There was a bad moon rising over Jordan Hare this time a year ago.
War Eagle, everybody! It's cupcake week at Auburn. The Florida Atlantic Owls arrive with perhaps the most putrid offensive statistics in all of college football. In two games so far this season, the Owls have averaged only 92.5 offensive yards per game, and have only scored three points. That's three points TOTAL, not per game. Auburn's defense this season has yet to give up less than 448 yards in a game this season, so something has to give this week.
You would think that a school mired in such a woeful state would be concerned about improving against Auburn. Or celebrating the last season of legendary head coach and FAU football program creator Howard Schnellenberger. Heading over to the FAU athletic website reveals something far different.
The Owls are all about flushing toilets.
(FAU Stadium Super Flush (via FAUSportsVideos))
What a difference a year makes. This time last fall, we were sweltering in the grip of a summer that wouldn't quit. Auburn's 4th gameday of the season was a stifling affair, with ridiculous humidity and heat in the mid 90s. I hit Toomer's for lemonade more than once that day. The 2010 Auburn Tigers had yet to give any clue of what was to come later in the season. We had been cooked on defense giving up 26 points to Arkansas State, barely held on against Mississippi State, and the Clemson game had been an abomination. Somehow, we had miraculously survived in overtime, but it was purely a lucky win. As War Eagle Atlanta and I sat in the stands in Section 8, there was a bad moon rising over Jordan Hare, and we were losing to South Carolina 20-7 in the second quarter. I think many folks were wondering if Auburn would get to a bowl game in 2010 at that point.
As we all know, 2010 turned around dramatically. Auburn turned it on, and outscored the Gamecocks 28-7 down the stretch. The Tigers kept winning, often having to come from behind. The season culminated in the largest blowout win in SEC Title Game history, and a BCS National Championship. The last part of the 2010 season was a far cry from its beginnings.
The 2011 season won't produce a championship, at least not this year. However, I'm confident that these players and these coaches can and will turn things around. They have a track record for doing exactly that. Despite a roster situation not of their own making, this coaching staff has engineered similar turnarounds before. In 2009, this staff and team faced a stretch that included blow-out losses to Arkansas and LSU surrounded by a loss at home to Kentucky. The team rebounded to finish with a New Year's Day bowl win. The 2010 team overcame a shaky start and big holes against Clemson and South Carolina. It also survived a 24-0 deficit in Tuscaloosa.
Fact is that we've yet to see Coach Chizik and company NOT solve problems as the season progresses. I think that will be the case this year, too. Don't be surprised if the team makes progress from week to week, then takes a step or two backward. It's a young team, but it's a team loaded with future superstars. It's going to be a squad that makes much noise in the SEC West for years to come.
As always, we'll have an open thread up Saturday for the FAU game. We'll be here with our usual play by play and Auburn celebratory antics. This game will be played at 6:00 PM Central Time, and it's on Fox Sports Net. It should be an enjoyable TV crew to listen to. The lead announcer Bob Rathbun is quite a character, and provides colorful play by play. Tim Couch is an adequate analyst. As always, feel free to join in and celebrate Auburn football with us! Fall will be over before we know it.