College Football Week Three: Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks At Auburn Tigers

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at Auburn Tigers
Saturday, September 15, 2012, 12:20 pm Eastern, TV: SEC Network
Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn, Alabama
Opening Line: Auburn -15 1/2
Current Line: Auburn -16 1/2
Opening Total: 55 1/2
Current Total: 53
Opening Money Line: Auburn -900 / ULM +600
Current Money Line: Auburn -900 / ULM +600

The 0-2 Auburn Tigers are desperate for a win against the ULM Warhawks who upset Arkansas last week. Auburn is a 16.5 point favorite at home.

 If you looked at this match-up before the season started, and someone told you one team would be looking for their first win and the other would be undefeated, you would most likely assume Auburn would be the undefeated team. However, it is the 0-2 Tigers that are desperate for a win against the 1-0 Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. This is the 9th meeting ever between Auburn and ULM. Auburn has won all 8 meetings, including 52-3 in 2010 at home. In fact all previous meetings have been at Auburn. In the last 4 meetings Auburn has outscored ULM 190-10.

Louisiana-Monroe is coached by Todd Berry. The Warhawks opened the season last week as 30 point underdogs against #8 Arkansas. The total was 61 points. The Warhawks were officially listed as the home team but the game was played in Little Rock. The Warhawks jumped out to an early 7-0 lead but Arkansas scored 28 unanswered points. The Razorbacks looked well on their way to a win, but quarterback Tyler Wilson suffered a concussion and did not return in the second half. The Warhawks scored 21 unanswered points  including the game tying touchdown with 47 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

Arkansas kicked a field goal in their overtime possession. ULM had 4th and 1 at the 16 yard line. After lining up for the potential tying field goal, the Warhawks called a timeout. Berry changed his mind and decided to go for it. ULM quarterback Kolton Browning not only picked up the first down, but ran all the way to the end zone to give the Warhawks the 34-31 upset. The loss dropped Arkansas completely out of the polls after they had been #8. It was arguably the biggest win in ULM history, at least since they moved up to FBS in 1993.

ULM held Arkansas to 377 total yards including 96 rushing yards. The Razorbacks had 2 turnovers and 9 penalties for 70 yards. The Warhawks had 550 total yards, including 412 passing yards from Browning. He completed 42 of 67 passes with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Browning also had 16 carries for 69 yards and the game winning rushing touchdown. Jyruss Edwards had 15 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown. Brent Leonard had 11 catches for 112 yards and the game tying touchdown catch late in the fourth. Ja’Ronn Hamm (6 catches, 92 yards), Tavarese Maye (9 catches, 76 yards, and Colby Harper (6 catches, 61 yards) all had huge games as well against Arkansas. Centarius Donald and Kevin Steed each caught touchdown passes.

Auburn is coached by Gene Chizik. The Tigers are 0-2 after a 26-19 loss to Clemson in Atlanta, and a 28-10 loss at Mississippi St last week. Auburn hadn’t started off 0-2 since 2003 before this season. The Tigers are passing for 159.5 yards per game (111th out of 124 FBS teams) and rushing for 135.5 yards per game. Auburn is being outscored 27-14.5 so far this season. Auburn is 0-2 ATS and both games have gone under the total.

Last week, Auburn was a 3 point underdog in their SEC opener at Mississippi St. The total was 48.5. Neither team scored in the first quarter. Mississippi st took a 7-3 lead into halftime. Ontario McCalebb returned the opening kickoff for Auburn in the second half to give the Tigers a 10-7 lead. However, they wouldn’t score for the rest of the game. The Bulldogs  scored the last 21 points of the game to win 28-10.

Auburn played a very sloppy game. The Tigers had only 216 total yards, including 125 passing yards. Auburn had 7 penalties for 57 yards and 5 turnovers. The Tigers gave up 388 total yards including 166 rushing yards to the Bulldogs. Mississippi St had 5 penalties for 61 yards and one turnover.

Tiger quarterback Kiehl Frazier has struggled so far in his first season as the starter. He has completed 24 of 49 passes (49%) for 319 yards with 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions. He threw 3 interceptions in the loss to Mississippi St. Frazier has also lost 3 fumbles. Tre Mason has 22 carries for 131 yards. McCalebb has 20 carries for 86 yards. The Tigers have yet to score a rushing touchdown and in fact Frazier’s touchdown pass is the only offensive touchdown Auburn has scored in two games. Emory Blake has 6 catches, 140 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen has 6 catches for 83 yards. Quan Bray has 7 catches for 58 yards. Kicker Cody Parkey has made all 5 of his field goal attempts so far along with 2 extra points.

ULM is 5-1 ATS after allowing 100 rushing yards or less, 4-1 overall, 19-39 in non-conference games, 2-5 after a cover, and 1-4 after allowing 280 passing yards or more.

Auburn is 18-0 straight-up against Sun Belt teams. The Tigers are 5-1 ATS at home against teams with winning road records, 4-1 after gaining less than 275 total yards, and rushing for less than 100 yards, 10-4 after failing to cover, 5-11 after a straight up loss, and after scoring less than 20 points, 1-4 against teams with winning records, and in non-conference games, 1-5 overall, and 0-4 in September and on grass.

It seems hard to believe Auburn is only 2 seasons removed from a BCS Championship, but it did happen in 2010. Auburn has struggled on offense against two tough opponents, Clemson and Mississippi St. They should find it easier to move the ball against the Warhawks. Although, ULM did a decent job against a powerful Arkansas offense in the upset.

I think that was a perfect storm for ULM. First, Arkansas might have been looking ahead to their showdown with Alabama this week. Secondly, the Razorbacks lost their star quarterback to injury and only scored 10 points in the second half without him. Auburn desperately needs a win with games against LSU and Arkansas coming up. An upset loss to ULM would lead to a very good chance of an 0-5 start for the Tigers. Auburn wins, but ULM could hang around the 16.5 point spread.

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