Just when things were starting to build toward an epic November in the SEC, Auburn went and blew that fantasy by losing to an average LSU team.
Gus Malzahn did his best to put on a brave face following the 27-23 defeat to LSU Saturday, saying his team “still controls its destiny in the SEC.” While accurate, that statement doesn’t seem to factor in any potential Playoff hopes — which may have been dashed following Auburn’s second defeat of the season.
The Tigers will now likely need to beat both Georgia and Alabama in order to advance to Atlanta. Losing either game, or any others in SEC play, will all but eliminate the Tigers from West contention.
So how did we get here after Auburn appeared to be on track to finish the regular season as one of the nation’s hottest teams? During his Sunday ESPN Campus Conversation podcast, Paul Finebaum noted we should have seen this one coming.
“The big return started it and Gus Malzahn being Gus Malzahn. If you look at Auburn’s losses, and there aren’t that many, the games he loses are usually red zone issues, there’s predictability, quarterback play begins to disintegrate and that exposed Auburn,” Finebaum said on the program.
“We wanted to buy in (to Auburn) but I did wonder to myself, and not that loudly, Auburn has gotten on this run after Clemson by doing what? Beating a bad Missouri team. Beating a mediocre Mississippi State team. They have really not done very much. LSU is barely a good team.”
The SEC Network host went on to speculate on what will happen in the immediate future for Auburn. As Texas A&M continues to improve seemingly each and every week, that game no longer appears to be a guaranteed win for the Tigers.
“Think about this,” Finebaum said, “they go to Arkansas this week — which again, it’s a revenge game, 56-3 last year but what does that mean? Auburn will win by three touchdowns instead of six? Then next week at A&M? Can you tell me who is going to win that game?”
Finebaum then went on to essentially predict the end of the Malzahn era by the end the season. Unless Auburn springs a major upset, or two, it’s hard to argue with Finebaum’s statements.
“If A&M beats Auburn. That’s three losses for Auburn,” Finebaum continued. “They face Georgia and Alabama at home later in the year. Should they lose both, and I know that would mean they lost to Clemson, Alabama and Georgia, those are three classy losses… If they go 7-5, or even 8-4, and that means in five years for Gus Malzahn… In 2013 he had the miracle, the Prayer in Jordan-Hare then the Kick Six. Two of the biggest miracle plays in history, since then, he will have gone 0-8 vs. his two biggest rivals.
“I’m here to tell you that won’t cut it at Auburn.”