Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.
Line: Auburn by 23.5
Radio: 1070 AM, 100.5 FM
1. Winning the close ones: Auburn has shown a knack for knowing how to close out games this season. The Tigers are 3-0 in games decided by seven points or less and 4-0 in contests decided by eight points or fewer this year. In addition, Auburn has three come-from-behind wins this year, overcoming Washington State, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
2. Florida Atlantic seeking to end postseason futility: The Owls captured bowl victories in 2007 and 2008. But that’s the last time Florida Atlantic has tasted postseason success, missing out on bowls the past four years. Since that 2008 triumph against Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl, the Owls have gone 15-40.
3. Marshall mastering the ground game: Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall rushed for at least 100 yards for the second straight start last week. He ended with exactly 100 yards on 20 carries versus Texas A&M, including two touchdowns. In his previous outing against Ole Miss, Marshall tallied 140 yards on 14 carries. Those pair of performances made him only the third quarterback in Auburn history to have multiple 100-yard games on the ground. He trails only Cam Newton (six) and Phil Gargis (four).
4. Johnson a “gray” Owl: Florida Atlantic center Mustafa Johnson, 29, is one of the oldest players in FBS. According to the Owls’ athletic department, there are only six players in FBS older than Johnson, who was born on June 15, 1986. (The oldest is 32-year-old Nate Boyer, a deep snapper for Texas.) Johnson, a senior, has made 18 straight starts at center for FAU.
Auburn vs. Itself: Yes, much like Auburn’s game against Western Carolina two weeks ago, the outcome of this contest isn’t in doubt. What is up for debate, however, is the Tigers’ mind-set. Each player this week — with the exception of defensive end Dee Ford — has said his only focus is on Florida Atlantic. No talk of the increased expectations of being No. 11 or the opportunity of winning a conference crown (and possibly more) have seeped into the locker room yet. The easiest way to know whether that is truth or bluster is how the Tigers come out of the gates Saturday. If it looks the team that held a 42-3 lead against Western Carolina at halftime, we’ll be able to take them at their word.
The game plan for Auburn is simple: just do what it does best, which means running the ball. Miami showed how vulnerable FAU’s defense is against the run in the season opener for both teams, as the Hurricanes ran for 303 yards and three touchdowns. Assuming the Tigers do what they need to, their starters on both sides should be done by midway through the third quarter, if not sooner. Then the question for the offense becomes whether to let Jeremy Johnson take the majority of the snaps at quarterback or decide to toss a bone to Jonathan Wallace to get his first (and probably only) extended action of the season. ... Auburn 45, Florida Atlantic 14.