If you didn’t read my LSU game recap, then let’s just get this on the table right away.
I hate Auburn.
Hate them with a burning passion.
I hate them more than FSU- and I absolutely DESPISE that stupid tomahawk chop.
But Auburn has an incredibly annoying habit that FSU does not- they beat Florida by a field goal EVERY TIME. Doesn’t matter who’s ranked higher, doesn’t matter who has loads more talent, they always win by a field goal. Five of the last six Auburn victories have been by 3 points, and the one that wasn’t was because Auburn picked up a fumble on a desperation hook and lateral and took it in for a TD as time expired. Auburn won that one, 27-17.
So we’ve established that this team has an extremely frustrating knack for escaping with wins over Florida.
Now let’s forget the histroy and look to the here and now.
Auburn’s offense has put up the points needed to win most of their games. But Charlie Weis has to be salivating for a chance to rebuild his offense’s confidence against a truly pathetic Auburn defense. They never were that good last year, but were good enough to ride Nick Fairley (and Cam Newton) to a national championship. Now he and Josh Bynes are gone, and their defense has been exposed for the sieve that it is. The Gators’ offense should have a field day.
Now that the killer defenses are out the way, Charlie Weis should have more room to create those one on one mismatches. Auburn does not have the speed defensively to match up with Rainey at all. When Demps is healthy, he’s equally dangerous, and having Andre Debose step up as a potential big play guy was the biggest positive I took out of the last two games.
Jacoby Brissett will likely start again this week, according to Muschamp. Then again, he said Driskel would start last week and he did not. Either way, the Gators now have the QB bootleg as an option if there’s nobody open, which is also a plus.
My guess is that Weis will instantly go to the swing pass and run game and see how that works out. If defenders cannot stop Rainey, he will have Brissett go deep in a one on one matchup. The Gators’ success in this game will depend on the effectiveness of the small stuff, so it could open up the big stuff.
Auburn, on the other hand, has to be salivating over a chance to unleash Michael Dyer on Florida’s stunningly weak front 7. Unless Florida can man up in the trenches, they have exactly zero chance to win the game, as Gene Chizik has absolutely no problem running Dyer 25 times for 200 yards. But their defense has been shaky. They’ve had good performances, and not so good performances. Mostly they’ve been awful. They will look to cure that against a freshman QB and an offense with a gigantic question mark.
When the Tigers are on offense, expect a lot of Dyer to start out. I would also look for Kiehl Frazier, the backup freshman QB for a change of pace. If Florida can’t stop those two, they’re dead. The biggest advantage Florida has is that Auburn’s offensive line isn’t exactly rock solid.
So Florida’s offense and defense each need an ego booster, as does Auburn’s defense. However, Auburn’s D needs it more since they’ve been horrendous, while Florida’s units have struggled against the two best teams in the country.
Now that those two ugly games are in the rearview mirror, I wouldn’t say that we should look too heavily into them. Those teams are both phenomonal, and one of them will almost surely win the BCS Championship. The one thing that concerns me… is the PENALTIES.
That’s an easy fix, but then it’s not. Muschamp prides himself on having an aggressive team, and penalties come with it. It’s a package deal. It’s the silly procedural penalties that will ultimately kill this team.
This game will shape both teams’ seasons more than any other. It’s a game both teams absolutely need to win to finish where they want to. And it will likely come down to a single drive, or play… or mistake.