FOX Sports' Stewart Mandel speculates on Auburn's season
Don’t look now, but the Auburn Tigers (4-2, 2-1) are a team on the rise.
Winners of their last three ballgames, Gus Malzahn’s team has newfound purpose heading into the meat of its conference schedule.
Sophomore running back Kamryn Pettway has galvanized the running game. Pettway has rushed for over 100 yards in three of his past four games — including a 169-yard, three-touchdown effort last weekend in the win over Mississippi State.
FOX Sports columnist Stewart Mandel released his weekly mailbag on Wednesday. One posted asked Mandel whether Auburn may be a bit underrated — especially since both of its losses came against two top-10 programs (Clemson, Texas A&M).
Mandel offered this take:
“While I wouldn’t characterize that A&M loss as “close” — the Aggies never led by fewer than two scores in the fourth quarter — you might be on to something. Auburn, now 4-2, has inspired much more confidence since Gus Malzahn finally settled on Sean White as his full-time quarterback. He’s quietly completed 77 percent of his passes in wins over LSU, Louisiana Monroe and Mississippi State.
Defensively, though, Auburn hasn’t faced an offense with a pulse since that Sept. 17 A&M game, and the Aggies had a lot of success running the ball in a 29-16 win. The Tigers have a bye this week, but I’ll be interested to see how their defense fares against Arkansas in their next game. I think we can agree that Auburn is not going to beat out Alabama or Texas A&M for the SEC West title, but there’s nothing to say the Tigers couldn’t beat out Ole Miss/Arkansas/LSU for third. It’d be a nice improvement from last year’s seventh-place finish and certainly better than most were predicting heading into that Sept. 24 LSU game.”
With the combination of Pettway and White humming, this appears to be a very dangerous team going forward — and certainly one no team should overlook.