Monday Morning QB Column: Big Game for AU

Auburn heads into an important game this weekend when the Tigers face off against Ole Miss.

Before the 2013 football season started there were a few watershed games for the Auburn Tigers in my mind, games that can take a season from rebuilding, to solid to good in a matter of a few weeks. The first of those came when Gus Malzahn's team defeated Mississippi State on a last-second touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to C.J. Uzomah.

The next opportunity comes this Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. While Ole Miss has captured the attention of the nation thanks to a very good recruiting class, the fact of the matter is the Rebels still haven't accomplished very much on the field. Under Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss is just 10-7 with the biggest wins coming against Mississippi State last season and a shattered Texas team two weeks ago. To take the next step as a program and do it this season, Auburn needs win number four this week.

What Have We Learned?

Five weeks into the 2013 season and things are beginning to sort themselves out, not only in the SEC but across the college football landscape. On Saturday it was the Georgia Bulldogs winning a shootout over LSU in Athens while Texas A&M did the same over Arkansas. Alabama's shutout win over Ole Miss was impressive, but the decision to pass up nine points by the Rebels turned a potentially close game into a breather for the Crimson Tide.

What does it mean moving forward? That is the big question. All of the contenders in the Southeastern Conference have shown some weaknesses with many of those coming on the defensive side of the football. Because of that teams with the tools to score a lot of points have the potential to knock off any team in the SEC. While it will be a difficult challenge for Auburn to knock off the Aggies, Bulldogs or Crimson Tide this season, it won't be impossible based on what I have seen.

Around the country there is no doubt in my mind that the PAC-12 is easily the second-best league in college football and may seriously threaten the SEC's stranglehold on that title this year. Stanford and Oregon are both legitimate national title contenders in 2013 and teams such as Washington, UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon State and Arizona give the league depth like it hasn't seen in years.

The One That Got Away

With Auburn's lack of depth and struggles at the safety position the last two years it makes you wonder what could have been if the Tigers had pulled the trigger on Trae Elston. A standout at Oxford High along with current LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander, Elston was a very good player for the Yellow Jackets, but the former Auburn staff didn't see him fitting in on either side of the ball. This Saturday night he'll play safety in Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Ole Miss Rebels and is a player to keep an eye on in both the run game and Auburn's passing attack.

It's Time

Auburn's illustrious football history is lined with defensive linemen who have dominated the line of scrimmage. Names like Frank Warren, Donnie Humphrey, Tracy Rocker, Gary Walker and Nick Fairley are just a few of the standouts at the defensive tackle position in the Tigers' history. Now is the time for the next guy to take his place alongside those great names and take the Auburn defense to another level in the process.

Although he's just a freshman, Montravius Adams appears to have all the tools to be the next great one, but it's asking too much to expect that level of performance so early in his career. That means juniors Angelo Blackson and Gabe Wright need to take things to another level. Not afforded the luxury of a redshirt season that can prove to be very beneficial, both have had two years of learning on the job. Now it's time to turn from apprentice into laborer and get the job done.

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