During the 2019 football season, The Villager will run comments from a focus group on results of the previous Auburn University game and a prognostication for the upcoming game. We’ve collectively labeled the group, Panel of Wanna-Be Experts, or POWE! for short.

Here are the panel's comments for the Tigers' home matchup with Samford on Saturday:



Auburn has weathered three disappointing defeats in its most important SEC games thus far this fall, the latest being a bitter last minute 21-14 loss to arch-rival Georgia.

The frustration is that the Tigers could (should?) have won all three games, though two were in difficult road settings.

On Nov. 30, Auburn will be looking for redemption in the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

But before the Tigers can fully focus on Alabama, they must shake off the 12th loss in their past 15 games to UGA and take on overmatched Samford.

Don’t be surprised if Auburn sleepwalks out of the gate against a tamer breed of Bulldogs.

Even though the Tigers are so heavily favored to beat Samford that Vegas posted no early odds, it will be an 11 a.m. kick at Jordan-Hare.

And Auburn doesn’t have a very happy history with pre-noon televised games. But the Tigers will wake up enough to easily dispatch their Southern Conference opponent.

It may take the Tigers a quarter or more to get the sleep out their eyes, but eventually it will be an easy win that will take a bit of the sting out of the failed fourth quarter comeback against Georgia.

Samford has a 5-6 record that remarkably includes four overtime games in which the Bulldogs went 1-3. But don’t look for overtime Saturday.

The superlative Auburn defense (Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson & Co.) will play its normal dominating game, and the offense will pull it all together again in front of a friendly, if less frenzied crowd.

Bo Nix, Seth Williams and the rest of the offense should relax and have some fun in a tune-up for the Tua-less Crimson Tide.

Make it: Auburn 55, Samford 3

Bob Lowry, retired political reporter for United Press International, and three daily newspapers



This was a beautiful November Saturday for football. Our fans showed up with hopes of winning. It was a good defensive game. We gave up a couple of big plays to Georgia that cost us the game. It was a clean game without many penalties. Auburn offense had no penalties. Of course we had no offense for three quarters. We never got in the red zone until 10 minutes to go in game. You have to play four quarters to win. I don’t know whether it was our play-calling, or executing the play, or a combination of both, but our offense in the first half was a train wreck. We had terrible field position the entire first half.

In the fourth quarter, I think the Dawgs' defense was tired. During the game we ran 20 more plays than they did. I think that was the reason we were able to score. Also, Nix’s determination. Add another 10 minutes to the game and we win. Nix played hard. He knew what a win would mean to our fans and Auburn. He has made many mistakes this season that may have cost us a game or two. He is our QB for the future. Nix will get better. Gus needs to realize our kicker is not his brother. He does a good job with kickoffs, short field goals and extra points. We need to recruit a kicker for long field goals.

I knew we would not get calls to go our way. Have you ever seen so may calls for Auburn, get reviewed, and overturned for Georgia? The officials have been coached by the SEC office to give the benefit of doubt to Georgia. They want a UGA- LSU match-up in Atlanta. With a UGA win over LSU, it gets two teams in the big dance.

Too little, too late. We did not lose because of our fans or our defense. When you have a defense like ours, you can stay in every game. 

On to our next game. Samford will take the two-hour bus ride from Homewood with hopes of an upset and receive a pocket full of money. They will arrive Friday, play the game Saturday, bus back to Homewood and smile all the way to the bank. 

We can use a game like this to heal our wounds both physically and mentality. The UGA game was hard fought and physical. Many of our players left their all on the field. Hopefully, we can rest some of our key players and get a look at some of our young players, especially our backup QB. 

The Samford Bulldogs will come in excited and hope for a miracle. They will play hard for a few series and then reality will kick in. They have good players and are well coached. The Pittsburgh Steelers back-up QB played at Samford. We should take care of business and send the Bulldogs home with their tail between their legs.

In a blowout, Auburn 56, Samford 7.  

Wendell McLain, Auburn retired brigadier general, Alabama National Guard



This Saturday, another bunch of Bulldogs will take center stage at Jordan-Hare versus our Tigers. It should be no contest. I’m just hoping that we get a big lead early and let the reserves get in a lot of playing time.

Our coaches may say that they are not looking ahead to the regular season finale against Alabama. They will be lying. With a current 5-6 record, Samford will not get to .500 this year. If they do pull off a monumental upset, we’d better cancel our game with the guys from Tuscaloosa and our coaches should immediately go into a witness protection program.

The only good that I see from Auburn playing a team like Samford is that it does give our team a chance to lick its wounds from the disappointing loss to Georgia and have some fun on the field in front of the home crowd. Last week’s loss hurt and it should have. Marlon Davidson said, “Just knowing that you did all that, knowing that you can’t come in the locker room and celebrate. It’s just — it’s a hard pill to swallow.” And indeed it was.

The defense blamed themselves for allowing the Bulldogs to score three touchdowns, but they actually held them to 11 points under their season average. Last week, most of the Wannabe Experts here picked Georgia to score between 21-28 points, but we all picked Auburn to score just a few more. Sadly, that didn't happen.

As we all know, our offense sputtered for nearly 50 minutes before finally coming to life and clicking off some fine plays in the fourth quarter. Too little, too late. We see some potential but are past the point in the season where the word “potential” is a soothing term.  

Our hearts continue to break for the fine play of our defense, which deserves to be undefeated at this point in the season. Instead, we will end the regular season at 8-4 or 9-3, and the 2019 team will probably be remembered more for lost opportunities than for amazing victories. Of course, winning “The Big One” on November 30 can definitely erase a lot of disappointment and make our players, coaches and fans stand a little taller and prouder for the following 365 days. More on that next week.

Before that, we need to have some fun at the expense of the Samford Bulldogs. Hopefully, we won’t struggle as we did against Ole Miss following our loss to LSU and will give our fans plenty to cheer about. A lopsided victory will also improve the atmosphere in the locker room after the game. Winning by a score of 49-10 would do that. 

Betty Burgess, retired English teacher, Auburn grad and lifelong Auburn fan



Auburn faces FCS foe Samford Bulldogs in a tune-up game before the Iron Bowl. The outcome of this game isn’t in doubt and, quite frankly, what is there really to say about it?

Against Georgia, the Tiger defense continued to do more than enough to win the ballgame, recording a staggering nine three-and-outs and holding them to 20 yards on their 12 non-scoring drives. If those numbers aren’t impressive enough, consider that UGA was held to two offensive yards in the fourth quarter. Simply incredible numbers. It would be extremely easy for this defensive unit to mail it in after yet another dominating performance while getting no help from the offense, but they continue to bring it week after week. We have the pleasure of watching the best Auburn defense in more than 30 years play just three more games. Enjoy it!

Same story, different game for the offense last week. Solid first drive with scripted plays to open the game, then a whole lot of nothing until they caught lightning in a bottle in the fourth quarter only to come up short. Gus has always said his offense is a downhill, power running offense and history has borne that out; Bo Nix coming out and throwing 25 first half passes was the antithesis of that. I believe Auburn only ran the ball on consecutive plays one time in the first half and maybe not more than twice the entire game. They have got to get back to running the football which I hope to see a lot of this week.

The goal this week is simply to escape the game healthy and play a lot of backups. Samford is a completely outmatched opponent so the offense will put up big numbers and the defense won’t break a sweat. Auburn wins 41-0.

Brandon Hughes, Lee County

district attorney



Well, doggone, literally. Our guys came out on the short end of another close one. The difference being that it is the first time this year to happen at the house. 

The woofers are pretty good at football, especially their defense, and kept us looking for a seam for three quarters. Long about the fourth quarter we got on track and had the UGA faithful on short bay until just a few minutes remained. 

Our defense played well (as usual), but we just flat let the pups get up too much in the point department. If the Tiger offense could have started a bit earlier, then this game would have been different. 

One thing seems apparent. We have played some very good teams this year and have held our own. A few breaks here and there and we may not have had any in the “L” column! 

Say what you will about our young QB but as I stated before, he is going to be a force as he goes forward. The kid is gonna get better and will help get AU some wins in close games down the road. 

This week brings another set of dogs to town with the FCS Samford bunch coming for a visit. Samford has more “L”s than “W”s but has been competitive in most of their games this season. Interesting fact: Samford has had ten overtime periods this year with four in one game and three in another! Guess they like pushing the cardiac unit in Birmingham to stay on their toes. Hmmm, sounds like another team I know. 

Anyway, this weekend will probably not result in overtimes as the AU guys have way more horsepower to utilize than our Jefferson county friends. Auburn gets win No. 8. AU 48, Samford 13.

Jay Jones, Lee County sheriff



I predicted we would upset Georgia 27-21, but wrote that we had to have offense as Georgia has one the top run defenses in the SEC.

And I wrote that Nix needed plenty of short pass routes so he could make completions. We had very little offense in first half and actually made a pretty good come-back effort in the second half. But it was too little too late. It is clear that we can compete in SEC but just don’t have the offense this year to win in the top tier of the SEC. 

Our running game is getting shut down. And part of the problem is our passing game has not clicked enough to open up the run game. Hopefully, we will work on that before Bama.

We should easily beat Samford 35 to 7, or more. But we need to work on offense and keep the offensive starters in as long as possible.

It should also be treated like a day of practice. And we must avoid injuries as the Alabama game is coming up.  We should be able to play against Bama’s defense but the big question is can we control their offense. I thought LSU ripped Bama worse than they did us.  Luckily, I have more time before I have to predict the Alabama score.

James Sprayberry, local attorney and longtime Auburn season ticket holder

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