By Shane from Centerpoint
Separation Saturday has always been a day when the best SEC football teams begin to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. The competition gets brutal and every game presents an atmosphere filled with urgency. Survival of fittest becomes realistic fact.
The Auburn Tigers traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas, undefeated and ranked 17th in the country. War Eagle faithful entered the stadium expecting to see a BCS bowlâ€“type performance. Instead Gene Chizik delivered a product that cloned the lackluster offensive and poor defensive efforts of former coach Tommy Tubervilleâ€™s 2008 squad.
Losing â€œbigâ€ to a 2-2 Arkansas team – whose coach Auburn once coveted enough to cut a deal behind Tubervilleâ€™s back â€“ is a hard dose of reality for the Auburn â€œfamilyâ€. By the way, Tuberville predicted Auburn to beat Arkansas by three TDâ€™s (a little bit of animosity there?). Chizikâ€™s coaching staff appeared to be dazed and confused, while Petrinoâ€™s assistants had apparently prepared their players for the kill.
Have you ever seen a hog slaughter a tiger?
In fact Auburnâ€™s offense made the Arkansas defense look much better than it really is (having allowed 52 points to Georgia), while the Tiger defenders are probably still trying to catch Michael Smith. By the way, this Tiger defense may go down as the worst in the history of Auburn football.
The truth hurts, doesnâ€™t it? Pat Dye might need to stop worrying about playing mind games on the radio with his pathetic attempts to motivate Alabamaâ€™s opponents, and get out on the practice field with Chizik and Coach Roof (Auburnâ€™s defensive coordinator). Honestly, somebody needs to teach Tiger defenders how to tackle.
It will be interesting to see how Coach Chizik responds to a loss that could possibly shatter his teamâ€™s confidence.
One thingâ€™s for sure â€“ Auburn will face much tougher competition from this point forward, and those teams will definitely use the game film from Saturdayâ€™s outing to develop their game plan in preparation for the Tigers.
Actually, Petrinoâ€™s Razorbacks arenâ€™t very good â€” at least not when compared to topâ€“tier SEC programs. That doesnâ€™t bode well for Auburnâ€™s potential success down the stretch.
Perhaps Chizik will surprise everyone with an ace up his sleeve, but I doubt it. His opponentsâ€™ defensive coaches now have a blueprint to stop offensive â€œguruâ€ Gus Malzahnâ€™s â€œrazzle-dazzleâ€ offense. On top of that the Auburn defense is simply devoid of talent.
Speaking of defense, the University of Alabama â€“ led by â€œall-worldâ€ linebacker Rolando McClain â€“ accomplished something Saturday afternoon that you wouldnâ€™t believe unless you saw it happen.
The Crimson Tide held 20th ranked Ole Miss to 19 yards (only one first down) of offense for the entire opening half. They robbed quarterback Jevan Snead four times, blocked a punt, and even grabbed a fumble over the course of the game. The Mississippi offense never had a chance. They were lucky to score three points.
On the offensive side, tailback Mark (â€œEmmitt Smith Jr.â€) Ingram continues to prove that he is one of the best football players in the nation â€“ period. He is a special football talent. Ingram is my mid-season pick for the lead in the Heisman race.
Alabamaâ€™s quarterback, Greg McElroy, had his first experience against a very strong defensive front. The Mississippi defense is very good. He responded with an average performance. Nevertheless, Gregâ€™s pedestrianâ€“like day was easily offâ€“set by the beauty of Bamaâ€™s powerâ€“running game.
Of course, with a defense that has NFL size, speed, and film knowledge, the Alabama offense can afford a slow day.
However, I think some credit for the Crimson Tideâ€™s low score Saturday goes to the superb red-zone defensive game that Ole Miss played.
Is this Alabama defense championshipâ€“caliber? Ask three of the best offenses in the country. Ask Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Mallet, or Jevan Snead. They will all be having nightmares about what happened when they faced that relentless assault designed by Saban and Smart.
At this point in the year, coming off two impressive SEC road victories, the Crimson Tide has established itself among the top-tier of the nationâ€™s elite.
Right now Nick Saban is in the middle of conducting a clinic on the validity of a proven principle: defense wins championships.
â€”Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.