Tuesday, November 20, 2012

IRON BOWL '12: Atrocious Tigers take final swing

With one game remaining in the 2012 regular season, the only thing that stands between Alabama and a birth in the SEC championship game, is quite possibly the worst Auburn team in program history.

While the “Iron Bowl” is, and will always be, one of the most storied rivalries in college football, the current momentum favors Alabama. The Crimson Tide have won three of the previous four meetings, lead the all-time series 41-34-1, and will enter the 77th clash favored by more than 30 points.

As for the Auburn Tigers, the 2012 season has been atrocious. AU has a record of 3-8, with all three victories courtesy of “pay wins” against Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, and Alabama A&M. In fact, the Tigers were taken to overtime by LA-Monroe, so things could actually be worse, as difficult as that is to imagine.

Auburn has talent, but lack of cohesion and player development within the current system have been the most glaring issues. The Tigers have used a total of three quarterbacks this season, and the third selection, Jonathan Wallace, is the current starter. Both Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley each had a turn at the offense, but failed miserably. When the third-stringer is the best option, someone has failed to analyze talent.

In respect to the offense as a whole, the Tigers are more “traditional” thanks to new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. Running backs Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb have been utilized in the more conventional sense under the new system. In respect to productivity, Mason, one of the best running backs in the SEC, is only 80 rushing yards shy of 1,000 for the season. The duo of Mason and McCalebb have combined for 14 of Auburn’s 16 rushing touchdowns in 2012.
While the quarterback position has been a revolving door, Emory Blake has been as solid as ever at wide receiver. Blake leads AU in receiving with 47 receptions for 733 yards, including three touchdowns. When it comes to the “deserves better” category, look no further than one of the most productive receivers in recent Auburn history.
Although one could attempt to “deeply analyze” this contest, it would arguably only be done to promote the rivalry, not the individual game. Auburn has three victories on the season, each of them coming in the aforementioned “pay win” fashion. Oddly enough, the 2012 edition of the “Iron Bowl” is shaping up to be a “pay win” for Alabama.

At this stage in the season, Auburn could just as easily pass themselves off as UAB or any other lower-tier FBS program. Alabama is a great team, and quite possibly the best team in college football, but the 77th “Iron Bowl” requires no additional talk, not because Alabama is the best thing since Thanksgiving turkey, but simply because Auburn…is that bad.

Come Saturday night, Alabama will be SEC Western Division champs, and the Auburn Tigers will be looking for a new head coach, and a new identity.

Alabama 45
Auburn 7

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