inspiration.
* Wes Byrum is kicking off. That's a surprise.
* Joe Adams bobbles the kick near the goal line and is tackled by Demetruce McNeal at the 16.
* Arkansas isn't supposed to be able to run, but Knile Davis runs for 14 on second-and-10.
* On both of Ryan Mallett's passes, he's been under duress.
* Three incomplete passes and Arkansas must punt. Terrific start for Auburn's defense.
* Auburn will start from its 29, 13:55 left.
* Auburn has four wide receivers in the game.
* A 1-yard run by Fannin, a 1-yard loss on a pass to Fannin. Newton hits Darvin Adams for a 27-yard gain, but Auburn is called for holding for the first time in four games. Wow.
* A draw play loses 3 and Auburn must punt.
* Arkans starts at its own 45. Disappointing start for Auburn's offense, which had decent field position and gave it up because of a penalty.
* Arkansas jumps and Auburn is called for offsides. OK.
* First down at the Auburn 43 after another Davis run.
* First down at the 32. Davis is hurting Auburn running wide.
* First down on the 18 on a pass to Davis. Once again, Auburn's defense is having a hard time dealing with a short field.
* Fairley finally stuffs Davis for no gain.
* Timeout Arkansas with third-and-one at the Auburn 9.
* First-and-goal at the 7.
* Touchdown. The good start goes for naught. Arkansas leads 7-0 with 7:54 left.
* Now it's up to the Auburn offrense to answer.
* Demond Washington almost answered in a hurry. He returns the kickoff from the goal line to Auburn's 47. Can't ask for better field position than that.
* Emory Blake drops a pass that hits him right in the hands on first down.
* Newton scrambles to the 46.
* Newton hits Terrell Zachery to the 5. Newton charges into the end zone. The Tigers needed an answer, and they got it. It's 7-7 with 5:30 left in the first quarter.
* Arkansas is offsides. First down at the Arkansas 41.
* Fannin carries tackles to the 36. And there goes Newton, running and dodging to the Arkansas 14. First down.
* Arkansas starts from its 22, 5:24 left,.
* Auburn is tackling much better in space today.
* Three-and-dione for Arkansas. Two straight terrific open field tackles by Neiko Thorpe.
* After a bvliock in the back on the punt return, Auburn starts from its 8. Penalites!
* Big play. Newton to Adams at thye 30. A late hit moves it to the 45. That's getting out of a hole in a hurry.
* Auburn, with third-and-3 at the Arkansas 47, calls timeout.
* Newton hits Fannin for a fitst down at the 20.
* Auburn is called for holding again. Second-and-16 at the 26. Pass goes incomplete and that's the end of the first quarter.
* Oh, my. Adams was open for a touchdown in the end zone and Newton overthrew him.
* Byrum's field goal from is good. Auburn leads 10-7 with 14:48 left.
* Sanders and McNeil make a huge hit on the kickoff return at the 12-yard line.
* First down at the 33. First down at the Arkansas 49.
* Wide receiver Joe Adams gets the ball on a pitch and runs for a first down to the Auburn 23. Good call by Bobby Petrino.
* Washington goes for the interception, doesn't get it, first down at the Auburn 35.
* First down at the 7.
* Arkansas' misdirection running game is giving Auburn problems. Third-and-goal at the 2. Mallett, under pressure, throws incomplete. Yet another absolutely amazing pass interference call in the end zone. First down at the 1.
* An angry Chizik wants to talk to the official but is being ignored. It's 14-10 with 9:43 left.
* Auburn';s offense is called on to answer again.
* Auburn starts from its own 29, 9:37 left.
* First down at the 40 after a 7-yard Newton run.
* Fannin runs for a first down at the Arkansas 48.
* Newton makes an absolutely spectacular 5-yard scramble to the 43.
* Newton, on a called run, gains 40 yards to the Arkansas 3. Newton is pretty good.
* Fannin takes it in for a touchdown. He fumbles as he crosses the goal line, but the call is upheld. Aunburn leads 17-14 with 6:28 left. Looks like the predicted shootout might be materializing.
* Arkansas starts from the 24, 6:26 left.
* Tyler Wilson is in at quarterback for Arkansas. We don't know the story on Mallett. On a long, incomplete pass, T'Sharvan Bell is injured. That would eb a major, major loss in this game. He is wobbling off the field. It's second-and-20. Arkansas was called for a block in the back on a reverse on first down.
* Arkansas will punt from its own 32, 5:02 left.
* The punt is blocked by fresman Antonio Goodwin. First down at the 25, 4:35 left. Auburn's first nblocked punt since blocking one for a touchdown against Florida in 2006.
* Onterio McCalebb takes it hom on a 13-yard run. It's 24-14 with 4:03 left.
* Mallett is gone to the locker room.
* Arkansas starts from its own 34 after a good return. Wilson still at quarterback.
* First down at the Auburn 47.
* Wilson sacked at the Auburn 46 by Mike Blanc. Third-and-17.
* Wilson scrambles adn hits Adams for a first down at the 30. Wilson looks pretty good, too.
* Davis runs to the 12, but Arkansas is called for unsportsmanlike conduct and the ball goes back to the 32 with 1:14 left. First-and-10.
* A really awful play by Auburn's defense. Neiko Thorpe has the receiver covered in the end zone, doesn't turn his head and it's a touchdown. It's 24-21 with 1:06 left. The backup quarterback. Really, really bad sequence by Auburn's defense. I mean really, really bad. They let Arkansas back into a game it was on the verge of being out of.
* Auburn starts from its 20 after a touchback on the kickoff, 1:06 left.
* Newton hits Kodi Burns. First down at the 46 with 40 seconds left.
* Newton, on the quarterback draw, runs to the Arkansas 18. Timeout Auburn with 29 seconds left.
* Newton's pass complete to Fannin at the 9, but Auburn is called for a late hit after the play and the ball goes back to the 23, 17 secones left.
* Auburn at the 9 after an interference call on Arkansas, one second left.
* Byrum kicks a 26-yard field goal as time expires. Auburn leads 27-21 at halftime.
* Auburn has 273 yards offense. Arkansas has 256. Newton has rushed 15 times for 142 yards.
* Apparently, Mallett suffered some sort of head injury when he was hit by Nick Fairley on the pass that resulted in an interference call before Arkansas' second touchdown. He doesn't seem to be warming up, which probably indicates he won't be back. Backup Tyler Wilson looked really good in his place.Backup doesn't necessarily equal bad.
* One thing for certain is that Auburn can't afford a third quarter like it had last week. It gets the ball first and needs to do something with it, to say the least.
* Mallett has a concussion and will not return.
* Auburn will start from the 20 after a touchback.
* First down at the 40 after a 9-yard McCalebb run and 11-yard Newton run.
* Newton runs for a first down at the Arkansas 49.
* First down at the 37.
* Newton, the best player in America, runs 28 to the Arkansas 9.
* Fannin runs to the 5. Newton is sacked at the 11. Big play for Arkansas' defense.
* Zachery catches the ball in the end zone, but out of bounds.
* Byrum kicks from 28 yards and Auburn leads 30-21. Big drive, even though it ended in a field goal. The Tiers are up two scores now. It'll be interesting to see what kind of adjustments Auburn has made an how Wilson plays with the game in his hands.
* Sorry to have been away. Technical problems. You probablyu know the situation. Arkanbsas leads 43-37, 14 minutes left in the game.
* Newton to Burns. First down at the Arkansas 43. That was Auburn's first pass of the seocnd half.
* Newton to Blake. First down at the 30.
* Fannin charges ahead to teh 17. First down. Auburn playing fast.
* Newton to Blake, touchdown. UIt's 44-43 with 11:44 left. This game will cvertainly set a lot of records, regardless of the outcome.
* Can Auburn's defense find some of the fourth-quarter strength it's had in games past?
* Arkansas will start friom its 21, 11:38 left.
* Here we go again. Firt down at the 34.
* Third-andoone at the 43.
* Etherdge picks up a fumble and takes it to the house, 47 yards. That's what had to happen for Auburn. I'm sure, however, that it will be reviewed. And uit uis being reviewed.
* The ruling stands. Auburn leads 51-43 with 9:44 left. Despite all its troubles, Auburn's defense might have made the game-turning play. I stress might.
* Byne intercepts Wilson's pass and returns it to the 7, 33 yards. Defense again. Hey, it's the fourth quarter.
* Newton to the 3. Newton takes it in.
Aubhurn leads 458-43 with 8:31 left. A game for ages. I'm headed to the field.
* Savage hurts his right leg and is helped off. You have to feel bad for him, plus it's another huge loss for the secondary.