On Nov. 8, 1952, Auburn fell to Mississippi State 49-34 to drop to 1-6 on the season.
Six decades later, and for the first time since, the 2012 Tigers have duplicated that dubious feat. And added to the raging fire burning beneath Gene Chizik‘s backside.
Coming into the game with Vanderbilt as eight-point underdogs (chuckle), AU actually played the Commodores closer than expected although, in the end, the 17-13 loss was the sixth in seven games this season. It’s the fourth time in the program’s 111-year history the Tigers have started 1-6. The only start worse than that? The 1950 squad started 0-7 on its way to a winless 0-10 season.
But back to 2012 and Chizik’s status. And as we’ve previously written…
Chizik has done nothing of import at the collegiate level without Cam Newton as his quarterback. In 2010, Newton’s lone season at the school, the Heisman winner led AU to a perfect 14-0 season that ended with a BcS title. In three non-Newton seasons at his current school, Chizik is 17-16, including a lowly 7-14 mark in SEC play. Add in his time at Iowa State, and the AU head coach sports a laughable 22-35 record without Newton.
In the nearly 22 months since Auburn beat Oregon for the BcS title, the Ducks are 19-2. The Tigers? They’re just 9-11 since claiming a crystal trophy almost solely on the right arm and both legs of Newton. In fact, in the BcS era (1998-present), the worst record an Associated Press national champion has accrued in the two years after winning a title had been LSU, which went 17-9 in 2008 and 2009 after winning the ’07 title.
The collapse the past two seasons, particularly in 2012, is unprecedented in the modern era. Is it unprecedented enough to bring such an abrupt change at the head-coaching position such a short time after claiming a title?
Tick… tick… tick…
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah