Greetings, Auburn Tiger fans, Oscar Whiskey is back again, and this season is moving right along into the its final third. As we all know, our Tigers currently sit with a 7-1 record and have maintained their No. 11 spot in the BCS standings. If you're anything like me, you probably ask yourself after every game so far this season, "What was going on with this team last year?" I look through the roster and think to myself, "Were they just that young?" My mind begins to wander and I look toward the easy answers (e.g. the coaching was that poor, the external incidents were that distracting, there was no chemistry or life in that team). However, I don't like to think in such a manner because that's how I end up with the orange and blue blockers appear on my face and I make ridiculous statements like "No, these are top quality athletes, they should have succeeded despite such adversity. Whatever it was that was really holding this team back is, at this point in time, not affecting Auburn this season, which is more than a relief, because it would have been a crime against football to let it continue and waste the talent these players possess.
Everyone says the following phrase week in and week out: Auburn's improved, but the Tigers are not there yet. I don't know if this is a defense mechanism as if we are expecting last season to rise from the grave to pursue us back into that cold, dark night of defeat (Happy Halloween, by the way). Or maybe it's a preemptive/practiced coping mechanism for that potential second loss so we can say to ourselves, "Yeah, I knew that was going to happen sooner or later. It's OK, we're still growing as a team, and next year we're only going to be better." I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that line of thinking, other than I'd prefer not to have those feelings or thoughts. But I can't tell you how to think or feel -- not yet at least.
The Braggart of Prophetstown
I'm just going to come out and be honest; I don't care about Bret Bielema. I straight up don't care about him. I don't care about what he said at SEC Media Days. I don't care that he took issue with Auburn's video sharing or the lack thereof. I cannot, for the life of me, however, figure out why so many of you are upset about him. In fact, if you should be feeling any emotion in regard to Coach Bielema, it should be gratitude.
"Gratitude?! You want me to express 'gratitude' towards that fat, pompous, middle-aged-Butthead-look-alike? Why on earth should I ever do that?!" you may be saying out loud at this moment. Why? Because this is why.
No. 18 Wisconsin vs No. 1 Ohio State 2010 Highlights (via Arman Belding)
Yep, back on Oct. 16, 2010, the Wisconsin Badgers beat the No. 1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, 30-14, in Madison. If this game had gone the Buckeyes' way, Auburn could have been left out of the national title game yet again. So thanks, Bert, really appreciate the assist.
Second Trimester Review - Anything Could Happen
In eighteen different statistical categories, the Auburn Tigers rank fifth or better among SEC teams. In 11 of those said categories, our Tigers rank third or better, four of which Auburn is ranked first (rush offense, tackles for loss, opponent long punt return plays and PATs). I don't even have to look to know that Auburn probably didn't even come close to anything like that last year. It's a hell of a difference and one that is plain to see.
I would love to see our quarterback(s) and receivers connect more consistently, but even that has gotten better as the year has progressed. I think about this team and I smile. I no longer get annoyed about what took place last year. I simply tell myself, "None of that matters anymore; this team has moved on and so shall I." I do find myself at times thinking this year will be the first that will lead to another run of dominance, and I have to do my darnedest to snap back to reality. It just feels so good to see this team do well again. Right now, Auburn is playing the role of 2012 Texas A&M: No one was expecting it and no one gave it much thought, but when it happened, we were all stunned. Aggie fans all over walked into this season, just expecting it all to fall right into place with a big, shiny, crystal football as its centerpiece. That hasn't worked out for them, thus far, and there's potential it might not work out for Auburn either.
I mentioned last week the importance of tempering our expectations for the remainder of the season, and I maintain that sentiment. I'm not worried about how our Tigers will do against Arkansas, but if you gave me the choice, I wouldn't have a problem in skipping this game. I just don't like playing the Razorbacks and I don't like how it seems they have Auburn's number recently in the series between the two teams. Please don't mistake my displeasure for lack of confidence in this Auburn team. There's no doubt in my mind our Tigers will win, just like there was no doubt that Auburn would beat TAMU; it is just the nerves speaking.
Four games to go and this latest college football regular-season campaign for the Auburn Tigers will be over. It is almost unfair in regard to how brief the season is, but the ride thus far has been a great one. As of this moment, I'm not dreading the season's end but I'm not ready for it to be this close to the finish, either. These four games, though, will decide just how great this Auburn team is. If the Tigers maintain and Gus and Co. continue to prepare and build for the finale, all that BS and suffering these guys put up with last year will be a distant memory. Four games, though, way too much can happen in four games. I'm ready for anything. Are you?
More from College and Magnolia:
- College football viewing guide, Week 10
- Auburn vs. Arkansas: TV schedule, key players and more
- Auburn Tigers in the NFL: Week 8
- Undercover Barner: Hogs and kisses
- Gus Malzahn unsure of Nick Marshall's status vs. Arkansas