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Auburn Tigers vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Preview: Small Game With High Stakes?

This game is Auburn's easiest remaining contest and a win that Arkansas really needs

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn Tigers vs. Arkansas Razorbacks, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2

It's not too much of a stretch to say that this might be the hardest game remaining on Auburn's schedule. After this, the Tigers go to Tennessee and then face Georgia and Alabama at home. And while Georgia has looked average at times and Tennessee is mediocre at best, both have looked better than Arkansas for quite awhile now.

Not that the Hogs have nothing to play for here. If they can somehow manage to pull off the offset -- I know, that's looking like a really tall order -- a very narrow path to a possible bowl game opens up. It's almost not worth talking about, but Arkansas could conceivably then try to win at Ole Miss and against Mississippi State to get to the postseason. (We'll exclude for the moment the possibility of another upset at LSU, but the history of that game says we shouldn't rule it out.)

Oh, and there's pride at stake. We all know about the back and forth between Bret Bielema and Gus Malzahn in the run-up to this game. After Bielema's epic takedown of a Malzahn comment at SEC Media Days, the Arkansas coach picked a fight this week with some snark about the game film. Malzahn has so far refrained from taking too many shots at Arkansas right now, but we all know that there is no love lost there.

So there are a variety of personal motivations in play in this game. But they're not needed. This is a game that Auburn must win if it wants to be considered a player in the SEC West, and a game that Arkansas needs to win simply to keep its season afloat.

In the end, though, games aren't won on motivation. A loss in this game will put Arkansas on the brink of elimination from the postseason and give Auburn a boost heading into a do-or-die stretch. Nick Marshall or no, that's exactly what should happen.

Auburn 32, Arkansas 13