As Auburn made its surprising run to a BcS title last season, the Tigers survived a series of close calls during the course of compiling their unblemished record and a nation’s best 17-game winning streak. In fact, a whopping total of 10 of those wins were by eight points or less.
Today’s game against Clemson, though was the rarity during their streak — a game decided by more than eight points. Unfortunately for the Tigers, it wasn’t decided in their favor.
As has been the case the first two weeks of the season, AU’s defense struggled yet again, allowing well over 600 yards of total offense — 624 to be precise — to Clemson and leading directly to 38-24 loss. In particular, the Auburn defense struggled mightily to contain a passing attack controlled by Tajh Boyd.
Whether because of the frenzied pace of Clemson’s offense or the fact that their entire secondary decided to take part in Spirit’s new pregame ritual of slamming into luxury box windows, Auburn was dazed and confused all afternoon long and simply had no answers for Boyd, who threw for 386 yards and four touchdowns yards in the ACC school’s third-straight win to open the season.
And it wasn’t just the passing game Auburn’s defense struggled to stop; pick a stat, any stat. Rushing yards? 238, which isn’t a surprise as they came into the game 118th — out of 120 teams — in the country allowing 280 yards per game. On third downs, the Tigers allowed the, ummm, Tigers to convert 14 of those 18 situations into first downs.
Auburn has an offense that is capable of competing in the SEC. The defense? It’s not capable of competing in the SBC let alone the top college football conference in the country.
Gene Chizik certainly has some talent to work with — on both sides of the ball despite the defensive stats — but it is so young, so inexperienced, so damn raw. For that reason, the Tigers will take their lumps, but will be a better team for it at the end of the season and into 2012 for having gained this very painful experience.
As for the ACC Tigers? Hands down it was the biggest win of Dabo Swinney‘s three-plus years with the Tigers, as exemplified by his Howard Dean impersonation during the postgame interview. Swinney was certainly edging toward the hot seat heading into 2-011; three wins to start the season, including one as big as today’s, will go a long way in quieting the natives. Provided the winning trajectory continues upward, of course.