Auburn has long been known as the luckiest team in the country. After two close calls against mediocre (at best) opposition, the Tigers sit at 2-0 when almost any other program would be 0-2.
Here are some startling statistics for you:
On Defense, AU has played 181 snaps on defense so far. That’s last in the country (#120).
After 2 weeks, the Tigers are next to last in rushing defense with 560 yards given up (#119), near the bottom in total defense with 979 yards given up (#115), and sitting at #112 in the nation with 490 yards yielded per game.
The fighting Weegles have also given up 72 points in two games, again against pathetic competition, landing them at #107 in the land. And, they are last in the land (#120) in opponents’ first downs, giving up 58 so far in two contests.
But it’s that awesome Gus Malzahn offense that sustains them, right? Well…
On Offense they are #74 in the land, remember against Utah State and Mississippi State, with 372 yards per game. A far cry from Cammy days. And, Gus’ dipsy-doo, trickeroo offense, designed to give them more snaps than the other team, is next to last in time of possession (#119).
For any other team this is a recipe for 0-2, and potentially 9 losses by year’s end.
You have to believe it is going to catch up with them eventually, but I have to admit I become more intrigued every week how this program strung together by bailing wire, duct tape and towel-waving hype finds a way to end the game on top.
It’s luck like a quarterback nailing an unsuspecting player in the helmet with the ball, sending it kareening miles into the air only to fall directly into the hands of a sprinting Auburn safety who gently walks into the endzone a few seconds later.
It’s luck like an onside kick landing perfectly into the arms of a sprinting Auburn teammate.
It’s luck like an officiating crew changing the rules of the game on a fourth and inches to award Auburn a first down deep in their territory when there’s clearly room between the nose of the ball and the last chain link.
(And if there’s any question about this one, watch the tape of this play again, where both teams react knowing Auburn was stopped…yet the crew gives Auburn the first. And look at the official leaning the ball forward!)
There are droves of other examples, but my dad taught me about “Auburn luck” growing up, and friends, it’s as real as the sunrise.
The next victim is Clemson. And I can’t wait to see how they’ll outplay Auburn this Saturday yet still come up empty, like virtually everyone does.
To beat Auburn, especially in Auburn, you have to beat the manure out of them. You can’t leave them in the game. You can’t let them or their ignorant fanbase feel like they’re within striking distance of a win against you.
In other words, you have to do to them what Alabama did to Penn State in Happy Valley last Saturday. After the opening drive, Penn State was never in the game.
So how many teams are on Auburn’s schedule who are able to dismantle them like Alabama can? I count five. Who will actually do it besides the Tide? That’s the million dollar question.
The problem is, nobody takes the Tigers seriously. Auburn is a traditional “also ran” that falls into the same category as the Clemsons and Louisvilles of the college football world. They believe their “B” game is enough to beat the Tigers. But it takes an “A” game to put them…and their luck…away.
After last November, you can believe Nick Saban is intently aware of this. But is anyone else?