Well, this will be a nice change of pace for the Auburn Tigers.
In 2012, things have not been easy for a team that could once call itself one of the most dominant in the SEC. In fact, this season has been nightmarish. After going a respectable 8-5 last year in their first post-Cam Newton campaign, the Tigers have found that wins are nearly impossible to come by this season, especially in the war zone that is the SEC.
The Tigers have won twice in 2012—against Louisiana-Monroe and against New Mexico State—but they stand at 2-8 and 0-7 in division play. Fortunately, following the 38-0 walloping they took from Georgia last week, they get a gift on Saturday in the form of Alabama A&M.
Auburn has been just fine against non-major conference opponents this season, so they should be able to compete, at the very least, against the Bulldogs, who are 7-3 in the SWAC but have dropped three of their last four to the likes of Alcorn State, Alabama State and Jackson State.
But perhaps A&M has one upset in its tank for its season finale.
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.
When: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. ET
Listen: WKKR-FM 97.7 in Auburn, WJAB 90.9 FM in Huntsville
Live Stream: ESPN3
Alabama A&M Injury Report
No injuries to report
Auburn Injury Report (via USAToday.com)
- LB Jake Holland (ankle) is questionable for Saturday after missing last week's game
- QB Clint Moseley (ankle) is questionable after missing last week's game
- LB Justin Garrett (undisclosed) has missed the last three games and remains questionable
- DB Ryan Smith (undisclosed) has missed the last three games and is questionable
- OL Christian Westerman (leg) has missed the last three games and is questionable
- OL Avery Young (undisclosed) is out for the season
- TE Philip Lutzenkirchen (hip) is out for the season
Well, that's a cruel joke to Auburn fans.
Two seasons ago, this team was an undefeated BCS champion. This year, the Tigers are likely spending their time counting down the days until they can officially call this season a part of their past. Obviously, without a single win over a major-conference team, Auburn is just about as far out of the postseason picture as a team can get. It is dead last in the SEC West and is 0-7 in division play.
After taking on the Bulldogs, Auburn will end its season against No. 4 Alabama. Maybe it can generate some momentum this weekend and propel it into the next, where it has the chance to play spoiler to the Crimson Tide—but that's just about as close to the BCS picture as this team is getting in 2012.
What They're Saying
It's that time. For every big-name program that has a somewhat inexplicably terrible season, the time comes when the entire team-related dialogue revolves around the fate of the coaching staff—specifically, in this case, that of head coach Gene Chizik.
And by all indications, it doesn't look good for the boss, if you couldn't tell from his team's 2-8 record.
According to Phillip Marshall of Auburn Undercover, university president Jay Gogue has informed "some members of the Board of Trustees that he is making preparations to possibly replace head football coach Gene Chizik," but athletic director Jay Jacobs is safe.
Marshall adds that the replacement Gogue has in mind is Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.
Although former university president Ed Richardson told CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler that Chizik could possibly keep his job if the team fares well against A&M and Alabama, it's really not looking good for him at this point.
Meanwhile, the Twitterverse is relishing Auburn's downfall. Exhibit A:
Once you commit to play football at Auburn, give it a few months and the bad decisions will just make themselves.— Auburn Jokes™(@AuburnJokes) November 13, 2012
And according to @AuburnProblems, perhaps the Tigers' 2012 season is a sign that perhaps all that 2012 apocalyptic talk isn't just talk:
If this football season wasn't already enough of a sign that the world was going to end then this is— Auburn Problems (@Auburn_Problems) November 7, 2012
Alabama A&M Player to Watch
Despite how poorly things have gone for the Bulldogs over the last month or so, things started off pretty nicely. A&M reeled off six consecutive wins to begin the year, but since then, it has dropped three conference games and now faces its toughest test of the season by a long shot.
In order to have any shot at competing, senior quarterback Deaunte Mason is going to have to submit his best performance of the season. He certainly hasn't been bad this year: Even in last week's loss to Jackson State, he finished with 193 passing yards, three touchdowns and zero picks. The week before that, he led the Bulldogs to an exhilarating 24-23 overtime win over Southern University, tossing the game-tying touchdown to Montaurius Smith with 30 seconds remaining in regulation and running in the game-winner himself in overtime.
Mason is capable of keeping this team above water, but Saturday's matchup will come down to whether or not the A&M defense can hold Auburn at bay while Mason gets his job done.
Auburn Player(s) to Watch
There were virtually zero positives for any Auburn player to take from last week's shutout against Georgia, but the week before that, this offense looked pretty good in a 42-7 victory over New Mexico State.
And in that win, the Tigers' rushing game was primarily responsible for the win after accumulating 311 yards, outgaining New Mexico State by 228 yards on the ground. Sophomore running back Tre Mason and senior running back Onterio McCalebb each rushed for over 100 yards, and Mason had one touchdown while McCalebb had two.
If this backfield tandem performed that well against New Mexico State, it is certainly capable of doing the same against Alabama A&M. Look for them to spark this offense once again.
The Tigers currently have so little going for them that it's hard to predict whether they'll come out on Saturday ready to make one second-to-last stand for their coach, or whether they'll be so disappointed by the way things have gone this season that they'll come out flat.
This team still has something to play for. It can win another game or two for Chizik. It can get excited about having the opportunity to play spoiler to Alabama in the season finale. And there is definitely hope that this offense can make the Bulldogs look silly on Saturday, judging by what it did to New Mexico State a couple of weeks ago: In the midst of a five-game losing streak, the Tigers rebounded to the tune of a 42-7 win over a team it should have beaten and needed to beat.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, this team does have some juice left in the tank, and it does have an opportunity to snag at least one more win.
Auburn certainly isn't good, but it's good enough to beat Alabama A&M. This team may not have been able to compete in the SEC this season, but it has been able to beat the teams it should have beaten, and the Bulldogs will be the latest victims.
That's at least something—however small—for the Tigers to be excited about.