The Auburn Tigers fell just short in their attempt to upset No. 2 LSU last Saturday, just as they'll ultimately fall short in their hopes of being a top SEC team once again.
Auburn isn't quite in a rebuilding stage, but it's far from having a Cam Newton at the helm of the program. It's won a single game in 2012, over Louisiana-Monroe in overtime. Last week at Jordan-Hare Stadium, however, it almost won its most important game since its title game victory two seasons ago.
It gave LSU a run for its money. At halftime, the score was 10-9 in favor of Auburn. It allowed only one rushing touchdown to Michael Ford, and if it wasn't for a 30-yard field goal allowed in the third quarter, Gene Chizik's boys would have taken down the runners-up of a season ago.
But it wasn't so.
Auburn averaged only 2.9 yards on the ground and 4.4 yards per pass against the tough LSU defenders. Its three turnovers kept putting the LSU Tigers in positions to put points on the board.
Going 2-for-12 on third down didn't help its cause either. It came painfully close, but couldn't finish off its conference rival.
And that'll tell the tale of 2012. Painfully close.
Auburn isn't as bad as its record tells you. Coming within two points of LSU is a testament to the team's dedication to winning, regardless of how good it's supposed to be.
The fact is, its schedule is just too tough. Games against Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama are too much for the Tigers to persevere through despite the team's gutty ways.
The LSU game did wonders form Auburn's progression, however. Head coach Chizik said it himself, according to ESPN, "I'm very proud of the defensive strides we made."
Chizik realizes the chances of making this season a winning one are slim, though. "Do we have a long way to go? Absolutely."
They absolutely do. But don't be surprised if they deliver and shock the world against a world-class SEC foe in 2012. They have the guts to play hard, but the long season will get the better of the Auburn Tigers.