Back in my TV days, I was assigned to cover the 2008 Tennessee-Auburn game. Let me tell you, folks… that was quite the experience.
I’ve watched a lot of football in my time, and I’ve never seen anything like that contest. The fourth quarter alone featured seven consecutive three and outs. There were eight punts. During one incredible sequence of eight possessions, the Vols and Tigers combined for 27 plays that netted a grant total of 19 yards.
Auburn scored more points (14-12), but really, there were no winners that afternoon.
Ten years and a couple of weeks later, the Vols are finally heading back to the Plains. And honestly? Right now, the way both offenses are playing, a 14-12 final score isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.
If they can even get to 26 points…
Last weekend Auburn could only muster three field goals in a loss at Mississippi State. They’ve failed to rush for over one hundred yards in three straight games. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham has taken a step back this season, and head coach Gus Malzahn is once again hearing the grumblings from Tigers fans, despite signing a new contract in the off-season for Charlie Weis buyout level money.
Auburn is 4-2, and still has to play at Georgia and at Alabama. The Tigers won’t be defending their SEC West title this year.
As for Tennessee, if the local sports talk shows are any indication, the honeymoon for Vols offensive coordinator Tyson Helton lasted five games. They only gained 209 yards against Georgia on September 29th, a week after the offense committed five turnovers in a blowout loss to Florida.
This should be the time when redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano is allowed to take more chances downfield. Perhaps this will be the game that happens. Tennessee is 2-3 and without opening things up more on offense, I’m not sure how this team gets to six wins and a bowl game.
If you go on the Auburn football website, you can buy an upper deck ticket to the Tennessee game for $130. Local kickoff time? 11am.
Personally, I think you would be better served putting that cash into an envelope, then putting that envelope into a shredder.
This game will be ugly. Despite their issues, Auburn still is a top 25 team (currently ranked 21st) and frankly has more top 25 talent on the roster than their opponents. That’ll make the difference.
Fearless Prediction time…
Auburn 14-Tennessee 12.
(Mark’s Fearless Prediction Record in 2018: 4-1)
(Mark Nagi is the author of “Decade of Dysfunction: The Road to Tennessee’s Crazy Coaching Search,” which takes an in-depth look at the ten years of frustration that led to a revolt by Vols fans after UT attempted to hire Greg Schiano as its head coach in 2017.)
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