A Daunting Road Trip!
Tigers visit Florida tomorrow
(Photo by Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
War Eagle, everybody! This week, the Auburn Tigers will hit the road to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida to take on the Florida Gators. This will be a matchup of a couple of teams that have made it to October undefeated. After the game against Auburn, the Gators will travel to LSU. Florida looked shaky in Week Zero, holding on to defeat Miami in Orlando. Tennessee Martin offered little resistance as the Gators won 45–0 two weeks later. It took a dramatic turnaround in Lexington for Florida to take down Kentucky, 29–21. A 3-game home stand already includes a 34–3 beating of Tennessee and a 38–0 win over Towson. Auburn is next for the Gators.
Every week in this space I have complained about the Auburn running game and how Auburn needs to be less stubborn about trying to run into the teeth of a blitzing defense. I have been wrong every week as Auburn continues to be a run-first team and has been successful against a difficult schedule. It is worth noting that what really got the Mississippi State game out of hand last week was Bo Nix throwing on first down. Gator defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is at his best when the other team has a negative play on first down.
Defensively, Florida is near or at the top of the SEC in most categories. Of course, when Miami and Kentucky are the best offenses a team has faced, one would expect good numbers. The schedule disparity is one thing few reporters are talking about, but I will point out that Florida hasn’t played near the competition Auburn has. I suspect that Oregon, Texas A&M, and, probably, Mississippi State would be undefeated if they had played Florida’s schedule thus far. We will find out if that matters on the field Saturday.
Auburn has to continue to stop the run, and defend against yet another quarterback who likes the quick, short passing game. Every offense Auburn has played this season has realized that running the ball won’t work, and has gone to a short passing game. Auburn allows yards on this, but it has been difficult to put a drive together for points that way. Florida will field the best group of receivers Auburn has seen this year, and it will be incumbent upon the secondary to keep making tackles.
The weather should be hot again for this game. It is expected to be above 90º at kickoff. There is only a slight chance of rain, and skies should mostly sunny. We will have our usual Trackemtigers.com Open Thread up and running for this one, and I will be at the keyboard all day, most likely. I’m hoping to get in a great, complete day of college football watching! The game kicks off at 2:30 PM Central Daylight Time and will be nationally televised on CBS.
A look at other SEC games this weekend after the jump!
Kicking off the early SEC action this week are the LSU Tigers, who host Utah State. I can remember Auburn needing a couple of late touchdowns to beat Utah State about 8 years ago, but I don’t feel like that will be necessary for LSU. I expect the Tigers to roll up more big points in this one. Strangely, this is the only early SEC game this week.
Auburn takes on Florida at 2:30 on CBS, and all eyes will be on this one. The winner can make a statement about being a playoff contender. The loser won’t be out of the race, but it will make for an uphill climb.
Troy travels to Missouri to play at 3:00 PM. I have been impressed with Chip Lindsey’s Trojans this season, but Mizzou has rebounded nicely from an opening day loss at Wyoming and has quietly become one of the SEC East’s better teams. I suspect that Troy will have tough sledding in Columbia.
Most of the SEC action this week is of the night variety. At 6:00 PM, Tennessee hosts Georgia. I suspect this will be a snoozer, similar to Tennessee’s 34–3 beating by Florida.
Vanderbilt visits Ole Miss at 6:30 PM. Right now, neither team is a threat to make a bowl game, but I feel like Ole Miss should win this one at home.
We are in the middle of bye season, and Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Alabama are all off this week.