It’ll be a short edition of Schedule Stockwatch this week–there’s only three teams remaining on Auburn’s slate, and one of them was on a bye. But on we go …
Week 10: Furman. After a strong start, the Paladins have now fallen all the way back to .500 after getting thumped by reigning SoCon overlords Appalachian St., 52-27. 9th-year senior Armanti Edwards was HOT HOT HOT [/obligatory], hitting 25/36 for 355 and two TDs, and Furman found themselves down 21-0 early in the second and 42-13 early in the third.
Worry Level: Flatlined.
Week 11: Georgia. I think by now you know how this went: new “uniforms,” new starting running back, same old Cocktail Party. Kentucky aside, none of Florida’s previous SEC victims–not Tennessee, not Arkansas, not even Miss. St.–had been blasted the way Georgia got blasted by Tebow and Co.
But I happen to think the Dawgs aren’t quite as bad as they’re being made out to be in some quarters. They caught Tennessee and Florida just as both were angry and overdue for a good offensive game. They held serve at home against Carolina (albeit barely), won at Arkansas, and pounded Vandy in a way not even this year’s version of Vandy has been pounded by anyone else. The Florida game wasn’t even a rout in the box score–the Dawgs were within 80 yards of the Gators and would have made it a game if they hadn’t turned the ball over 4 times to Florida’s zero.
Of course, that’s been the Dawgs’ biggest problem all year: Georgia is now a stunning 119th–next-to-last in the country–in turnover margin. If they ever stop giving the ball away, they’ll be a formidable opponent for anyone. But what evidence do we have that they’re going to stop turning the ball over now?
Worry Level: Down.
Week 12: Alabama.
Tide were on a bye.
(Seriously, though, I’m more optimistic about this game than I have been since ever. With The Toro in place, Auburn has some hope of slowing Ingram down the way they did Scott and Dixon, and the Tide don’t have a Devine/McCluster-style burner back there to rip off a quick 70-yard TD. And McElroy has been lost for a while. Our defense should have a fighting chance.
This does not mean I’m optimistic, since the Coachbot spending two weeks preparing for Auburn’s offense is a frightening thought. But it’s something.)
Worry Level: Steady, maybe Down a hare*
The Conquered and the Conquerees
For the first time this season, two previous Auburn opponents squared off against each other, with Miss. St. traveling to Lexington to take on Kentucky. The Bulldogs came away with a 31-24 victory that wasn’t even quite as close as the score indicated–the ‘Cats were outgained by about 180 yards and had to take advantage of multiple short fields (Lee picks, Cobb punt returns, you know the drill) to even have their fourth-quarter shot.
So: Auburn’s drubbing of Miss. St. looks better than ever, but Auburn’s loss to Kentucky looks even less explicable. The Tigers are still responsible for the ‘Cats’ only SEC victory of the season. I think, unfortunately, this result is a net negative for Auburn.
Even worse, West Virginia sullied Auburn’s claim to being the only team to beat the ‘Eers this season by stuttering to a 30-19 loss Friday night in Tampa. Typical stupidity from the ‘Eer braintrust, as Noel Devine got 17 carries (though he ran for just 2.5 per) and Jock Sanders touched the ball … wait for it … three times. Jarrett Brown, only two weeks removed from a concussion, threw 32 times. Good work there, Jeff Mullen.
The hits kept coming in mid-majorville as La. Tech lost a 35-34 heartbreaker on the road at resurgent WAC darlings Idaho. The Bulldogs scored a TD to take a 34-21 fourth quarter lead, then missed the extra point and gave up two TDs in the final six minutes to fall to 3-5 on the year. It was more of the same at Ball St.— despite gaining less than 250 yards for the game, the Cards were up 17-12 in the fourth until a late Ohio touchdown dropped BSU to 1-8.
Now for the good news: Tennessee continued to make Auburn’s win in Knoxville look like the Tigers’ best performance of the year, curb-stomping turnover-happy South Carolina 31-13. The ‘Cocks actually finished the game with more total yards as Jon Crompton took a slight step back from his heroics of the previosu two weeks, but after building 21-0 and 28-6 leads, it’s not like the Vols even needed to break a sweat down the stretch.
Arkansas crushed winless Eastern Michigan 63-27 as Ryan Mallett finished with more TDs (3) than incompletions (2). But it’s Eastern Michigan, so people who should care outside Fayetteville = 0, and I’m not sure the number should be much higher even in Fayetteville. And as little as that game might have told us, LSU‘s 42-0 blasting of Tulane might have told us even less.
The overall picture
The Georgia game is quite clearly back to being a tossup–the way the Dawgs’ defense is playing and with Todd’s mojo repaired, Auburn would probably even have been a favorite if the game had been in J-Hare. Win in Athens, and Auburn finishes with a minimum of 8 wins–half of them coming over likely bowl teams–and a .500 SEC record. That wouldn’t be so shabby.
*Borrowed from commenter Watchman, ’cause it deserved to be.