After Three Straight Losses, Auburn Has a Long Road Ahead

c dockensCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2009

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Ben Tate #44 of the Auburn Tigers against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

For Auburn fans, these last three weeks may have seemed like torture. After starting 5-0, the Tigers have dropped three straight, all of which came in conference.

However, the 2-3 conference record isn’t the worst part of it. Two of the Tigers’ losses came to inferior teams.

Well, the Arkansas game is debatable, but as a Bama fan I know Auburn fans won’t tolerate losing to teams like Kentucky.

As a Bama fan I was hoping this would be a copy of last season’s Auburn and Miss St. game, but instead I witnessed a clinic on how to defeat Auburn: Run the ball and run it often. As hard as it was to stomach, I watched LSU beat Auburn’s eyes out for three-and-a-half quarters. Auburn looked helpless when it came to defending the pass.

The Tigers rank 35th in yards per game but have allowed 10 touchdowns through the air, and seven of them have come in conference games. Combine that with their 89th, yes, 89th-ranked rushing defense, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Following these three abysmal weekends, Auburn fans are hoping to see things turn around. Sorry to disappoint you, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

This weekend Auburn faces No. 25 Mississippi. Ole Miss has looked overrated for much of the season, mainly due in part to the inconsistency of Jevan Snead. The strong point of the Rebels attack is the dual threat wide receiver, playmaker, and game changer Dexter McCluster.

If Snead can just avoid the rush long enough, McCluster is bound to find a hole in the defense. If Snead can’t produce through the air, the Wild Rebel shall prove fatal to the Tigers, as McCluster will execute it to a “T.”

After the shellacking the Tigers receive at the hands of the Rebels, they have a chance to compose themselves in a squash match against Furman before playing Georgia.

This year the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry will feature a Georgia team that is still trying to find themselves and a 6-4 Auburn squad that desperately needs a victory to boost their moral before they face the Tide.

At the beginning of the season I would have said Georgia would win this game by 13. However, Auburn is 35th against the pass, and while that isn’t great, that should be sufficient to hold Joe Cox to a two TD and one INT game (about his average).

Things start to get dicey when you compare the Bulldogs' rushing attack and the Tigers' lackluster run D. Luckily for the Tigers, Georgia’s 103rd-ranked rush offense couldn’t run through a paper bag.

This game will probably resemble the Auburn-Arkansas game, but with the score reversed. Auburn has a stellar rushing attack and a great group of backs that will give Georgia fits. Auburn wins this by three scores.

Auburn will limp into the Iron bowl, sporting a 7-4 record and coming off their best game of the season, their thorough dismemberment of the Georgia Bulldogs. However, this performance was but a façade, one the Tide will all too quickly tear down. Mark Ingram will slash, gash, and tear the Tigers defense into ribbons.

Bama’s defense will have their hands full with Auburn’s three-headed rushing attack, but without a passing threat the Tide can focus on shutting the Tigers down. The game will be closer than last season’s. The Tigers will likely trail by 10 at the half, but the Tide will slam the door shut before the third quarter is over. In the end the Tigers will fall. Look for a score of about 37-13.

The Tigers will finish the season 7-5, 3-5 in conference.