Talking about expectations for Auburn’s 2010 football season is tricky.
On the one hand, we’re still not even two years removed from 5-7–and being three points away from 0-8 in the SEC–and a contentious, awkward coaching transition. We’re not yet three years removed from the recruiting disaster of 2008; in fact, this is arguably the first Auburn team more talented, top-to-bottom, than its predecessor since 2004. In terms of the typical, natural progression of a rebuilding SEC team, it’s too soon to expect big things.
Then again, when you’ve got Gus Malzahn, one of the nation’s best offensive lines, a collection of skill position talent equal to almost anyone’s in the SEC, some modicum of both talent and depth defensively, and–critically–as forgiving a home/road scheduling split as you can get in this league, why be typical? In terms of the opportunity offered by both the talent and schedule, Auburn’s perfectly justified in expecting big things.
So … where does that leave us? I think all Auburn fans would agree with the team itself that a final tally of eight “ain’t enough,” but what if it’s eight in the regular season and a ninth in a bowl? Are we happy with that? With nine either way? Is it 10 wins or bust? What about the West division title–do we have enough of a team to feel legitimately disappointed if that doesn’t happen? If Auburn goes 10-2 and gets nudged out of Atlanta by tiebreaker, that’s a successful season, right?
Me, I haven’t made up my mind about all that. I can see scenarios where I’m deliriously happy with 9-4. I can see scenarios where I’m tragically disappointed in 10-3, maybe even a smidge upset by 11-2. Why? Because this season, it’s not just about how many teams Auburn beats. It’s about who Auburn beats.
Sure, 2007 wasn’t so bad; it had the Florida upset, The Index Finger on the Opposite Hand, the shutdown of McFadden and Jones in Fayetteville. Likewise, 2009 has a lot to recommend it: the giddy 5-0 start, the resuscitation against Ole Miss, the Great Escape in the Outback Bowl, the general resurgence of Auburn as a team that must be taken seriously. But pleasant enough as they were, you combine those two seasons with the near-total washout of 2008, and what you are left with is a ton of unfinished business for 2010. Wins against Florida and Tennessee are awful, awful nice–there’s too much history between our program and theirs for them not to be–but when it comes to annual rivalries, most Auburn fans would agree that there are four games that matter (matter matter) on the schedule each and every season.
What Auburn has accomplished of late in those four games:
vs. Arkansas: Lost three of the last four. Of those three defeats, all three came with Auburn favored; two came in Jordan-Hare; two came with Auburn entering the game undefeated; two were uncompetitive in the fourth quarter.
vs. LSU: Lost three straight, and four of five. Most recent loss came by 21 points against arguably weakest LSU team of Saban/Miles era.
vs. Georgia. Lost four straight. ’09 seniors graduated without having ever defeated Georgia. Average margin of Dawg victory over that span: 14.5 points. Points allowed by Auburn in those four games: 37, 45, 17, 31. Five-game lead in the all-time series now down to one.
vs. Alabama. Not as bad here: Auburn is still 6-2 in the last eight, still over .500 over the last five. And the 2009 meeting proved the ’08 whitewashing was a fluke. Still, though: lost two straight. Against Alabama.
Put all of that together, and you’re left with an 0-8 record against our biggest rivals over the past two seasons, and a 2-10 mark since 2007. Auburn hasn’t gone over .500 against the four of them since 2005.
This is where Gene Chizik must show improvement, and where he must show it this season. 2011 will be fun with all the new talent on the field, but fun or not the odds of that team being as strong as this year’s–after losing 4/5ths of the offensive line, up to six members of the front seven, possibly 3/4s of the secondary–are slim indeed. Also: the first three teams on this list all come to Jordan-Hare this year. They may or may not also have their own holes to patch in ’11, but nonetheless, the iron is hot now. It’s time for Auburn to strike back.
And so this, ultimately, is how I feel the 2010 season will be judged. After 2008, I can forgive a year spent simply getting competitive against the better teams in the SEC. I’m not sure, with the team and the staff and the schedule Chizik has at his disposal in 2010, I can forgive not turning that competitiveness into wins. If we want to become a legitimate challenger in the SEC West, we have to beat the Hogs and Bayou Bengals. If we want to preserve some measure of self-dignity in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, we’ve got to beat the Dawgs. (Please, please, for the love of everything holy, beat the Dawgs.) And, of course, if we want to stave off the advance of evil into the state of Alabama for a year and defend all that is righteous and good, we have to beat the Tide.
These are my expectations, Auburn: beat these guys. Not just one of them. Their scalps belong on our wall again. Do that, and whatever else happens, things are going to be OK.
0-8, eh? No wonder I felt disappointed. You’re right, win these four games & we’re golden. I have heard, unfortunately, that Lee Corso has picked Auburn to be undefeated going into the IB. kiss of death??? Yikes!
Big Sexy says
i don’t think i’m s’posed to have goose bumps from reading a football blog. my boys owe me those scalps. and i WANT my scalps.
we ain’t in the prisoner takin’ business. we in the SEC championship business.
Michiana Tiger says
The worst part of that record is that we had a 14-0 lead in two of these games last year.
Paraphrasing Pat Dye said if you can split with your major rivals on average
and win the rest, you have permanent job security.
And to a very large extent, I agree.
And this is what, you pretty much said also.
I would think this would be a good season with a 2-2 split with the big 4.
A great season with 3-1 vs. big 4.
Off the charts with 4-0 vs big 4, shades of 2004, probably even better.
1-3 vs. big 4, disappointed.
0-4 vs. big 4, hmm where did I leave my torches and pitchfork?…
Buck in Carlotte says
Love it! I want my scalps! Has a nice ring to it! I can hear it now in the pregame hype-up huddle. Cam The Barbarian…. Let’s do this!
Buck in Charlotte says
Darn this blackberry
Thanks for the kind words, guys.
Aubiece, that breakdown is pretty much how I’d do it, though 2-2 paired with two other losses probably isn’t going to get it done for me, unless–maybe–those two come against ‘Bama and Georgia. I’m really hoping for 3-1.
“And when the [Bammer] closes their eyes at night and they’re tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with.”
*Note: I really don’t think Bama fans are Nazis, but it’s fun to go with the theme.
@BigSexy..damn if you don’t say the best things for my heart and ears.
Jerry, I want those damn Dawg scalps, and Beat Bama is my war cry, so let’s just take em all, and the heck with the what anybody else says outside the family!
I really want to hear papa Holtz is running for Florida state senator this year, if you get my drift.
I’m holding my breath for 4-0. I don’t think I can stomach another loss to Arkansas. My family is from Georgia and I’m tired of hearing it from them (plus I grew up liking my Dad’s alma mater GT and I can’t stand Sic’em Dawgs). LSU and Bama, nuff said, they have to be beat.
Alex P in Smyrna G says
Open letter to Coach Chizik:
Please, please beat those damn dogs this year.
Beat them because they can’t spell D-O-G.
I want to drink their tears. Four years has been too long.
I haven’t seen a dog cry any of those sweet tears since that coed looked like she was about die right there in the stands on ESPN while Penn Wagers was diligently working to sort out the “Run-Devin-Run” play in 2005.
I am sick of seeing them smile on Sundays after Auburn games. I want to take their joy and stop it into the mud — preferrably with a hob-nailed boot (whatever the hell that is).
I am sick of finding consolation in their endless losses to the gators. F*ck consolation. I want first prize in the dog whupin contest.
beat. them. in. 2010.
Alex P- -I had gone almost 8 full months without thinking of that most despicable name- -Penn Wagers. I almost can’t type it. I can’t stand that guy. If there is a 50/50 call, it’s going against Auburn. He’s my Red Sox equivalent to Bucky Dent. Penn @#$@# Wagers.
Let’s not forget the Black Out game in Athens … And the CBS crew dancing in the effing booth. I never really hated Dawgs until that game … and the same goes for Piggy Verne.
“….and what you are left with is a ton of unfinished business for 2010”
That is what 2010 is about for me, unfinished business. The days of should’a, would’a, could’a are rightfully over. It is time for results, and I am confident that the Tigers will be unleashing a big bag of revenge around the SEC this year.
End that dog streak they have figuratively dragged across our carpet . Reclaim Auburn’s dominance in Bryant Denny. Give Les Miles and LSU fans what they deserve for, if nothing else, being generally bad people. And stop screwing around with Arkansas and beat them like the lower tier SEC team they are.
And oh yeah, show Clemson that playing in an SEC stadium on a Saturday night really is every bit the horrific nightmarish experience they imagined it would be.
War Damn Eagle.
Yeah, what they said. I’ll take a 4 and Oh with a sprinkle of a Clemson Saturday night drubbing in there…War Eagle
We be da INGLORIOUS BASTARDS……….we know what we want. This is why we join Tigers Unlimeted, why we buy season tickets, why we tailgate on the green, why we send our kids to Auburn and why we read THE WAREAGLE READER. Whew, I think I am getting fird up, JH.
PS I’ll take a Florida State scalp in a bowl game for dessert
I will not be happy with 2-2. and the rational side of me SHOULD be happy with 3-1. But damnit, I want it all. I just can’t stomach the thought of losing to any of these teams.
Arkansas = garbage. Totally overrated. And I think the reason we lose to them so much, is that maybe our team has the same mentality? I can’t recall one time in the last 12 years where I’ve felt they actually had a better team than us, even despite some of the blowout losses. Not this year. We FINALLY get revenge on Petrino.
LSU…Don’t even get me started. We should have a 6 game win streak against them, for real. Their luck runs out soon.
UGA…Again, in their current win streak, I can’t recall a single one of their teams that I actually believe had a better team…08 sure, but we should have won that game if not for the refs screwing us over.
Bama…What a heartbreaker last year. The talent gap might not be completely even just yet, but that changes soon. And with this staff, you gotta love our chances. Bryant Denny will never scare me. We own that stadium.