Like we alluded to before the bye weekend, it’s always a refreshing feeling watching college football without any sort of real allegiance. You can be a fan, pull for chaos (unless you do that already), and observe from the sidelines as others’ faith and fandom get tested with every play. The Tigers didn’t even play and we saw the team move up to #15 in the Coaches’ Poll, and #16 in the AP Poll.
With Auburn off for the week to prepare for a stretch run that begins next week at Texas A&M, then back home against the now second-ranked Georgia Bulldogs, and finishes after Thanksgiving with the top-ranked Crimson Tide, I think we all needed to watch someone else bear the emotional brunt that only college football can bring.
And boy, was it a good weekend to sit out.
#2 Penn State lost, getting outscored 19-3 in the fourth quarter by Ohio State in a 38-39 defeat.
4th ranked TCU lost at Iowa State (who’s going to be looking for a new coach soon when Matt Campbell books a ticket to a big school — hello, Gainesville).
#14 NC State got crushed by Notre Dame, who looks really good this season, and not just the kind of good that earned them the opportunity to get used by Alabama in 2012.
#15 Washington State fell to Arizona, who’s got a Nick Marshall clone at quarterback right now.
#16 Michigan State also lost in triple overtime against Northwestern.
#17 USF got beat too, ruining a perfect season in Charlie Strong’s first year.
Finally, #22 West Virginia got taken out at home by Oklahoma State.
For Auburn, who sat at #19 this week while idle, it was the perfect group of teams ahead of them falling. We got the bump because four of the five teams right in front lost. Beat Texas A&M this weekend, and the Tigers will be 7-2, likely jumping up another couple of spots at least. There’s also the possibility of another chaos-type weekend due to the matchups we’ll see. Check it out — week 10 has several games guaranteed to down a ranked team.
#7 Penn State @ #24 Michigan State
#6 Clemson @ #20 NC State
#14 Iowa State @ West Virginia
#18 Stanford @ #25 Washington State
#8 Oklahoma @ #11 Oklahoma State
Texas @ #10 TCU
#15 UCF @ SMU
#19 LSU @ #1 Alabama
#13 Virginia Tech @ #9 Miami
Oregon @ #12 Washington
A perfect weekend for Auburn would see Penn State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, TCU, UCF, Washington, and either VT/Miami lose. With the natural bump from a win, that might move Auburn up to #8 or #9 in the country, just in time for a huge game at home against Georgia.
After this weekend, there are only a few teams left in play for the playoff, and some think that Auburn’s still one of them.
I figure 6 teams control their @CFBPlayoff destiny: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame & Oklahoma. Everyone else needs help.— Ivan Maisel (@Ivan_Maisel) October 29, 2017
He’s absolutely right. How could you leave out Auburn if the Tigers beat #2 Georgia, #1 Alabama, and then a presumably top five Georgia team again in Atlanta?
Yes, that’s looking way, way out in the future, but it’s just to illustrate that the goals for this season are all still on the table. A conference title is definitely there (let’s be real, LSU ain’t beating Bama), and if you win out you’re in for the playoff.
With that in mind, there’s no excuse for Auburn not to be laser-focused this weekend in College Station. We’ve been through this before, where a mediocre Aggie team possums around the week before and then punches us in the nose when we least expect it. Gus’ career basically turned on that Texas A&M game in 2014, and this is a chance to reestablish control a little bit. To do any of the things we mentioned above, you have to win this weekend at A&M, and it shouldn’t be difficult.
Mississippi State threw the Aggies around last night, winning 35-14 and never really getting threatened. A&M didn’t break 300 yards offensively, Kellen Mond threw a pair of interceptions, and allowed 228 rushing yards to the Bulldogs. We saw that MSU team — they were not very good. This should be easy.
Should. Let’s see how Gus and company handle it.
It’s about to be November, and everything’s about to change.