Dye-Gest: Challenges And Opportunities

The Tigers need to improve after falling short in Starkville, but have a schedule to prove they are one of the top teams in the country.

Justin Garrett (26), who is shown making a tackle, will be looking to be a bigger contributor in the second half of the season after moving from "star" to linebacker.

Auburn wasn’t able to overcome the mistakes it made playing on the road last week against an outstanding, veteran football team while also not taking advantage of the mistakes that Mississippi State made.

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I am not surprised that the Tigers lost, but I was surprised the way it happened with so many turnovers, which is not characteristic of the way Auburn has played the past two seasons. Without a doubt the Tigers are going to need to perform much better with the Murder’s Row of opponents still left to play, especially with the three toughest games on the road.

The Tigers have to travel to Georgia, which showed its strength with a total domination of Missouri last Saturday. I am not sure if Georgia is that good or Missouri is that bad, but I do know lining up in Athens will be a challenging game for the Tigers.

Before Auburn makes that trip it will take on a currently unbeaten Ole Miss team at Oxford that is doing a lot of things well, particularly on defense.

The Tigers also have to play at Alabama, an opponent that has shown it is very strong defensively.

While those games will all be tough ones they offer an opportunity for Auburn to prove it is worthy of a spot in the new college football playoff. I don’t think any team the Tigers will play the rest of the regular season has more ability than Auburn, but I do think this team has to get that hunger back that it played with last year. You have no chance to go in and win as the road team against the schedule the Tigers are facing if you don’t go in with the attitude of doing “whatever it takes” to come home with a victory.

The Tigers cannot be afraid of the challenge. They have to be confident they can get the job done, but it isn’t going to be easy. That is also true with the two other conference games they will play at home vs. South Carolina and Texas A&M, opponents that are capable of beating the Tigers if they don’t play well.

There is a tremendous amount of football left to be played this season and with the schedule set up like it is the Tigers will have a chance to make the Final Four, but with one loss on their record they can’t afford another one. That is the way it is and the players need to understand there is no margin for error.

Maybe what happened last Saturday will be a good wakeup call. There were some individuals who played great against Mississippi State, but the Tigers sure didn’t play that way as a team on either offense or defense.

In a game of that magnitude you would like to say you played as well as you could whether you won or not, but I don’t think that was the case for Auburn in Starkville. If the Tigers play that way again it won’t be good enough to get the job done in any of the three SEC road games still on the schedule.

Looking at this week’s SEC games:

Furman at South Carolina--The inconsistent Gamecocks need a win to get back to .500 and should be able to do that at home before heading to Auburn next week.

Texas A&M at Alabama--The Aggies aren’t strong enough on defense to win this game on the road.

Georgia at Arkansas (at Little Rock)--The home team could make this one close for a while, but look for Georgia to win and remain the favorite in the SEC East.

Missouri at Florida--This is an interesting one to pick matching two teams that are having disappointing seasons. I am going with the Gators to win at home because that quarterback at Missouri is really struggling.

Kentucky at LSU--I like the Wildcats to win at Baton Rouge and they will go there with the attitude they can do it. I think Kentucky is playing is hard as anybody in the conference and the Wildcats have really upgraded their team speed.

Tennessee at Ole Miss--The Rebels have too many weapons for the Vols to pull off a road upset. Ole Miss should win with ease.

Season Record: 49-14

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