The Mississippi State Bulldog team that swaggered into Tuscaloosa Saturday evening left a few hours later a chastened cur after being whipped by the Alabama Crimson Tide, 30-10.
The Bulldogs came into the contest the winners of seven straight and hoping to meet a 'Bama team that was reeling from a tough loss last week at the hands of the LSU Tigers.
What they met instead was a determined team that looked more like last year's national champion and less like a two-loss squad.
The Crimson Tide (8-2) now have essentially a scrimmage against Georgia State Thursday evening before focusing on Auburn the day after Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, Auburn handed Georgia another SEC defeat and secured a place in the SEC championship game in early December.
But Auburn wants more than that.
The Tigers look to go to the BCS championship game for the first time with a win over 'Bama and over SEC East winner South Carolina. With Heisman candidate Cam Newton's one-man show, the Tigers feel this is probably the best shot they will have at an undefeated season and a national championship.
But what Newton and his buddies on the Auburn team saw in the Alabama-MSU game should scare them senseless.
They did not see a contest between two Top 20 teams; no, Mississippi State (7-3) did not look like their No. 19 ranking.
They looked like Mississippi State.
And it was a dominating, stifling Alabama defense that did it to them. Instead of worrying about possible NCAA investigations of Newton's eligibility, Auburn coach Gene Chizik should be worried about a resurgent 'Bama D despite giving up a garbage touchdown in the fourth quarter.
And that's not all that should worry Auburn. MSU's run defense caused the firm of McElwain, McElroy and McCarron to go to the pass. That strategy resulted in 'Bama breaking the game wide open. Maze, Jones and company simply cannot be stopped.
And with a suspect Auburn pass defense, that concept should give the Tigers nightmares.
Oh, and one more thing. Trent Richardson sat out this game. That's right; the best backup in the nation took the night off. Instead, Eddie Lacy spelled Mark Ingram, and the freshman looked like a beast. Then Julio Jones raced for 56 yards on a run for his first career rushing touchdown.
Even Demetrius Goode and Jalston Fowler ran well.
With the extra time off, Richardson will be back surely. But in any event, Auburn cannot possibly stop both the rushing and passing game of the Tide. They put up over 400 yards against a good defensive team in the Bulldogs.
Remember, this MSU team lost to Auburn by three. 'Bama beat them by 20.
You do the math.
Sure, Auburn may go to a BCS game. But a loss to Alabama would send TCU or Boise to the BCS championship game in their place.
And that would be the most bitter pill the Tigers would ever have to swallow.