Auburn Tigers 35, Arkansas Razorbacks 17: Beating Them at Your Own Game

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

There were some moments when it seemed like the head coaches of these two teams had switched places. But that was about as close to surprise as you could get

There wasn't ever a moment when this game was truly in doubt. When Arkansas kicked a field goal early in the second quarter to cut the lead to 7-3, they got as close as they were going to get all night long. Auburn poured on 21 unanswered points from there, and basically coasted to a win. And most of us were pretty confident that something like that was going to happen.

But this game was about the psychodrama of the whole thing, and the most intriguing example of that came in the third quarter. That was when Arkansas ran a trick play out of the "swinging gate" we heard so much about this week -- because Auburn had supposedly left it off some of the game tapes sent to Arkansas. After that play, Auburn linebacker Anthony Swain walked back toward his position, apparently looking at the sideline, stood in the end zone -- and then mysteriously crumpled to the ground, grabbing his knee.

Of course, that would be after Gus Malzahn had suggested at SEC Media Days that he thought there should be a crackdown on fake injuries. So we had Bret Bielema on the field complaining about a possibly fake injury by Gus Malzahn's team shortly after having run a play out of a formation that was supposedly Malzahn's specialty. For a few brief seconds, everything was Bizarro World.

The game, itself, though -- that was pretty normal. Tre Mason ran for 168 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries. Auburn gained just 20 more yards than Arkansas, but actually gained 6.7 yards a snap to the Hogs' 4.7 yard a snap. That's not to say that Auburn didn't have some subpar drives in the game -- they did -- but the total offense numbers in this one can be a bit deceiving if you don't add any context.

The greater significance here is that Auburn, as long as it gets past the game at Tennessee next week, will then have the ability to shape both SEC division races over its final two contests. A win against Georgia would all but end the Dawgs' chance at an SEC East title, and a one-loss Auburn would then play Alabama for the SEC West. Those games might not have quite as much pyschodrama as this one, but they'll more than make up for it with the real-world counterpart.

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