College Football

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Florida Atlantic (2-5) at (11) Auburn (6-1)



Saturday, October 26, 7:30 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: After an upset victory last weekend gave them a huge boost in the latest national rankings, the 11th-ranked Auburn Tigers step out of conference to play host to the Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday night.

FAU is playing its first season in Conference USA after coming over from the Sun Belt, and it has been a rocky transition. The Owls are 2-5 overall and have gone just 1-4 in league play. They most recently hosted Marshall on Oct. 12 and lost 24-23 on a last-second field goal.

The Owls also challenged themselves with a non-conference matchup with Miami- Florida on opening day, losing 34-6, and head coach Carl Pelini knows what his team has in store.

"(Auburn is) getting better every week," Pelini said. "Good offensive team, balanced. It's a big challenge. They are the best team we have faced this year."

Many expected Auburn to take a step forward in 2012 under a new regime after an embarrassing 3-9 record last season, but few could have predicted its return to prominence in the SEC so quickly. The Tigers made their debut in the polls last week at No. 24, and during last weekend's improbable run of upsets, they pulled off arguably the most impressive by taking down seventh-ranked Texas A&M on the road, 45-41. They are now ranked 11th in both the AP poll and the BCS standings.

"This is a statement game, and the statement we wanted to put across was that we're coming," Auburn running back Tre Mason said following the upset of A&M. "It's just getting better from here on out."

Head coach Gus Malzahn, on the other hand, has more tempered expectations for the rest of the season.

"We've not arrived yet," Malzahn said. "We'll look back at the end of the year and we'll figure everything out."

These two programs have met just once before, with Auburn winning in September of 2011, 30-14.

FAU has not found much success offensively this season, ranking in the bottom half of C-USA in both scoring (22.3 ppg) and yardage (376.9 ypg), while committing 15 turnovers.

Much of the blame for the Owls' poor season can be assigned to inconsistent play at the quarterback position. Jaquez Johnson has failed to impress, completing less than 61 percent of his passes for 1,060 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions, while Greg Hankerson (.494 completions, 422 yards, three TDs, three INTs) has been even worse. Johnson has a decisive edge in terms of rushing with 346 yards and five scores.

Jonathan Wallace brings a steady, reliable presence to the backfield, turning 102 carries into 508 yards and three touchdowns.

Daniel McKinney (32 receptions, 338 yards) and William Dukes (25 receptions, 337 yards) are a solid receiving duo. Dukes is targeted most in the red zone, cashing in with four touchdowns.

The poor play of the offense has masked an impressive year defensively, as the Owls allow just 26.0 ppg and 360.4 ypg.

Adarius Glanton has team-highs in both total tackles (49) and TFL (6.5) while adding 2.0 sacks. D'Joun Smith is one of C-USA's best defensive backs with four interceptions, two forced fumbles and 13 passes defended. Brandin Bryant and Cory Henry have tallied four sacks apiece.

Auburn's offense has been nothing short of outstanding this season, scoring 35.9 ppg behind the nation's eighth-ranked rushing attack (300.1 ypg). The Tigers managed to keep pace with the high-octane Texas A&M offense a week ago by amassing 615 total yards.

After missing the previous game with a knee injury, quarterback Nick Marshall returned against the Aggies to pile up 336 total yards and four touchdowns, giving him 1,138 passing yards, 388 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.

"My knee felt good all week," Marshall said. "The trainers worked on it all week ... On the last drive we went out there and executed. We knew we were going to be the more conditioned team in the second half, and it showed."

The leader in the backfield is the junior Mason, who has 693 rushing yards, 107 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He had his best game of the season in last week's upset with 178 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Cameron Artis-Payne (417 yards, four TDs) and Corey Grant (376 yards, three TDs) have played well in limited action.

Sammie Coates leads the receiving corps with just 18 catches, but many of those have gone for big plays as he sits with 423 yards and two touchdowns.

The Tigers defense took a bit of a hit in allowing 41 points to the Aggies last week, but they are still one of the most impressive units in the SEC (22.0 ppg, 428.1 ypg). They've been rock solid on third down, holding opponents to a 34 percent conversion rate.

Robenson Therezie has a team-high 33 tackles and also has three of the team's nine interceptions. Dee Ford, Carl Lawson, Gabe Wright and LaDarius Owens have created a strong pass-rush with a combined 23.0 TFL and 11.0 sacks. Ryan Smith has been active in the turnover battle with two picks and a forced fumble.

After stepping up to the challenge in recent weeks against top-notch competition, don't expect Auburn to lay down in this one, as the Tigers' rushers will have little problem finding holes to run through on their way to an easy win.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Auburn 45, Florida Atlantic 16

10/23 10:36:53 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR
 
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
Final
WAS 3
STL 4
Final
CLE 0
TOR 5
Final
DET 5
ANA 2
Final
BOS 4
BAL 2
Final
KAN 5
MIN 4
Final
CHC 8
CIN 4
Final
OAK 4
HOU 3
Final
PIT 7
MIL 8
Final
NYM 5
ATL 7
Final
TAM 16
NYY 1
Final
MIA 7
SEA 0
Final
TEX 6
CWS 3
Final
LOS 8
ARI 6
Final
COL 3
PHI 1
Final
SDP 3
SFG 1
1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
ATL
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
SEA
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
NYY
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
3:05pm Today
TEX
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
4:10pm Today
LOS
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
7:05pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
Final
TOR 87
BRK 94
Final
LAC 105
GSW 109
Final
IND 93
ATL 101
Final
OKC 100
MEM 86
1:00pm Today
SAN
DAL
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
HOU
POR
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
PIT 3
CLB 4
Final
COL 4
MIN 2
12:00pm Today
NYR
PHI
3:00pm Today
BOS
DET
7:00pm Tonight
MON
TAM
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
LOS
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR