Tank Bigsby touchdown

Running back Tank Bigsby celebrates after scoring a touchdown vs. Georgia

With the Tigers entering their bye week, let’s take a look back at the seven games that Auburn has played to get them to its 5–2 start to the season.

One of the biggest takeaways from the opening seven games is that Auburn has hung around in all of its match-ups, even in the losses. 

The Tigers’ two losses of the year both came at the hands of Top-10 teams in the country — at Penn State and a home date with Georgia. Against Penn State on the road, the Tigers were a fourth-and-goal away from having a chance to tie the game. Against Georgia, the Tigers had opportunities to get on the board early and often, but those chances slipped away like the dropped passes that have plagued receivers all season. 

Something to note is that Penn State and Georgia have the top two scoring defenses against the Power Five in the country, allowing 13.3 and 6.5 points per game, respectively. For the Auburn offense to have the chance to be in those games gives the team something to build off of. 

While the scoreboard may show that it was a three-possession loss at home, the match-up with Georgia was much closer than the final score showed. 

The Auburn defense — which played without Owen Pappoe, T.D. Moultry and lost Smoke Monday early in the second quarter to a targeting penalty — held the Bulldogs in check until late in the third and fourth quarter when the game was out of hand. 

What will need to change over the next five games of the regular season is taking advantage of opportunities — catching easy passes; Bo Nix not trying to force another Houdini-esque play when it’s unnecessary; the defense communicating with each other and among other issues. Head coach Bryan Harsin had wanted his team to play smart football throughout the season, and the Tigers have shown that they can do that. 

The dropped passes have really been the killer of the Auburn offense. Even after firing former receivers coach Cornelius Williams, the receivers did not see improvement until last weekend against Arkansas. 

According to PFF the Tigers had seven drops against the Bulldogs, but only had two last week — and neither of them were easily catchable balls. Look for Harsin to focus on dropped passes during the bye week. 

Taking a look at the recent win against Arkansas on Saturday, that is what is to be expected from the Auburn offense — do enough in the run game to set up play-action plays early, and then run the ball late in the game to drain the clock and seal a win. 

The addition of explosive plays throughout certainly are an added benefit as well. This is what has worked in both of Auburn’s SEC road wins against LSU and Arkansas, and look for them to continue that trend. Of the five games remaining on the Auburn schedule, three of those teams have allowed more than 130 rush yards per game (Texas A&M, South Carolina and Ole Miss). 

An interesting point is that Auburn still controls its own destiny. The Tigers will play five more SEC games in the regular season, including a season finale Iron Bowl against Alabama at home. 

If Harsin is able to take the momentum of an upset win into the bye week and come out hot against Ole Miss on Oct. 30, look out for some Auburn magic and the resulting poll chaos to wreak havoc at the end of the season. 

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