The 2009 Auburn Tigers have a unique opportunity to start the season. Whether or not they take advantage of this chance will dictate in a very big way how the season will turn out.
Auburn is the only team in the SEC to be at home the first four weeks of the season, and the chance to start 4-0 has crossed many Auburn fans' minds during the long offseason.
Before we look at what it would mean, let's look at the 2008 team. Off to a 3-0 start, the team came home again in the fourth week of the season, only to lose 26-21 to LSU, signaling the beginning of the end.
The game at Mississippi State should have been the writing on the wall for that team, with Auburn winning by a ridiculous 3-2 score.
The first four opponents of 2009 are Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, West Virginia, and Ball State. Auburn will most likely be favored in three of these games.
Now that we've reviewed, what exactly would a 4-0 start mean for Auburn? It certainly won't be easy.
Last year, Louisiana Tech defeated Mississippi State in the first game of the season and went on to win eight games during the 2008 campaign.
Mississippi State nearly defeated a hapless Auburn team in Starkville last year, and would certainly love to rain on the parade that will be Coach Gene Chizik's first SEC game. While the talent pool is higher most years at Auburn, nothing is guaranteed in the SEC.
West Virginia is a game that Auburn would absolutely love to win. Last year, the team went to Morgantown and raced out to a 17-3 lead only to fall flat on their face and confirm many fans' worst fears.
Auburn would love to show the Big East and the rest of the country that they are for real with a national audience watching during this game.
Finally, we come to Ball State, a team that received a great deal of attention last year while racing out to a 12-0 start. This team has lost a lot, however, and Auburn will have another chance to dominate in this game.
So there you have it. If Auburn takes care of business in these first four games, they will almost certainly take a national ranking into their first road games of the year at Tennessee and Arkansas.
If Auburn trips early out of the gate, things could quickly spiral out of control in Gene Chizik's first year.
Last year, a tough SEC loss to LSU and a narrow win against Mississippi State laid the foundation for an awful season.
Fortunately, this team does not have to face a quarterback controversy that will linger the entire season.
Chris Todd will have to be the one to guide the ship at Auburn, both through his play on the field and his leadership.
If he plays well, 4-0 is definitely capable from this talent-laden roster.
It is not only necessary, it is vital for the Auburn team to start quick and never let up if they want to quickly bring the program back to national prominence.
This team, and Gene Chizik himself, cannot wait much longer for the Tigers to rise again.