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Kicking the Tires: Auburn Tigers

K-State welcomes the Auburn Tigers to town tonight for the biggest home non-conference game in K-State history. Here's what to expect from the Wildcats and Tigers.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

It's here. Uptempo, spread-to-run against the spread-power-I, ball-control offense. Five-star-try-hards against ESS-EEE-SEE SPEED. Bill Snyder and Gus Malzahn. The Big 12 and the SEC.

Of course, as inter-conference matchups go, this one is basically reversed. The uptempo, basketball-on-grass team in this matchup is the SEC team, while the ball-control, grind-it-out, minimize-mistakes team is the Big 12's entrant.

Auburn will face K-State tonight, with kickoff slated for 6:30 p.m. in Manhattan. For two excellent previews of the schematics the teams employ, check out Ian Boyd's "How K-State can upset Auburn" and College & Magnolia's "K-State Offensive Film Preview." Individuals to watch and key matchups are below.

Players to Watch


Rushing: Jake Waters, 37 carries, 193 yards, 5.2 yards/carry, 4 TDs, 96.5 yards/game

Passing: Jake Waters, 35-57-1, 462 yards, 8.1 yards/attempt, 2 TDs, 231.0 yards/game

Receiving: Tyler Lockett, 7 receptions, 145 yards, 20.7 yards/reception, 1 TD, 72.5 yards/game


Rushing: Cameron Artis-Payne, 42 carries, 289 yards, 6.9 yards/carry, 4 TDs, 144.5 yards/game

Passing: Nick Marshall, 14-25-0, 151 yards, 6.04 yards/attempt, 1 TD, 75.5 yards/game

Receiving: D'haquille Williams, 13 receptions, 214 yards, 16.5 yards/reception, 1 TD, 107.0 yards/game

K-State's Charles Jones also averages 65 yards per game rushing, and is the primary option when K-State uses its wildcat formation. DeMarcus Robinson has been a decent receiving option out of the backfield, with six receptions for 64 yards (10.7 yards/reception).

Auburn currently has four backs averaging more than 50 yards per game, wich Corey Grant (88.0 yards/game), Marshall (61.0) and Roc Thomas (51.0) pitching in behind Artis-Payne. If there's a bright spot, it's that Auburn is a little turnover prone. Auburn fumbled the ball 30 times last season. They recovered 19 of those, so they're due a little bad luck on fumbles. We hope, anyway. Marshall and Jeremy Johnson have pretty low interception rates, but they did combine for eight interceptions last year.

K-State Advanced Stats

F/+: 26th

Offensive S&P+: 15th

Rushing S&P+: 5th

Passing S&P+: 38th

Standard Downs S&P+: 9th

Passing Downs S&P+: 50th

Offensive Success Rate: 7th (52.1%)

Defensive S&P+: 82nd

Rushing S&P+: 48th

Passing S&P+: 47th

Standard Downs S&P+: 37th

Passing Downs S&P+: 77th

Defensive Success Rate: 80th (38.5%)

Auburn Advanced Stats

F/+: 7th

Offensive S&P+: 7th

Rushing S&P+: 6th

Passing S&P+: 9th

Standard Downs S&P+: 24th

Passing Downs S&P+: 2nd

Offensive Success Rate: 3rd (53.7%)

Defensive S&P+: 29th

Rushing S&P+: 44th

Passing S&P+: 110th

Standard Downs S&P+: 98th

Passing Downs S&P+: 54th

Defensive Success Rate: 49th (33.8%)

Points, anyone? There should be plenty of them. Both offenses are good overall, stay on schedule, and are good on standard downs. Neither is especially explosive, with Auburn ranking 52nd in isoPPP, while K-State is 71st.

Meanwhile, neither defense has distinguished itself thus far. Auburn has been really bad against the pass against, and its top defensive back, Jermaine Whitehead, will not be on the field. If K-State can establish a credible running threat and stay on schedule, there's a chance Jake Waters and the Wildcat wide receivers could hurt Auburn through the air.


There will be points. There will be yards. There will be big plays. If you like defensive struggles, this game will not be for you. Auburn's big, aggressive offensive line will be a load for K-State's undersized defensive line, and the back seven will have to exhibit excellent assignment discipline to keep up with Auburn's fakes and misdirection.

Conversely, Waters-to-Lockett is as lethal a deep threat as there is in the country, and Auburn's secondary is shorthanded and hasn't been very good so far this year. K-State will also probably catch the aggressive Auburn defense out of position on a POP pass or some other form of misdirection.

If K-State can stand up to Auburn's rushing attack like it did against Lache Seastrunk and Baylor last year, and the offense can hit some big plays and sustain a few drives, the home team will have a chance. A few forced turnovers from the defense would help, too. As much as I'd like to, I just can't predict it.

Auburn 38, K-State 35