I have been to the World Series, NFL games, the Final Four, the BCS Championship, an Elvis concert and even a couple of World Fairs, but for pure entertainment value it would be difficult to top the Johnny Football Show that is currently available for viewing in College Station, Texas, and occasionally at other Southeastern Conference football venues.
Despite Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel doing almost everything except marching into Kyle Field with the Aggies’ Corps of Cadets last Saturday, Coach Gus Malzahn’s Auburn Tigers managed to overcome a magnificent performance by the Heisman Trophy winner and get out of town with an exciting 45-41 victory.
In the process, Auburn improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in league play. With the rash of upsets around the conference, the Tigers now control their destiny in a quest to earn a spot in the SEC Football Championship Game.
Although it certainly won’t be easy, if the Tigers win their four remaining league games they will represent the western division in the league title game on December 7th in Atlanta.
The way they are playing now, the Tigers could be a solid favorite in three of those contests, especially if quarterback Nick Marshall, the current SEC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Texas A&M, continues to improve.
One of the benefits of playing in college football’s most respected conference is if you win against the top ranked teams in the league your team earns plenty of respect.
After last year’s crash-and-burn season, respect for the Tigers this year was slow-coming, but they are now getting it following their second win over a Top 25 opponent this season.
Malzahn’s guys are on the verge of breaking into the Top 10 nationally. That’s not too shabby for a team that many dismissed as not worthy of being picked among the 10 best teams in the SEC back in the summer when Auburn players were mentioning that one of their goals for the 2013 season was to win the SEC Championship.
Heading into game eight this week vs. Florida Atlantic, the Tigers are playing exciting football, but need to become more consistent if they are going to earn a spot in this year’s SEC title game at the Georgia Dome. However, if they keep on improving like they have done week after week, they will have a chance, and that is a huge step forward for a team that didn’t win an SEC game last year.
— Mark Murphy covers AU athletics for The Auburn Villager and he publishes Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine.