Are Auburn Tigers the Best One-Loss Team in College Football?
The Auburn Tigers have turned things around in a hurry under new head coach Gus Malzahn. One season after going winless in SEC play, the Tigers are 8-1 in 2013, including an impressive 4-1 in conference play with the opportunity to punch their ticket to the SEC title game at the end of the regular season in the Iron Bowl against the Alabama Crimson Tide. They boast the No. 6 running game in college football this season and have risen all the way to No. 9 in the latest BCS standings. But could you make the case for Auburn being the best one-loss team in the country?
Going off of the latest BCS rankings, Auburn is ranked as the fourth-best one-loss team behind the Stanford Cardinal (No. 5 in the BCS), Clemson Tigers (No. 7) and Missouri Tigers (No. 8). Auburn started the season ranked lowest among all these teams probably after winning just two games in 2012 and have been playing catchup all season long. Their one loss on the year, a 35-21 defeat at the LSU Tigers (then No. 6), could be argued as the “best” loss of the group of one-loss contenders in the BCS race and could make a solid case for Auburn being higher in the rankings.
Stanford, the leader of the one-loss teams at the moment, suffered a huge upset loss on the road earlier this season against the Utah Utes, 27-21 in Salt Lake City. Clemson, of course, was blown off their home field by the Florida State Seminoles 51-14 earlier this season. While losing to the Noles isn’t necessarily a knock against the program, the manner in which they were dominated should certainly count against them. Then there is Missouri who blew a huge fourth-quarter lead to a hobbled Connor Shaw and the South Carolina Gamecocks to lose in double overtime when they shanked a chip-shot field goal.
Auburn, at the very least, didn’t embarrass themselves in their loss to LSU. They fought back in the second half and were even on most every statistical category except the scoreboard (which in the end is the only one that matters). Tre Mason has been as explosive out of the backfield as any running back in the country, highlighted by his 168-yard, four-touchdown performance last weekend against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Malzahn has this team running on all cylinders and have been as impressive as any one-loss team in the country.
So while the BCS has Auburn ranked behind other one-loss teams like Stanford, Clemson and Missouri, could War Eagle make a case as the best non-perfect team in college football?