Published September 6, 2012 - 11:12am
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Auburn makes the trip to Starkville this weekend, and there may be more at stake than a simple (simple?) win in the SEC west.
Gene Chizik and the Tigers will attempt to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2003, when it finished a respectable 8-5. A loss at Mississippi State, and the 2012 season could end as anything but respectable. It could get downright ugly.
While it doesn’t seem likely that simply winning on Saturday will be a definite indicator of how good this team may be, it would give Auburn a sense of relief, if only in knowing it is not 0-2.
After the Tigers tangle with the Bulldogs on Saturday, the schedule gets a bit more arduous. Auburn’s next three games will be at home, but after the September 15 game with Louisiana Monroe (no offense Warhawks), Auburn will be tested mightily against LSU (Sep. 22) and Arkansas (Oct. 6).
If my math is correct, the Tigers could be looking at a 1-4 record by the time they have to hit the road over in Oxford to play Ole Miss on October 13. And if Auburn limps into Oxford at 1-4, who knows how bad it could get?
The Tigers would still have to face a vastly improved Vanderbilt team, Texas A&M comes calling, and let’s not forget a couple of nice ones to wrap the season up against Georgia and at Alabama.
Auburn could very well be an underdog in all four of those matchups.
There are fans and members of the media alike that have long been whispering that Gene Chizik isn’t much of a head coach anyway. He had Cam Newton. He had Nick Fairly. He caught lightning in a bottle. We’ve all heard it, and some of us have said it.
Others still say give him time. He has two new coordinators; two new systems. The team is still relatively young and inexperienced. We’ve all heard it, and some of us have said it.
To whichever theory you subscribe, after Saturday, you may change your tune.
If Auburn falls, the naysayers will get louder, and the supporters could grow fewer. With a win, the doomsayers will still be around, but it might appease them, knowing the Tigers should be no worse than 2-2 after the LSU game. With an Arkansas team that has taken some heat over its current coaching situation, a .500 Auburn team could garner some hope that it could give the Razorbacks a run.
I’m getting off track, and it’s so simple, really.
Mississippi State has had this game circled since last year, and Auburn should take note. The Bulldogs have challenged Auburn, whether on or off the record, and Gene Chizik must have his squad ready to accept.
If not, the 2012 season could out of hand, and quickly.