The insane stat that cost Auburn a shot at the SEC title
Over the past few weeks, fans have come up with all sorts of crazy hypotheticals, in terms of what could happen in the College Football Playoff race.
But the craziest one might have been this: At 7-2 and 5-1 in league play, all Auburn had to do was beat Georgia to set up a “winner takes the SEC West” showdown in the Iron Bowl against Alabama. And if Auburn beat 'Bama, it would set up that perfect storm of craziness: The Tigers would win the SEC West title, potentially knocking Alabama out of a playoff berth. After all, could Alabama make the playoff if it wasn't even SEC champ?
Well, that hypothetical was eliminated Saturday, as Auburn lost a stunner to rival Georgia, 13-7. It means that Alabama officially clinches the SEC West title. And barring something catastrophic for the Crimson Tide — say a loss to Auburn, and one in the SEC title game — they'll be in the playoff.
But instead of focusing on Alabama, let's look at Auburn, and the insane stat that cost the Tigers the game. That stat: Auburn didn't get a single first down in the second half. The Tigers were held to just 32 yards of total offense.
That's incredible when you consider that Auburn entered the game as one of college football's hottest offenses. The Tigers led the SEC in total offense — averaging 494 yards per game — but were held to just 164 total yards on Saturday. They also came in averaging 34 points per game, topping the 40-point mark in three of their past five games.
Unfortunately for Auburn, Georgia had all the answers on Saturday.
With the loss, some things fall into place for both these two teams, and the entire SEC. Georgia clinched bowl eligibility in year one under Kirby Smart and picked up its most important victory of the season — a season that had been marred by disappointment to date. After losing back-to-back games Vanderbilt and Florida, the Bulldogs now have won two in a row after a last-second win over Kentucky last week.
As for Auburn, well, it also means that its shot an SEC West title is over and, therefore, a shot at the SEC title and playoff berth. From here, all the Tigers can do is play spoiler for Alabama in two weeks in the Iron Bowl, and wait to find out where they're going bowling.
And in the end, the Tigers have no one to blame but themselves for one of the most stunning results — and offensive outputs — for any team this season.
Yeesh. Auburn's O was horrible in the 2nd half, had 7 drives, 0 first downs, 32 yards:
Pick-six, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, downs
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) November 12, 2016