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Phillip's Lunchtime Musings, Oct. 14

Auburn's defense is not going to shut down Arkansas' offense on Saturday. And Arkansas' defense is not going to shut down Auburn's offense. Not going to happen. Ryan Mallett is too good. Cam Newton is too good.

Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor, AuburnUndercover.com

So what do you do if you are Bobby Petrino or Gene Chizik? Do you go into the game with all guns blazing, trying to score as quickly and as often as possible? Or do you slow it down and try to run the clock and keep the other offense on the sideline where it can do no damage?

That could be among the more interesting parts of Saturday's showdown between the No. 7 Tigers and No. 12 Razorbacks.

My guess is that both teams will come out ripping and roaring, trying to get a lead in a hurry. And my guess is that whoever gets the lead will go for the throat and try to take control of the game. I just don't see either team getting away from its offensive personality.

As in most games like this one, turnovers could change the entire complexion of things. The team that wins the turnover battle will probably win the game. If one team wins the turnover battle by a significant margin, it will almost certainly win the game.

We pretty much know what both teams will do on offense. Arkansas will try to establish some kind of running game but will try to win with the pass. Auburn will mix in the pass but will try to win by running the ball. But what will these two teams do on defense?

Will they try to make sure they keep everything in front of them and not give up big plays? Or will they be blitz and press and try to force mistakes? Both have done more of the former than the latter, but games like this sometimes cause coaches to break their tendencies.

And don't forget the kicking game.

Auburn was in the middle of a big comeback last season in Fayetteville, having closed a 34-3 deficit to 34-23. But Dennis Johnson returned a kickoff 70 yards, setting up the clinching Arkansas touchdown. Long kick returns and short kicks can make a significant impact.

In games this big between teams this good every play matters. One misstep, one blown assignment, one mental lapse can be the difference in winning and losing.

It should be fun to watch.

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