Kerryon Johnson‘s absence from the field will apparently be a brief one.
The running back sustained a sprained ankle in Auburn’s Week 6 win over Mississippi State, and, coming off a bye, the football program was initially optimistic he’d be available for the Week 8 game against Arkansas. Instead, he was a game-day decision for the Razorbacks.
While Johnson missed that game, that won’t be the case this Saturday as Gus Malzahn declared his starting back ready to go against Ole Miss.
“He practiced yesterday. He will play, there’s no doubt about that,” the head coach Gus Malzahn said during the weekly SEC teleconference Wednesday. “We’re trying to be smart about it.”
At the time of his injury, Johnson’s 538 yards rushing and six touchdowns were tops among all Tiger backs. Kamryn Pettway ran for a career-high 192 yards against te Razorbacks, and now leads the team with 697 yards. Both Johnson and Pettway are part of an offense that ranks third nationally in rushing yards per game (302.9).
I tried (in vain) to explain to my Ohio State-leaning family and friends that Saturday’s loss to Penn State wasn’t the end of the world. Sunday, Kevin explained as much.
Tuesday, one wagering website revealed it doesn’t see the postseason sky falling on the Buckeyes, either.
In its latest set of odds, has placed the Buckeyes at 9/2 to win the 2016 College Football Playoff. While that’s longer odds than the 11-4 OSU was getting a week ago, just one team sits ahead of them: Alabama at 8/5, slightly shorter odds than the 9/4 the Tide got last week.
Michigan (6/1), Clemson (7/1), Louisville (9/1) and Washington (9/1) are the only other teams to receive single-digit odds. The Wolverines, at 7-1 Oct. 18, are the only one of that quartet of teams to see their odds shorten.
Below is the complete set of 2016 College Football Playoff championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:
After slipping on the road against Penn State, Ohio State took a slight fall in the coaches poll this week. The Buckeyes dropped from second in the poll behind top-ranked Alabama to eighth. Adding salt to the wound, Michigan took over the second spot in the poll previously occupied by Ohio State. Clemson remained at third in the poll and Washington moved into the top four.
Arkansas and Ole Miss dropped out of the rankings this week, making room for Colorado and Virginia Tech. Houston, despite a blowout loss at SMU, remained in the top 25 at No. 24.
Here is this week’s coaches poll, with first-place votes noted:
- Alabama (63)
- Clemson (1)
- Ohio State
- West Virginia
- Texas A&M
- Boise State
- Florida State
- North Carolina
- Western Michigan
- Virginia Tech
No. 21 Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) rushed for more yards against No. 17 Arkansas (5-3, 1-3 SEC) than any team has since before the turn of the century en route to a smashing 56-3 victory over the Razorbacks Saturday evening in Jordan Hare Stadium. When all was said and done, the Tigers racked up 543 rushing yards.
Kamryn Pettway led the ground attack with 192 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Eli Stove had a 78-yard touchdown run to boost his 94-yard day and Stanton Truitt rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns to add to Auburn’s wildly productive day on the ground. Quarterback Sean White was a part of the fun too, with 61 rushing yards and a score to go with his 77 passing yards and passing touchdown.
On the other side, Auburn’s defense never allowed Arkansas to get a running game going. The Razorbacks ran 31 running plays and managed just 25 rushing yards in the game. A combined loss of 14 yards were credited to Arkansas quarterbacks Austin Allen and Ty Storey. Allen was forced to leave the game in the first half due to an apparent knee injury but he returned after a brief absence. Rawleigh Williams III was the leading rusher for the Razorbacks with 22 yards on 13 carries.
Auburn also played a pretty clean game with just two penalties for 10 yards and no turnovers (Arkansas had two turnovers). The Razorbacks are going to have to think long and hard about this one, or simply put the game film in the trash and forget about it. Either way, there was no denying this was one of the worst losses Arkansas has experienced under Bret Bielema.
Arkansas will get a little extra time to prepare for their next game. The Razorbacks have a much-needed bye week coming up next weekend, giving them an extra week to prepare for a home game against Florida.
OK, so time to look forward for Auburn. Before you start looking to the end of the year with the Iron Bowl matchup with Alabama, Auburn has to go on the road next week to play Ole Miss. Yes, the Rebels may be a fringe top-25 team this season, but there is no question they can be a dangerous opponent. However, Auburn’s defense has been playing very well the past month and has now held each of their past four opponents to fewer than 15 points. Doing that against Ole Miss may be difficult, especially on the road, but Auburn is playing with confidence.
It took one play for Auburn to put some points on the scoreboard, and the Tigers have yet to look back on Arkansas. Auburn holds a decisive 28-3 lead on the Razorbacks at the half. Auburn has run for 268 yards to just 26 yards on the ground by Arkansas.
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen left the game in the first half with an apparent knee injury. He was helped off the field and replaced with redshirt freshman Ty Storey. Allen did return to the game.
Eli Stove (85 yards) took off for a 78-yard touchdown run on the first offensive play Auburn got to run after Arkansas was forced to punt on the game’s opening possession. Auburn’s second touchdown drive took a little longer (10-plays, 91 yards). Kamryn Petway (117 yards) finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead. Arkansas fumbled away the ensuing possession after just three plays, and Auburn capitalized with a Stanton Truitt touchdown run from 20 yards out.
It’s just been a mess of a first half by Arkansas, and the bad news is there is a second half to play.