Where: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.
Line: Auburn by 7.5
Radio: 1070 AM, 100.5 FM
1. Gus’ great start: Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has gotten off to a fantastic start in his first year, posting an 8-1 record through nine games. It’s the second best beginning to an Auburn football coaching career. Terry Bowden won his first 20 games at the helm of the Tigers from 1993-94.
2. Historically tough schedule for Tennessee: It’s been 20 years since a team has had to face as difficult a slate as the Vols this year. Auburn marks the seventh ranked team Tennessee will face in its last eight games, becoming the first school since Pittsburgh in 1993 to be dealt such a gauntlet. It’s a record number of ranked opponents for the Vols to square off against in a single season — in 1991, they faced six ranked foes in the regular season and then No. 6 Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl.
3. Mason making it look easy: Auburn’s Tre Mason leads the SEC in touchdowns with 14, with four of them coming last week against Arkansas in a career-best performance. The junior has found the end zone in six straight games, the longest streak by a Tiger since Carnell Williams did the same in 2004. His six-game tear is the fourth-longest active streak in the FBS.
4. Reversal of fortunes: Tennessee is looking to end a five-game losing skid to Auburn, which stretches between 2003-09. It’s a stark contrast to the Vols’ previous luck against the Tigers, which saw them go 5-0-1 during 1989-99. Auburn leads the all-time series 27-21-3.
Tennessee offensive line vs. Auburn defensive line: The Volunteers don’t do anything particularly well offensively, as they rank 11th or worse in the league in the four major statistical departments: scoring offense, total offense, rushing offense and passing offense. But the unit expected to be the strength of the team this season was the offensive line, led by four preseason all-SEC selections (left tackle Antonio Richardson, center James Stone, right tackle Ja’waun James and right guard Zach Fulton). Not surprisingly, head coach Butch Jones was disappointed with the line’s play last week, as the Vols were able to rush for only 94 yards. If the Vs’ big men up front can’t open up more running lanes this week, it will allow Dee Ford (second in the conference with seven sacks) and the rest of Auburn’s defensive line to tee off on true freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
The only thing the Tigers talked about during the week was how the Vols “were a different team” when playing at home. Tennessee is 4-1 at Neyland Stadium and 0-4 in away games this season. What Auburn’s players and coaches neglected to mention whenever this tidbit was brought up is that all of those games, except for last week against Missouri, came with Justin Worley at quarterback. His backup, Dobbs, is set to make his second career start, and asking him to be able to match points with the Tigers’ offense is a big demand. Expect the Vols to hang around for at least a quarter or so before the Tigers’ running game takes over. ... Auburn 38, Tennessee 10