October is a big month for a lot of teams in the Southeastern Conference. It certainly is for Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee in the SEC East as those teams jockey for position to earn a spot in the league title game.
In the SEC West where Alabama and LSU are the favorites, Auburn and Arkansas will meet on Saturday night trying to position their teams to stay in the divisional race in addition to trying to build up the victory total to insure a good bowl trip later this year.
Of the teams in the east and the west, Georgia probably has the easiest road to earning a spot in the SEC Championship Game because the Bulldogs don't have to play LSU, Alabama or Arkansas this year. That is quite a contrast to Auburn's schedule which features games against the top three teams in the SEC East in addition to the challenge of playing its own division, which has often been called the "toughest league" in college football.
Coach Gene Chizik's Tigers are coming off a great win at South Carolina, a team that probably has as much big-play capability on defense as any team Auburn will face this year. Winning in Columbia against a previously unbeaten team was impressive for a young Auburn team. Now the Tigers have another major test this week against an Arkansas team featuring Tyler Wilson, who is without doubt is the best quarterback in the conference this year.
Even though it is game six, Auburn will arrive in Fayetteville on Saturday night as a young team still trying to establish its identity. The Tigers are not alone in that regard. I believe you can put South Carolina, Florida and Arkansas in that category, too, and I am really interested in seeing which way those teams are headed in the "moving month" of October.
From the Mailbag:
Dear Coach Dye:
I totally agree with your point in your column (Monday, Oct. 3rd Dye-Log) when you wrote about the mindset of the Auburn team going to South Carolina expecting to win that football game even the Tigers were a big underdog. That is exactly what I was thinking when I watched the game. It reminded me of the way your teams played when you were head coach at Auburn.
Thanks for the note, P.J. Playing with confidence and a sense of purpose can give a team the winning edge in a close game like the one in Columbia. I was impressed with how a young Auburn team showed signs of growing up last Saturday.