In preparation for Saturday’s season-opener between San Jose State and Auburn, Saturday Down South is taking a look at the key matchups that may decide the showdown between the Spartans and Tigers.

Auburn special teams vs. San Jose State special teams

Special teams could turn out to be a huge key in tomorrow’s contest against San Jose State.

In their opening-week win against North Dakota, the Spartans’ defense was able to get off the field on 3rd down, holding North Dakota to just 33 percent on 3rd downs. Conversely, San Jose State had no problem converting 3rd downs to extend drives last week, going 7-11.

Field position will be huge if San Jose State hopes to stay in the game past the second quarter.

Auburn has a talented specialist in redshirt freshman Daniel Carlson, who served as both place kicker and punter in the Tigers’ season-opening win against Arkansas. Auburn has long had one of the SEC’s special teams units, and can really put San Jose State in a tough position when (or if) they kick the ball away.

San Jose State averaged just 3.8 yards per rush against an FCS opponent last week. If the Spartans get pinned back deep in their own end of the field, it will be tough for them to move the ball against an Auburn defense who looks to improve greatly this week.