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Auburn football: Closer look at Tigers' game today at Kentucky

No. 8 Auburn (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at Kentucky (3-2, 0-2 SEC), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Line: Auburn by 6.

Series Record: Auburn leads 24-6-1

What’s at Stake

Auburn will try to avoid the midseason slump that ruined its 5-0 start last year. A win would keep the Tigers unbeaten at the season’s halfway point, with home games against Arkansas and LSU ahead. Kentucky hopes to start a three-game SEC homestand on the right foot after losing its first two.

Key Matchup

Auburn has stuffed the run this year, giving up 92.8 yards per game, the 12th-best mark in the country. But Kentucky has two of the most dynamic players in the SEC in running back Derrick Locke and wide receiver Randall Cobb, who gashed the Tigers’ defense last year for 235 rushing yards.

Players to Watch

Auburn: RB Mario Fannin returned from a shoulder injury to run for 89 yards and a touchdown against Louisiana-Monroe last week. The Tigers will use him most as a pass-catching option out of the backfield.

Kentucky: QB Mike Hartline missed last year’s game with a knee injury but has been sharp this season, throwing eight touchdown passes. His 1,222 passing yards are second-most in the SEC.

Facts & Figures

Kentucky’s win last year at Auburn snapped a 15-game losing streak in the series that dated back to 1966. … Auburn hasn’t traveled to Lexington, Ky., since 2005, when it won 49-27 as Kenny Irons rushed for three touchdowns. … The Tigers have won their past seven games in Lexington. … Auburn QB Cam Newton is second nationally in pass efficiency (191.44) and fourth in the SEC in rushing (474 yards). He is on pace to be the first player in SEC history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season. … Kentucky has the SEC’s best passing defense (141.8 ypg) but the second-worst rushing defense (166.2 ypg). … Wildcats WR Chris Matthews’ five touchdown receptions lead the SEC.

— Andy Bitter

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