Auburn dominated Alabama A&M from start to finish on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers beat the Bulldogs, 51-7.
For one short block of time in 2012, Auburn looked like a good football team.
"We played pretty well today, and I think we got some things accomplished in terms of getting a lot of guys on the field. The bottom line is getting the win, so overall, it was a good day, "Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said (via Auburntigers.com).
Chances are, the Auburn team that played the Georgia Bulldogs two weeks ago is closer to the real Auburn team than the one that dominated the FCS version of the Bulldogs on Saturday. All Auburn can take away from Saturday's game is a smidgen of confidence.
Auburn won on pure talent alone. It did not become a powerful offense that can crank out 512 yards of offense against anyone.
In games like this where Alabama A&M was clearly out-manned, you can't gather a lot from basic statistics. Holding Alabama A&M to 208 yards of offense looks nice in the box score, but you have to judge the quality of the performance based on other parts of the game. Auburn was far from perfect in a couple of areas.
The Tigers committed 11 penalties on Saturday. It cost them 79 yards in total. One sequence was especially frustrating.
On two consecutive plays, Auburn was penalized for a false start and a holding penalty. Later in the same drive, QB Jonathan Wallace found WR Sammie Coates for what would have been a TD, but a holding penalty negated the play.
Auburn ended up scoring a TD on the drive courtesy of an Onterio McCalebb 19-yard run. It can't count on having the same fortune if the offense shoots itself in the foot the same way next weekend in Tuscaloosa.
Getting off-schedule has been a common problem for the offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler's group.
Auburn was able to overcome the penalties on Saturday due to dominating the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage (as it should against an FCS opponent). The Tigers will undoubtedly be outmanned on both lines next Saturday.
There were missed opportunities throughout the day for Auburn. Wallace battled accuracy issues in the first half. He finished the day 10-for-18 for 171 yards and a TD. Two incompletions that stand out are a wide-open Sammie Coates in the end zone in the second quarter. On the next drive, Wallace overthrew Coates along the sideline.
Wallace is certainly the best option at QB for Auburn, but he is a long way away from being a QB that can pull off an upset against a top-ranked team like Alabama.
It is a safe bet that there will not be many opportunities for the Auburn offense next Saturday. When one arises, Auburn must take advantage.
Although Auburn was far from perfect in its 51-7 defeat of Alabama A&M, it can take a little confidence into next week's Iron Bowl.
"It was really important, because we know what we have going into next week," said defensive back T'Sharvan Bell. "We weren’t looking past Alabama A&M. We knew we had to go out there and get a lot of things done for us to be able to go into Tuscaloosa the way we want to, and I think we did that" (via Charles Goldberg of AL.com).
The Tigers will be looking to end rival Alabama's hopes of an SEC West and national championship after the Tide got back into the picture due to losses by Kansas State and Oregon on Saturday night.
With an unlikely upset, Auburn could erase the sour taste that the 2012 season has given players, coaches and fans. As we saw on Saturday evening, anything can happen in the wild world of college football.