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TAKES. VOLUME FOUR. FOURTH EDITION.

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What an utterly bizarre performance to base TAKES on.

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn lost. It finds itself at 2-2 with Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama still on its schedule.

- So the best case scenario is 6-6? If Auburn is lucky? Yeah, probably. And that may be a stretch at this point. Everyone knows that. It's nice for me, because I live in Birmingham and Legion Field is just down the street. I'd love to show off my adopted hometown to Auburn friends and family from across the state and region. I'll show you a good time! It's totally not the Birmingham you remember! Now, I argue that our culinary scene is the thing, but the lady I talk to (who is a chef from Boston) argues that it's our music. No matter - a weekend here is plenty of time for me to show off both of them! The Magic City is a perfect weekend trip. You can spend three days in the greatest city in Alabam' and want more. "That sure went quickly!" you'll say aloud to yourself after gorging yourself on delicious smoked pork and catching a show at Iron City, Workplay or Saturn. "Gosh, I sure wish we had another day!" you'll continue.

No you don't. Three days in Birmingham is fantastic. You'll leave and write on your Blogspot about how Birmingham is a hidden gem of the South. And we'll revel in that. You'll get aggregated into some major news site. "This guy at CamelCash.net says Birmingham is great!

Four days is too much. Which is why the Birmingham Bowl is usually on a Saturday and you can do the trip without taking vacation days.

IT'S NICE TO HAVE YOU IN BIRMINGHAM.*

- Candies, nuts, et. al. - If Sean White doesn't throw the interception on the first drive? But what if there isn't the bad snap on that drive that followed? Yeah, that's right. And further, the playcall to send Jeremy Johnson out on that Power-I-ish thing that Mississippi State ruined with a timeout was perfect. Totally different game.

It just didn't work out.

Auburn lost. They didn't almost win. They didn't beat themselves. They lost. But Sean White looked immensely more comfortable than Jeremy Johnson. He proved himself more than a "pocket passer" when he had two pretty great executions of the read option. It was promising. Will Muschamp's defense turned something on in the second half and looked, dare I say, great. Aside from a missed field goal, special teams was very good. All three phases.

It's the best total performance that Auburn has had in 2015. A mediocre performance was enough to defeat Louisville and FCS Jacksonville State. But a good performance wasn't enough to beat a decent Mississippi State team.

There still isn't quit in this team. Yet. They're improving. Defense is improving much quicker than offense, but they're improving. I never thought that the problem would be a Gus Malzahn offense, but here we are.

- A Little Less 2012, A Little More 2003 - I didn't feel compelled to simply draw a photo of stick figures scrambling away from a dumpster fire, as I did after the 2012 Arkansas game when I was, literally, at a loss for words. I have some words. I'm not encouraged, but I'm not defeated. This season has the trappings of 2003. It has "big time hype; not really that good" all over it.

It doesn't have, "absolute trainwreck/dumpster fire - someone's head has to roll" all over it.

But Bobby Lowder couldn't distinguish between those two, so who knows?

If Auburn wins more than six games, it would be pretty miraculous at this point. That's the bar. They should beat San Jose State and Idaho, and maybe...just maybe...they can beat Arkansas and Kentucky. Anything beyond that is some kind of salvage.

But right now, the problem seems to be  lack of creativity, an abandonment of what worked on offense. Maybe the Gus Malzahn tenure is like Bush (the band, not the president, the other president, the Republican candidate or the shrub). Maybe there's "SIXTEEN STONE!!!!! YESSSSSSSS THIS IS THE BESSSST!!!!!!"

Then Razorblade Suitcase. "Meh. This is alright. I can get behind Greedy Fly."

Then just a big time poop show. Idk.

Or maybe it's Hootie and the Blowfish. "CRACKED REAR VIEW. BOOM. I AM IN. THIS IS THE BEST EVER."

"Fairweather Johnson? I like this a lot! It isn't commercially successful but maybe it's a better product! Who knows?"

Then some other stuff that's kind of okay for a while. Then some time off. Then an AWESOME SOLO CAREER PLAYING THE HITS. WAGGGGOOOONNNNNN WHEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL [route]

Year three is going to be the worst in the Malzahn catalog. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have a hit left in him. Or maybe he can find an Old Crow Medicine Show tune and make it work for him.

*for three days. This is awesome, right? Now it's day four. Get on your flight before your blogpost changes.