College football’s Week 4 the real beginning of season

Published 4:37 pm Tuesday, September 16, 2008

“I want to see a 3-2 game.” Doubt it if you must, but those words came out of my mouth the Friday before Auburn and Mississippi State battled to that very score. Brent Maze, our managing editor, and I were discussing the beauty of a defensive game when I turned all prophetic.

Watching a blitzing linebacker blindside a quarterback or a running back stood up and pushed backward by a swarming defense is better TV than a receiver in a too-clean uniform dance around in the end zone. While do enjoy low-scoring games, some can be ugly. The baseball game that broke out on Scott Field on Saturday is Exhibit A.

Auburn, especially, played a horrible game. Twelve penalties for 94 yards and three lost fumbles is usually good enough for a loss. Auburn’s new spread offense – and the guy that brought it to the Plains, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin – is now the target of Auburn fans’ displeasure.

If you must know, I let Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville borrow my crystal ball before the season began. Tuberville, remember, was the one saying how little things might change for the Tigers even when fans were dreaming of footballs flying through the air and weekly 50-point performances.

With few exceptions, Tuberville has won at Auburn with a conservative offense, a great defense and great special teams play.

The offense did churn out 315 total yards, and the mistakes are correctable. There might be more cause for concern with Auburn’s special teams play. Wes Byrum missed two of three field goal attempts, and the Bulldogs got their hands on one of Clinton Durst’s punts. If you’re going to take a conservative approach offensively, you can’t give up points or big plays in the kicking game.

We’ll find out just how much Auburn fans should worry this week when the Tigers of Louisiana State University come calling. This game is part of a slate of conference action that is as good as I can remember for this early in the season. The other quality matchups are: Florida at Tennessee, Alabama at Arkansas, Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, Georgia at Arizona State and Mississippi State at Georgia Tech.

The first three weeks have been interesting, but now the real season begins.