AUBURN | Anybody out there anticipating a detailed analysis of Auburn's last out-of-conference game, I'm going to disappoint you today.
Other than noting with appreciation that the Tigers once again did exactly what they should have done in efficiently dispatching an over-matched opponent, there's really not much else to say.
Yes, it's notable that Auburn amassed more than 600 yards of offense for the third consecutive game -- something that had never happened before in the previous 120 seasons of Tiger football. Yes, Jeremy Johnson had another solid outing in relief of mildly-injured quarterback Nick Marshall.
Auburn completely smothered the Owls in all three phases of the game, which is exactly what a top SEC team ought to have done to a directional (okay, geographic) weak sister.
And that, of course, is the important thing. Two-thirds of the way through their inaugural season, Gus Malzahn and his staff have already pulled off a turn-around the likes of which there's scarcely any precedent.
Pat Dye's first team was night-and-day tougher than Doug Barfield's last, but the 1981 squad mirrored its predecessor in the final record with an 5-6 finish. Tommy Tuberville's 1999 team recovered nicely from the 3-8 wreckage of Terry Bowden's abortive final season, but lost its starting quarterback for several games and also slipped to 5-6.
You could look at 1993 and have a point.
Dye's last squad in 1992 was an underachiever, falling short in games it should have won against Arkansas, Mississippi State and Georgia while still notching top-5 statistical rankings for defensive play. It takes nothing away from Terry Bowden's 11-0 accomplishment in 1993 to note that Dye left Bowden a stable full of thoroughbreds who just needed direction; like this year, the real problems were between the ears as opposed to between the lines.
I would say the best comparison in modern AU history is probably Gene Chizik's respectable 8-5 finish in 2009, coming off of a horrid 5-7 2008 season that ended Tuberville's tenure.
Still, bad losses to Arkansas, LSU and Georgia (that team was impacted by an injured starting QB--something everyone ought to recall seriously today) prevented the Tigers from advancing past a brief midseason appearance at No. 17 in the AP poll.
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