Auburn even worse off than originally thought

Auburn Tigers head coach Gene Chizik (L) and defensive player of the game Nick Fairley kiss the championship trophy after defeating the Oregon Ducks in the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in Glendale, Arizona, January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

If you do a Google search for the phrase “Auburn disrespected” it returns 1,160 results (in 0.16 seconds … Congratulations, Google). The Tigers were the defending national champions, yet came into the season ranked No. 23 in Associated Press poll, which ruffled some feathers down in Alabama.

This ranking was obviously wrong. Unfortunately for Auburn, not in the direction it was thinking.

The Tigers looked like a shell of their national-championship selves on Saturday, needing an onside kick and a late rally to defeat Utah State 42-38 at home.

Everyone knew Auburn would be down with the losses of Cam Newton and Nick Fairley to the NFL, but I don’t think anyone figured it would be this far down. The Tigers were a 24-point favorite against the Aggies, who are better known as that team you sometimes pick to win a couple of games in the NCAA basketball tournament.

Not only did Utah State nearly upset the defending national champion, it controlled the line of scrimmage against it until the final three minutes, when it was in a prevent defense. The Aggies did whatever they wanted offensively, especially on the ground rushing for more than 200 yards, while Auburn struggled to get anything going in the run game. That doesn’t happen in these games. Normally these early-season close calls are born out of turnovers and big plays, not long, sustained touchdown drives.

Maybe Utah State is going to be good this year, who knows. It plays in the WAC, and with Boise State gone, maybe it can make a little run. But that’s irrelevant.

If Auburn has trouble going toe-to-toe with Utah State, imagine how tough it’s going to be when it plays any SEC West opponent? If Utah State runs for 200-plus against Auburn, what will Trent Richardson and Alabama do?

Yes, there are a ton of new starters for the Tigers, so it’s going to take some time to round into shape. But like I said, today was less about execution and more about losing at the point of attack. Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn have a lot of work to do if Auburn has any thoughts of finishing this season in the top 25.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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