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The Best Is Still To Come

"We came out and hit them in the mouth early and didn't look back. Our guys never hesitated."

Listening to Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino utter those words following Saturday's beat down of Auburn felt like being punched in the face by the president of the high school chess club. You really don't know what's worse, the pain or the embarrassment.  

The Auburn offense spent the first half of its weekend in the Ozarks being as invisible as Auburn President Jay Gogue on the day Gene Chizik was named head coach.  Apparently daylight to the Auburn offense is like Kryptonite to Superman.

Over the past 48 hours, there's been a mass exodus of fans jumping off the Auburn bandwagon. The message boards have been lit up with those who believe the best of this season has come and gone.

To them, I say, good riddance. 

Saturday's loss was ugly.  It was uninspiring on so many fronts. But it wasn't a return to 2008. This Auburn team is talented and well coached. But it's also young and even worse, thin in critical places. It's far from great, but it's much better than anyone dreamed it would be a few months ago.

A win on Saturday against Kentucky will make the Tigers 6-1 on the season heading to Baton Rouge the following week. Who expected as much two months ago? Can any of us ask for much more?

When the second half of the season kicks off Saturday night, Auburn will find the going a lot tougher. Wins will be harder to find. Injuries are starting to become an issue in critical places and the schedule begins to look more like the AFC West than the SEC West.

Auburn's season has been built on emotion.  Every win has been like opening a new gift at Christmas - mostly unexpected and crazily exciting. It's no wonder the hangover hit around midday Saturday. This Auburn team is better than the one that showed up in Fayetteville and perhaps not as good as the one who whipped Lane Kiffin a week earlier. Emotion does that to young teams.

I said before the season started that Auburn would likely beat someone it shouldn't and lose to someone it should have handled. As bad as the beating was at the hands of the Razorbacks, Auburn is still the better team - just not this past Saturday.

Before the final whistle this season Auburn will beat someone better than them.  It may happen in Baton Rouge or at home against Ole Miss or maybe even the Iron Bowl. But rest assured, it will happen.

Those who believe Auburn has only two victories left in them (Kentucky and Furman), think again. Ted Roof's defense, while being decimated with injuries literally by the minute, will find a way to keep Auburn in games. Gus Malzahn and the Auburn offense will retool.

Despite Saturday's loss, this season still has a special feel to it. No, Auburn will likely not be bowling on New Year's Day - but they will still be practicing in December - laying the foundation for better days down the road. I get the feeling this season still has a lot of excitement ahead. These players and coaches haven't thrown in the towel and neither should true Auburn fans.

The best is yet to come.