Auburn Football vs. Vanderbilt: Matchups and Prediction

Oct 29, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Auburn Football Tigers running back Kamryn Pettway (36) runs the ball during the second half of the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Auburn won 40-29. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Here we take a look at how Auburn football matches up with Vanderbilt this weekend as the Tigers look to pick up their sixth straight win.

Auburn football will try to stay hot this weekend as they play host to a tough Vanderbilt team that is looking to get closer to becoming bowl eligible.

The Tigers are currently riding a five-game winning streak while becoming one of the hottest teams in the country thanks to vast improvement on offense.

Vanderbilt has won two games in a row and is now just two wins shy of reaching a bowl game after starting the season 2-4.

The Commodores are playing much better football as of late, especially with their upset win on the road over the Georgia Bulldogs.

A lot of people thought this would be a much improved Vanderbilt team in 2016, but an opening season loss to South Carolina derailed those expectations. Then they were embarrassed on the road against Georgia Tech, and lost back-to-back games to Florida and Kentucky.

However, now they just need to win two of their last four games in order to get to six wins and a bowl game.

Auburn has actually lost two in a row to Vanderbilt, so there is a little more emphasis from the fanbase to win this game.

I think the Tigers matchup really well with the Commodores in this game as both teams have a very good defense, but Vanderbilt has struggled mightily on offense in 2016.

Let’s take a look at each matchup and then we’ll give our prediction.

Oct 22, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores running back Ralph Webb (7) leaps to avoid the tackle by Tennessee State Tigers safety Larry Wilhoite (12) during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium. Vanderbilt won 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt Offense vs. Auburn Defense

The Vanderbilt offense has been pretty terrible this season, especially in SEC games where they’re averaging just 11.5 points per game. Seriously, they haven’t scored more than 17 points in any SEC games this year – although they did win that game.

Overall the offense is averaging 20.8 points per game and 308.6 yards per game.

Ralph Webb is one of the better running backs in the SEC, but unfortunately his talents are hidden at Vanderbilt. Even though teams stack the box against the Commodores to stop him, he’s rushed for a 5.2 yard per carry average on 164 attempts going for 855 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Kyle Shurmur has taken over at quarterback and has thrown for just over 1,000 yards and 4 touchdowns to 3 interceptions.

The Commodores only have 4 passing touchdowns on the season, and wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb has two of them.

The offensive line has given up 17 sacks this season.

Oct 29, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly (10) carries the ball during the second quarter of the game against the Auburn Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn’s defense has given up just 16 points a game this season and 358.2 yards per game. They also have 20 sacks on the season.

I expect Carl Lawson, Marlon Davidson and Montravius Adams to have a field day on Saturday and help pile up at least four sacks.

Joshua Holsey proved he can be a lockdown corner to me last week, so I expect he and Carlton Davis to play a lot of man coverage to allow us to stack the box and stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback.

Auburn has given up 126.6 rushing yards per game this year. In all honesty, if they can just stop Webb from breaking any big runs, I think we can shutout their offense.

This will be a big game for our guys up front, and I think they have a huge game.

Oct 29, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Kerryon Johnson (21) carries the ball during the second quarter of the game against Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn Offense vs. Vanderbilt Defense

The offense has exploded the past four games scoring at least 38 points in each game during that stretch. The commitment to run the football has really helped them take off, and I expect that to be the same formula this weekend.

Kamryn Pettway has taken over as the starting running back, and it’s easy to see why. He’s now the team’s leading rusher with 933 yards on 148 carries for a 6.3 yard per carry average and 7 touchdowns.

However, that is not a slight to Kerryon Johnson who has been outstanding this season as well before his injury. He still leads the team with 8 touchdowns.

With the heavy workload that Pettway has gotten the past three weeks, I expect carries to be a little more even in this one.

Sean White was very impressive against Ole Miss, and while teams like Vanderbilt continue to load the box to stop the run, White needs to continue and prove that he can complete passes.

His 68.5 percent completion rating is one of the best in the country, and as long as he keeps the defense honest our run game will continue to dominate.

Sep 17, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Dedrick Mills (26) scores a rushing touchdown against Vanderbilt Commodores linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) in the third quarter of their game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Yellow Jackets won 38-7. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Vanderbilt defense is no slouch though. It’s probably the best defense we will have seen since LSU, although the two are still far apart.

The Commodores are giving up just 21.4 points per game on the season and allowing 398 total yards of offense. They’re allowing 157.6 yards per game on the ground and 240.4 through the air.

Linebacker Zach Cunningham is an absolute beast leading the team with 85 tackles and 13.5 tackles for a loss. He’ll be all over the field Saturday and Auburn will need to put a few bodies on him.

Outside of Cunningham there really aren’t any superstars on this defense. I imagine they’ll try to bring everyone up to the line of scrimmage to stop the run.

If that’s the case, I hope Auburn comes out throwing the football as their secondary is not very strong. If we have success throwing the ball early against the defense, Auburn should cruise to victory.

Oct 29, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Sean White (13) moves in the pocket during the second half of the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Auburn won 40-29. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview and Prediction

To be completely honest, I don’t see how Auburn loses this game unless they have 10-plus penalties and 5 turnovers.

Even then I don’t see this game getting away from them because Vanderbilt simply can’t score. If our defense just plays an average game in this one we should be fine.

If they prevent Ralph Webb from getting loose on some big runs, then I don’t see Vanderbilt reaching double-digits in points.

Offensively, I think it would be wise to come out throwing the football. You know Vanderbilt wants to stop the run, but their secondary is 82nd in the nation giving up 240.4 yards per game through the air.

I trust Sean White to complete some intermediate to long passes against this Vanderbilt secondary. Then we can begin to pound away on the ground.

As I mentioned, I would like to see Kerryon Johnson get a good bit of carries in this game to prove that he is healthy and at full strength. Plus, Kamryn Pettway has been overworked the past three games.

Vanderbilt’s defense is good enough to plug up the middle and slow down the run game, but I think Auburn has the speed to stretch this defense and find some room on the outside.

Don’t be surprised to see Stanton Truitt and Eli Stove get a good bit of carries in this game as well.

John Franklin III likely gets a lot of looks in this game too, although I feel like I say that every week now.

My Prediction:

Auburn – 31

Vanderbilt – 0

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