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
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
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