- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn put away any upset talk with an impressive 38-9 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday. Here are three things we learned:
Malzahn’s offense is dangerous: Sure, it was only a Sun Belt team -- albeit one that was on a nine-game winning streak -- but it’s been a while since we’ve seen Auburn put up more than 35 points against an FBS opponent. The Tigers scored 20 or fewer points in eight games last season. But Gus Malzahn is back, and the offense is better because of it. Give credit to the offensive line, which has been outstanding in each of the first two games, but the scary thing is that quarterback Nick Marshall hasn’t reached his full potential. As he continues to improve and learn the system, he could take the offense to another level.
The defense has plenty of depth: As impressive as the offense was in Week 2, the Auburn defense played even better. They held Arkansas State -- which scored 62 points and rushed for more than 500 yards in the season opener -- without a touchdown. The key to the success was how deep the Tigers are, especially on the defensive line. They rotated players on the line all night, which kept everybody fresh and allowed for reserves such as Carl Lawson and LaDarius Owens to make plays. At linebacker, Cassanova McKinzy played a lot more snaps on Saturday and took full advantage. He tied for the first on the team with eight tackles.
It still wasn’t perfect: As dominant as Auburn looked at times, Saturday’s victory didn’t come without mistakes. Marshall gave up his first turnover of the season when he fumbled the ball while trying to elude defenders in the pocket on third and long. The turnover didn’t prove too costly as the defense held Arkansas State to a field goal, but Florida’s Jeff Driskel can tell you that that teams are not always that lucky. The other troubling stat was penalties. Auburn had nine penalties for 91 yards, including a targeting call that led to the ejection of linebacker Kris Frost. By rule, Frost will now have to miss the first half of Saturday's game against Mississippi State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
7hCraig Haubert and Tom Luginbill
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5dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough