With the departure of Cam Newton and Nick Fairley to the NFL, this was supposed to be the season that the Auburn Tigers were exposed while they restocked for another title run.
However, five games into the season they are 4-1 and still pulling out miraculous wins.
It took a perfect onside kick versus Utah State. It took a goal-line stand against Mississippi State. Finally, it took Michael Dyer channeling his inner-Lattimore with a 41 carry-workload against South Carolina that would have made his opponent nod in admiration.
In other words, it took a little luck and a lot of faith within the Tigers locking room to pull off Saturday's 16-13 shocker in Columbia.
Every time the Tigers are counted out, they shock the world. Critics will point to their upcoming games against Arkansas, Florida, and LSU as the dates that Auburn will be exposed.
However, the same was said about the Mississippi State and South Carolina games. And the Tigers won both of those.
The players have changed since 2010's epic run, but the results are similar. The common denominator has been the Auburn coaching staff.
I will be the first to admit that I was wrong about Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. I dismissed his coaching success last season as being nothing more than the one-year "Newton and Fairley" show.
However, I was wrong. When they beat Mississippi State this season, I pointed to Gus Malzahn as the source of their success.
The truth, however, is that Gene Chizik knows how to win football games. Especially the big ones. His team's stifling defense against Oregon's vaunted offensive attack in last season's national championship was a great feat of coaching.
Coming into South Carolina and snatching a win away from a would-be national contender is right up there with his all-time accomplishments.
I am not yet convinced that Chizik is an elite X’s and O’s coach. However, I am not sure that it matters. Chizik is the ultimate motivator and his players have complete faith in him. I have no doubt that if Coach Chizik told the Tiger players that it was raining in the midst of a drought, they would grab an umbrella and put on a rain coat.
Nothing is more dangerous than a team that believes and no one knows how to make a team believe better than Chizik.
It was Chizik in the huddle telling the players not to give up when they went down ten points with just over three minutes remaining in the Utah State game. It was Chizik lifting up the teams spirits prior to the Mississippi State game, when very few believed they had a shot. It was Chizik who motivated the defense to shut down the South Carolina offense after the debacle in Clemson.
I picked Auburn to win eight games before the season started. While I am not ready to back off that number yet, I am also on willing to ever count the Tigers out again.
The Tigers will be heavy underdogs once again as they prepare for the daunting task of facing Arkansas, Florida, and LSU in consecutive weeks. However, Coach Chizik wouldn't want it any other way.
I know they are supposed to go 0-3 during that stretch but someone forgot to send the Tigers the memo.