This is our next-to-last edition of the Schedule Stockwatch for 2009. All good things, they say. Or, alternatively, they also say that it’s darkest before the dawn.
Anyways, we’re down to just one team in our Worry Level updates:
Week 12: Alabama. OK, so after the Tennessee game I kind of wanted ‘Bama to arrive at the Iron Bowl undefeated–the higher the stakes for them, the more positive attention Auburn gets in the event of a good performance. But if I didn’t want Miss. St. actually knocking the Tide off, I was hoping they’d expose some kind of vulnerability, offer some kind of renewed hope this thing could happen.
Not so much. It’s one thing for the Tide to have strolled past the Bulldogs so easily on the scoreboard–hell, Auburn managed that much, right?–but a 444-213 yardage margin? Mark Ingram running for nearly 8 a carry? State rushing for 3 yards a carry and throwing for 5 a pass? Ugh. Double-ugh.
And triple-ugh: Greg McElroy is apparently following the Chris Todd plan for 2009, having started off red-hot, cooled off, and come full circle to being a quality quarterback again. Against the Bulldogs he went 13-of-18 for 192 yards (10.7 per), 2 TDs, and no picks. Seeing as how any blueprint for an Auburn victory a week from Friday starts “1. Horrible game from McElroy 2. Horrible game from McElroy 3. Horrible game from McElroy,” it’s particularly dispiriting news.
There’s plenty of time between now and then to break down exactly how screwed Auburn likely is, but unfortunately nothing that happened in Starkville Saturday will help us figure out how screwed Auburn isn’t.
Worry Level: Back to Maximum.
The Conquered and the Conquering*
Auburn’s losses looked ever-so-slightly more palatable this week, as all three Tiger-vanquishers took home wins, albeit against less-than-stiff competition: Kentucky ensured an 0-8 SEC season for Vandy by winning 24-13, Arkansas demolished Troy 56-20, and LSU slogged their way past La. Tech 24-16. It doesn’t mean a heck of a lot, but Auburn can at least say this: they will not have lost to any team that doesn’t make a bowl game this year.
Amongst the conquered, most of the sadder sacks on Auburn’s schedule just got sadder: Ball St. fell to Northern Illinois 26-20 to slip to 1-9, and La. Tech and Miss. St. we’ve already heard from. At least Furman picked up a road win at Georgia Southern.
As for teams Auburn’s beaten that matter, two of them faced off when Ole Miss hosted Tennessee and–you may have heard about this–let Dexter McCluster loose for the kind of showing that would launch him into Heisman consideration if this was a just world. The Rebels now have the honor of having been Auburn’s most impressive victory of the season–I’m sure they’re proud. Rapidly losing luster, though, is Auburn’s triumph over West Virginia–the ‘Eers hardly shamed themselves in losing a controversy-marred 24-21 decision at undefeated Cincinnati, but WVU is now well out of the running in the Big East and with two tough tests still remaining (vs. Pitt, at Rutgers), they’ll be fortunate to find an eighth win.
The overall picture
7-5 it appears to be, and once again I have to think Chizik and Co. are kicking themselves over the Kentucky loss–even after defeat in Athens, the Tigers have broken even (3-3) against teams in the middle/upper reaches of the SEC and their lone nonconference challenger. All they had to do to play New Year’s was beat Kentucky at home.
Dammit to hell.
*This has been “conquerees,” but a commenter correctly pointed out “conquerees” is gramatically the same thing as the “conquered.” So I came up with something different.
Photo via al.com.