The 2012 season has not been kind to Auburn.
Actually, life post-Cam Newton has not been kind to Auburn.
However, now that the biggest challenge is out of the way—at least until the final weekend of the season—it's possible that things could be looking up for the Tigers before long.
Next up on the docket for Auburn is a date with Arkansas, which is exactly the type of team the Tigers want to be facing right about now. If there is one SEC team that is struggling just as much as the Tigers, this is it.
That being said, there is no team in the conference that has had as much trouble getting its wins than Auburn. The Tigers' lone victory came in Week 2 against Louisiana-Monroe, and even that one took an overtime field goal to solidify.
In the Tigers' defense, their road to Week 5 hasn't been the easiest in the nation. In addition to facing No. 2 LSU in Week 4, they had to open the season against then-No. 14 Clemson. Meanwhile, Mississippi State may not have been ranked at the time, but it was soon after it faced Auburn.
The first few weeks don't matter at this point. All that matters for the Tigers right now is getting that first SEC win—and making sure that they do it before Arkansas does.
The first step is getting the offense back on track.
Auburn picked last week's game against LSU to put forth its worst offensive performance of the season—which really was a shame, because it somehow managed to have its best defensive performance by a landslide.
We'll get to that.
In their first three games of the season, the Tigers averaged 20 points per game—not horrible, but not terrific, either. There was a huge dropoff against LSU last week, though, and that can't happen if the Tigers want to take down the Razorbacks this weekend.
The outcome of this game was especially discouraging, given the fact that Auburn went into halftime with a 10-9 lead over the No. 2 team in the nation. However, the Tigers couldn't get anything going in the second half. Not a single thing. They were shut out over the final two quarters, and LSU needed only a third-quarter field goal to steal the victory.
Credit is obviously due to the LSU defense, and fortunately for Auburn, Arkansas doesn't boast the same prowess. Therefore, as long as it can continue its offensive momentum on Saturday, it will have a chance.
That is, as long as this defense does to the Razorbacks what it did to LSU.
That's no sure thing.
Auburn's defense was stellar last week. It held the second-ranked team in the nation to a safety, a touchdown and a field goal. Prior to that, this team had allowed an average of 27.3 points per game.
Something clicked against LSU. Maybe (probably) the Tigers were just pumped up to play one of the best teams in the nation at home.
That's where the biggest key of this game comes in.
The Tigers can't suffer any kind of hangover or letdown game against Arkansas.
No, it won't be as fun for Auburn to play a really bad SEC team, especially in light of what it almost accomplished last week. However, this is a perfect opportunity for the Tigers to get their first conference win, and they really can do it. They have an chance to carry over the defensive momentum they built the last time out and use it to get on the right track.
There can be no lingering disappointment in the wake of last week's loss. If the Tigers can fight that, they have a great chance to start turning things around this week.