Earlier in the week we looked at the possibilities for each outcome of the final month of the season, whether that be 0-4, 1-3, 2-2, 3-1, 04 (be still, my heart) 4-0. Auburn’s last four games will be the toughest stretch of the season by far, mostly because of the final two road trips. Will anything come easy to the Tigers after Halloween? Let’s look a little deeper at the four remaining opponents.
AUBURN vs TEXAS A&M - 11/3/18
It’s another morning kickoff from Jordan-Hare Stadium as the Aggies come in licking their wounds. Texas A&M took a beating in Starkville that looked a lot like what happened to Auburn a few weeks ago. Mississippi State took down the Aggies 28-13, with Nick Fitzgerald clinching it on a long touchdown run late. The Bulldog defense stifled Kellen Mond and the rest of the A&M attack, limiting them to just 293 total yards.
A&M ran for just 61 yards on 22 carries, and the vaunted run defense couldn’t slow down the Bulldogs all that well, allowing about 4.5 yards per carry. After A&M played Alabama closer than anyone else this season, and nearly beat Clemson at home, many were saying that the Aggies were one of the top teams in the SEC.
I think it’s pretty clear that they’re just another member of the middle class in the SEC. The three wins that followed the Alabama loss (over Arkansas, Kentucky, and South Carolina) came by a combined 16 points, and all came down to the wire. A&M’s claim to fame this season is playing Clemson close. That’s it. They’re just 63rd in scoring, but 27th in total yards, and they’ve won sloppy, close ballgames in their three SEC victories. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we see another one of those types of games this coming Saturday, but at home Auburn has to feel fairly good after watching what happened last night in Starkville.
AUBURN @ GEORGIA - 11/10/18
Georgia rebounded from their blowout at LSU with a nice win over Florida, running away in the end to make the final score less indicative of exactly how tough this game really was.
The Bulldogs ended up winning 36-17 yesterday over Florida, but if you watched the game, you know that it wasn’t quite so easy. Georgia got some big plays and benefited greatly from Gator turnovers, but there were many times that the Bulldogs absolutely couldn’t move the ball. Florida stood tall at the goal line and took Georgia’s manhood late in the third quarter, but the Gator offense isn’t exactly Dan Mullen’s old Tebow attack.
There’s just something about this Georgia team that’s missing from last year’s national runner-up. They’ve got all the talent in the world, but maybe missing a Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Roquan Smith gives a hit in the leadership department. In the one game they’ve played against the West, they got drilled. Let’s hope it happens once more in a couple weeks.
AUBURN vs LIBERTY - 11/17/18
I was a little scared when I first saw the Flames on the schedule. They’re not terrible, and when you get this matchup sandwiched right between road trips to Athens and Tuscaloosa, it really could be tough. Add in the fact that Gus flat out doesn’t care about these warmup games before the Iron Bowl, and Liberty gave me a little uneasiness.
I’m not that worried anymore. They’re just 4-3 overall, and the trip to Auburn will be the third straight road game for Turner Gill’s bunch. The defense is bad (34.9 ppg allowed, 239 rushing yards per game allowed), and so Auburn shouldn’t have to worry about being able to move the ball with any difficulty. Last season against Louisiana-Monroe, the Warhawks did move the ball in the first half before Auburn stood tall, and Liberty’s attack is pretty good too. Against teams with a pulse, however, they’ve only averaged less than fifteen points per game in contests with Army, North Texas, and Troy.
It should be an easy victory for Auburn where they won’t need to show anything for the following week.
AUBURN @ ALABAMA - 11/24/18
We talked about Alabama in the article linked above, and we’re going to try and sugar coat is as much as we can. They just haven’t played anyone. Of the eight wins, the combined record for their opponents is 29-36, and we’ll see the first real test for the Tide this coming Saturday at LSU. It’ll definitely be the first real defense that Alabama plays, and so the entire country’s going to get a good look at what might happen when they inevitably make the playoff.
No, nobody’s thinking that Auburn will waltz into Tuscaloosa and win at this point in time, but with the way they’ve been treated as this invincible team, it reeks of how everyone characterized USC in 2005... before they lost. There’s still very little real information about Alabama, and I think we’ll all learn a ton this coming weekend.
However you cut it, November’s going to be tough. Auburn can play well and end up with just one win because of the difficulty of the schedule. On the flip side, three of these games are winnable when you look at them on a surface level. Let’s make all four winnable. War Eagle.