A surprisingly good Auburn team travels to Rocky Top to take on an improved Tennessee squad on Saturday. Sporting new coaches on both sidelines, this game could be surprisingly entertaining depending on which Tennessee team decides to show up. The Volunteers have been light-years better at home this year than on the road and fortunately for Davy Crockett and company, this one is in Knoxville.
War Eagles coach Gus Malzahn has made the faithful on the plains rejoice this year after two years of abject misery. That period saw the Auburn program inexplicably fall to the bottom of the SEC. For the plains faithful, even more galling was the fact that their arch nemesis and sole catalyst of everything that is wrong with the world (in their view), the Alabama Crimson Tide, hoisted two consecutive national title trophies.
The Gus Bus wins have energized the base and with the exception of an early-season beat down by a then very good LSU team in Baton Rouge, the War Eagles have been flawless. Even in the LSU loss, the young War Eagles mounted a resistance and came back to make the game a lot closer than it likely should have been at that point. That was a sign of things to come, and how they have come for War Eagles nation.
With a BCS berth and even possibly more still in the mix for Auburn, it would be natural for them to get caught looking ahead to the Iron Bowl and a death match for the ages with Nick Saban and the reigning national champion Crimson Tide. The trap is set for Auburn as they are going to face an upstart Tennessee team coming off yet another embarrassing road performance last week against Missouri.
The game should be close, but look for the War Eagles to put some distance between them and the new and improved Volunteers in the fourth quarter. Auburn will keep the Iron Bowl meaningful and continue their unlikely, but suddenly realistic shot at a BCS bowl. Don’t count out the Tigers; as improbable and far-fetched as it seems, they still have an outside shot at even the holy grail of the BCS title game. The Iron Bowl countdown clock is ticking.