Road Tripping to Columbia
Can Auburn slow down the Missouri offense on the road?
(Photo by Acid Reign)
War Eagle, everybody! This week, the Auburn Tigers are gearing up to hit the road for a first-ever trip to Columbia, Missouri. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen in this game. Both fan bases of this game are disgruntled and looking for change. What effect that will have on either team is still up in the air. Auburn has won 2 of 3 games, Missouri just 1 of 3. Auburn lost a close one at Clemson then struggled with FCS foe Mercer. Missouri took a 22-point loss at South Carolina and got blown out at home last week by Purdue.
Lest anyone think that Auburn should win this game in a walk-off, here are a few things to consider. A porous Missouri defense has a line that has tormented opposing quarterbacks. I don’t think Jarrett Stidham will be able to sit back in the pocket for ten seconds or more this week in front of a hostile crowd. One particular matchup that has me worried is star defensive end Marcel Frazier vs. Auburn offensive tackles, whomever the coaches decide to put out there this week. The health of Auburn tackle Darius James is a mystery, and we might be vulnerable on both ends of the line with Austin Golson and Prince Tega Wanagho out there. This comes at a time when Auburn is trying to improve a suspect rushing attack that has averaged only 3.9 yards per carry this season.
Missouri has been decent on the offensive line this season, too, allowing only 8 tackles for a loss the entire season. By comparison, Auburn has allowed 25. Where Mizzou has failed has been on completion percentage. Expected to be a star this season, Tiger quarterback Drew Lock has only hit 50 percent of his passes, completing 47 of 94 balls on the year. When Lock connects, though, it is often for a big play. Missouri receivers J’mon Moore, and Emanuel Hall are both averaging over 20 yards per catch. As a team, Missouri is averaging 19.1 yards per catch.
ESPN doesn’t think much of this matchup as they have pushed this game over to ESPN-U, and it will kick off at 6:30 PM Central Time. We will have our usual open thread up and running, here at trackemtigers.com. I am set to attend a social engagement during this game, but I should still be able to provide a play by play. I was apprehensive about this sort of thing last season, but my trusty Thinkpad enabled me to get by surprisingly well a couple of Saturdays. Those things do have some of the best laptop keyboards in the business!
SEC tidbits, after the jump!
As was mentioned above, the vultures are circling in Columbia, Missouri. The Tigers opened with a 72–43 win over in state opponent Missouri State but since dropped a 31–13 game at South Carolina and got blown out at home by Purdue, 35–3. A loss to Auburn would put a bowl game in serious doubt as Missouri still has to play at Kentucky, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Arkansas as well as home dates against Florida and Tennessee.
Thus far, Vanderbilt might be the best team in the SEC East. No one was terribly surprised when Vandy won a road game against Middle Tennessee and blew out Alabama A&M. However, in week three Vanderbilt knocked off a ranked Kansas State, Bill Snyder-led team in Nashville, 14–7. The Commodores have started the season 3–0. It will be interesting to see what they do in the SEC. Conference play starts with Vandy hosting Alabama this Saturday.
Another surprise team in the SEC East is Kentucky. I figured that this team had lost too many players to be competitive this year, but the Cats are sitting pretty at 3–0, like Vanderbilt. Kentucky didn’t impress me much with close wins at Southern Miss and against Eastern Kentucky. Last week, Kentucky went to Columbia, South Carolina and won by double digits. Kentucky is only giving up 15.3 points per game this season. When was the last time Kentucky was playing decent defense? The Jerry Claiborne era back in the 1980’s, maybe?
South Carolina started strong this year, with a big win over N. C. State in Charlotte, then they pounded Missouri 31–13. The great start fizzled with a home game against Kentucky. The Gamecocks lost, 23–13, and they lost all-world receiver Deebo Samuel to a season-ending injury.
Georgia started a little slow this season with an unimpressive 31–10 win over Appy State. Quarterback Jacob Eason was injured in that game as well. With a freshman replacement, Georgia edged Notre Dame on the road. Last week, Georgia pounded Samford, 42–14. The Dawgs are 3–0 on the year, and they host surging Mississippi State this week for their first SEC game.
Speaking of Tennessee, it’s been an interesting year. Way behind and left for dead in Atlanta, Tennessee rallied to send it to overtime against Georgia Tech and escaped when the Wreck failed on a two-point conversion. A blowout of Indiana State followed, then the Vols had a road trip to Gainesville, Florida. Tennessee led most of the game before Florida tied it up at 20, late. The Vols then allowed a 63-yard Hail Mary touchdown on the last play of the game. Tennessee had no safety stationed in the end zone on that play, which is a mind-boggling oversight!
Florida opened the season in Arlington, Texas with a bad loss to Michigan. After a hurricane Irma timeout, Florida knocked off Tennessee and now is tied for the lead in the SEC East with a 1–0 conference record. The Gators go on the road to take on the co-leader, Kentucky, in a battle for the league lead.
Over in the west, Texas A&M quietly knocked off Nichols State and Louisiana Lafayette after blowing a 44–10 lead against UCLA. The Aggies sit at 2 wins and 1 loss, and they play Arkansas in Arlington this week. The loser of this game might well be staying home for the holidays.
LSU was the darling of many SEC beat writers the first two games of the year. LSU blanked Brigham Young 27–0 in the Superdome, then shelled Chattanooga 45–10. Then the purple tigers went to Starkville and were blown out of the water by the surprising Mississippi State Bulldogs, 37–7. LSU has games against Syracuse and Troy to try and get things right before traveling to Gainesville, Florida.
Arkansas was off last weekend and is probably still licking its wounds after a bad loss to TCU in week 2. The Razorbacks face Texas A&M this week in an interesting matchup to avoid last place in the SEC West.
Mississippi State, a 6–7 team a year ago, has blasted out of the gate to a 3–0 start, outscoring its 3 opponents by the score of 143 to 28. Last week, it was LSU taking a pounding, 37–7. A test at Georgia awaits this squad this week.
Ole Miss toyed around for a half against its first couple of opponents, South Alabama and Tennessee Martin, before pulling away in the second half for big wins. There was no second half magic in California last Saturday as the Rebs were shut out down the stretch at Cal. Ole Miss lost, 27–16. The SEC schedule starts next week in Tuscaloosa. I’m thinking a painful loss is in store.
Alabama opened the season in Atlanta, dominating the Florida State Seminoles, 24–7. Some feel Alabama has looked mortal in the past couple of weeks, but the truth is that Alabama did what it wanted in 41–10 and 41–23 wins over Fresno State and Colorado State. Alabama visits Vanderbilt this week.
Auburn looked a little shaky in an opening 41–7 win over Georgia Southern. The offense then evaporated in Clemson, South Carolina in a 14–6 loss. Auburn sleep-walked and fumbled its way past Mercer, 24–10, last weekend and will travel to Missouri for the SEC opener this weekend.