Auburn Hosts Western Kentucky

Auburn Western Kentucky

The Auburn Tigers host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers this Saturday in the final game of the season at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn enters the game with a 4-6 record, coming off an emotional 13-10 win over Texas A&M in their previous game. Western Kentucky is 7-4 and currently third place in Conference USA with a 5-2 league record. The Tigers will be looking to send their seniors out with one more home victory, and the second win for interim head coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams. The game will be televised by the SEC Network at 3 p.m. Central local time.

Auburn Hosts Western Kentucky

Series History

Saturday will be just the third all-time meeting between the Tigers and Hilltoppers. Auburn won both match-ups in 2003 and 2005 in convincing fashion. That last game between the two in 2005 saw the Tigers win 37-14, and in 2003 they won 48-3. An interesting statistic from that first game is that interim head coach Carnell Williams rushed for 71 yards and scored one touchdown in the game. He is looking to get a second win and Auburn’s third in the series.

2022 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Who is the 2022 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers? This is a team that has had a solid season so far led by a high-powered offense and an opportunistic defense. Head coach Tyson Helton had the difficult task of replacing record-setting quarterback Bailey Zappe coming into the season. Zappe broke the FBS all-time single-season passing yards (5,967) and touchdowns (62) records in 2021. They hit on the position again with Austin Reed. He is currently second in the nation in passing yards with 3,548 yards and tied for third with 31 touchdowns. His best game of the season was two weeks ago in a 59-7 win over the Charlotte 49ers. In that contest, Reed passed for 409 yards and six touchdowns.

Reed has plenty of talent around him with receivers Malachi Corley and Daewood Davis. Corley leads Conference USA with 953 yards, and Davis ranks fifth with 837. Both have reached the endzone seven times this season. The offensive line has done well only allowing 11 sacks, and five of those came against the Troy Trojans in a loss earlier in the season. When it comes to sacks the Hilltoppers have the best in Conference USA with JaQues Evans. The sophomore has got to the quarterback eight times and is third in the conference with 89 tackles. Western Kentucky leads the country with 30 forced turnovers and 17 interceptions. Leading the way there is Kaleb Oliver with three. The Hilltoppers also lead the country with six defensive touchdowns with four from fumbles and two by interceptions.

Can Auburn Reach the Same Energy Again?

When Auburn defeated Texas A&M 13-10 this past Saturday, it was a battle of 3-6 teams, but the crowd in Auburn made it feel like a championship game. The sold-out crowd made their voices heard early and often and impacted the Aggie offense. This was all due to the impact of Carnell Williams. The interim has brought new energy to the Tigers and the Auburn family. They will need that kind of energy again to defeat the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

It starts with continuing to stay with the rush attack led by Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter. Both tailbacks rushed for 121 yards each against the Aggies. Offensive coordinator Will Friend used the two in creative ways, including having both on the field at the same time. There was even an instant where the two were joined with the third back in Damari Alston. The running attack doesn’t end there because quarterback Robby Ashford is always a threat as well. Western Kentucky gives up an average of 145.6 yards rushing a game.

It has been quite a renaissance the past two weeks on defense for the Tigers as well. Especially since halftime of the Mississippi State game. The unit has eight quarterback sacks during that time and has constantly kept the pressure on the opposing passer. Against Texas A&M, Auburn had three with the biggest by Colby Wooden with a late strip sack. Owen Pappoe and Nehemiah Pritchett got the other two. For Pappoe a lot was expected coming into the season, but he has been absent most of the season. In the last two weeks, he has played like the player he was expected to be. Of course, the Hilltoppers will have to also keep an eye out for Derick Hall. He is fourth in the SEC with six and a half sacks.

Auburn-Western Kentucky Prediction

When Auburn hosts Western Kentucky the more talented team should win. Despite the losing record, that team is the Auburn Tigers. Expect the Auburn family to come out again and make their presence known. Both Bigsby and Hunter should have big days on the ground again, and the pass rush will give Reed flashbacks to how he felt against the Troy Trojans. Auburn wins 28-13.

Embed from Getty Images