Miss. State visits Tigers this weekend

Published 2:12 am Saturday, September 12, 2009

I’m not predicting a national championship, an SEC championship, or even a west division championship for the 2009 Auburn Tigers. I’m not even sure we will go to a bowl this year. I don’t care. Saturday night was the most fun I’ve had watching Auburn football in a long time. It’s like this football program went to sleep a square and woke up the next day a circle.

The combination of Gene Chizik’s passionate coaching style, new direction on offense, and a bunch of young playmakers has transformed a team that seemed to sleepwalk through games last year.

Auburn scored 37 points, and had 556 total yards including 301 on the ground against Louisiana Tech. That is offensive production that we haven’t seen on the Plains since 2005. It could have been better. Penalties, turnovers and a lack of execution kept the game closer than it should have been in the first half.

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Chris Todd erased any doubts that he should be the starting quarterback. The senior completed 17-of-26 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He hooked up with Terrell Zachery for a 93-yard touchdown pass, which is now the longest play in Auburn history. Lightning-quick freshman Onterrio McCalebb had a great debut. He is the first freshman to run for more than 100 yards in a season opener since Bo Jackson in 1982.

McCalebb is like driving through a small town. Blink and you will miss him. This kid has superstar written all over him. As usual, Auburn turned in a great defensive performance by holding the Bulldogs to only 245 total yards. This unit will continue to improve as some key players will be back from injuries in the coming weeks.

The Auburn-Mississippi State game this weekend will be a battle of two of the three SEC coaching newcomers. Dan Mullen is coming off an impressive debut leading the Bulldogs to a 45-7 win over Jackson State. The SEC opener is big for the two teams picked to finish at the bottom of the SEC West Division. Last place in the West is definitely not what the Auburn administration had in mind when they hired Gene Chizik to be Head Coach.

Auburn really needs to get off to a fast start this season, and losing to a 14-point underdog State team would be a disaster. Don’t expect another defensive struggle like last years sleep-inducing 3-2 Auburn victory. Mullen was the offensive coordinator for the national champion Florida Gators, and knows how to put up points.

The Tigers have a 26-6 record against MSU at home, and I think that trend will continue. Auburn will build on what it did against Louisiana Tech, and get Coach Chizik his first SEC win this week. Auburn wins it 31-14. War Eagle!