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Auburn wraps up its season with the most challenging game it will play. For once, the Tigers will be on the road. There is no reason to predict this to be any less of a playoff game for Bama than the one Georgia had with Auburn just two weeks prior.
The final game of the year is always a big one for the seniors, and if Auburn wants any shot at a BCS bowl game, this game against Alabama will need to be more than an opportunity to reminisce.
Emory Blake was the team’s best receiver in 2011, and the senior will need to not only claim that title once again but must also lead the influx of wideouts in the 2012 class. He seems to be embracing the role, as seen by these comments made to Charles Goldberg of the Auburn Bureau.
It’s more important that we, as leaders, keep the tempo up… Some players lose sight of that, so we, as leaders, have to be the one to let them know it's time to work, not time to play. So far, we've done a great job of that… I have the experience. I've been here. I've done things, so guys will listen to me. They're doing a good job of listening.
Running back Onterio McCalebb is another noteworthy senior. McCalebb, who has averaged 940 all-purpose yards over the last two seasons, must be the team's best back after the departure of Michael Dyer and ineligibility of incoming 4-star recruit Jovon Robinson (via Alex Scarborough of ESPN).
On the defensive side, Daren Bates, Jonathan Evans and T'Sharvan Bell will need to be models all season as Auburn adjusts to a new scheme, much like those on offensive will need to do under new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.
Auburn’s success will hinge on the ability of the seniors to carry the team through the season and, if all goes perfectly, win this game against Alabama for an opportunity to play in a major bowl game.
All five of these games are against teams currently considered “better”—whatever that means. With all the unknowns heading into 2012, they could very well lose them all. Then again, if any team has taught us that preseason rankings are nothing more than a reason to write these kinds of articles, it is Auburn.