Tigers make move into Top 20 polls

Published 2:46 am Saturday, October 10, 2009

It took a 5-0 start but Auburn is finally back in the rankings. The Tigers debuted at No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 19 in the USA Today Coaches poll after a not as close as the score may indicate 26-22 victory over Tennessee.

The offense was almost perfectly balanced, running for 224 yards and throwing for another 235. Unfortunately, some poor red-zone play kept this game from being a blowout. Instead of touchdowns, we leaned on kicker Wes Byrum, who split the sticks four out of five times. He is now the leading scorer in the conference.

The game between the Tigers and the Vols was a battle of two SEC coaching newcomers. Our man, head coach Gene Chizik, is now 2-0 against the other members of the 2009 coaching class, Vols’ coach Lane Kiffin and MSU coach Dan Mullen.

Those guys were cheered when they were hired, while Auburn’s hiring of Chizik was criticized by the media, and booed by many Auburn faithful. Who’s booing now?

Chizik and his staff have pushed all the right buttons, and beating the Vols on the road has turned the rest of the skeptics into believers. Auburn has won 20 consecutive games with Chizik on the coaching staff dating back to winning the final three in 2003, and going 13-0 in 2004 with him as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.

Auburn will put its new ranking to the test this week at Arkansas. The Razorbacks are coming off of a 47-19 shellacking of previously undefeated Texas A&M. There are other more high profile games (Bama vs. Ole Miss and Florida vs. LSU) being played this Saturday, but no game will be as exciting as this game in Fayetteville.

The footballs will be flying as the two top passing teams in the conference go at it. The Razorbacks can score with QB Ryan Mallett airing it out, but Gus Malzahn’s Tiger offense is more diversified. The Tiger attack has been doing everything well and has proven to be versatile enough to run when needed and throw to break games open.

The last one with the ball will win this one. Auburn is a two point favorite, but 70,000 screaming Hog fans could be the great equalizer. In a close one I’ll take the better defense, and a hot field goal kicker every time. Auburn wins it 38-35. War Eagle!