Catamounts for Homecoming.
Western Carolina will provide even less drama than the A-Day game.
War Eagle, everybody. In this spot the past five weeks, I’ve provided a preview of upcoming Auburn football opponents. In week seven, following the Ole Miss game, Auburn celebrates Homecoming. This year’s October 12th opponent is the Western Carolina Catamounts. The game falls in a curious spot in the schedule, this season. Instead of providing a rest around traditional Amen Corner opponents Georgia and Alabama, this game happens a week before a road trip to Texas A&M. I wonder whose decision moving Homecoming to mid-October was? The move sets Auburn up for a November that includes road games at Arkansas and Tennessee, followed by Georgia and Alabama at home. That’s a pretty tough finish to the
For those wondering what a Catamount is, various dictionaries agree that it’s a medium-sized wild cat, like a cougar or lynx. Western Carolina is the only football-playing college to use that name for their mascot. For those wondering how dangerous this game is for Auburn, consider that Western Carolina, an FCS school, has only won nine games in the past five years. Head coach Mark Speir is in his second season with the Catamounts, after a nine seasons as an Appalachian State assistant. Western Carolina hopes to improve after a 1-10 record last season. The Catamounts only held two opponents below 38 points last season, giving up 14 to Mars Hill and 25 to Samford.
I’m not going to bore everyone with my usual breakdowns for this game. Just assume an “advantage: Auburn,” tag in every area. When Auburn has scheduled these FCS games in the past, it’s usually at least been against an opponent with some wins, like Samford, Alabama A&M, Chattanooga, or Furman. The Catamounts finished 119th out of 121 FCS teams on defense last season. This game will likely be relegated to either ESPN-U or pay per view, although I can’t imagine anyone shelling out extra money to watch this one on TV.
Games like this make a good argument for adding a 9th conference game to the slate. No one who spends big bucks for Auburn season tickets deserves to have games like this shoveled at them. And it’s not even in a good spot in this season’s schedule. Auburn needs an open date before, and a cupcake after Ole Miss? Please. I wonder who in the athletic department is responsible for this clunker?
Auburn has played Western Carolina twice before, taking a 55-6 win in 1986, and a 56-0 victory in 2002. I’d expect the Catamounts to perhaps score a bit more in this game, but they’ll be hard pressed to keep the score down to those levels, unless Gus Malzhan really empties the Auburn bench.
I suppose the biggest Auburn news this week, at least from my perspective, is the announced semi-retirement of long-time Auburn beat reporter Phillip Marshall. After five years of great coverage at Auburnundercover.com, and many more years at the Huntsville Times and Montgomery Advertiser, he’s going to do part-time work with Charles Goldberg at the official Auburn website. I’ll certainly miss his perspective. He’s one of the last of the old-school football reporters, who actually write about the sport with a bit of reverence. When the whole world was predicting the death penalty for Auburn over Cam-gate, Marshall had the courage to tell the truth. He was widely ridiculed for saying that nothing would come of the investigation, but look how that turned out.