Sept. 17, 2013
Bobby Petrino's Western Kentucky team, two weeks after beating Kentucky, lost to South Alabama last Saturday.
Steve Spurrier lost five or more games for six consecutive seasons at South Carolina before going 11-2 in 2011.
Nick Saban went 7-6 his first season at Alabama.
Rich Rodriguez almost won a national championship at West Virginia and couldn't get out of his own way at Michigan.
Mack Brown was a great coach when he had Vince Young and friends. Now he's on the hot seat.
You get the point.
Outstanding college football coaches go through difficult times. And it's usually because, for one reason or another, they don't have the pieces to the puzzle they need to win big. If they are missing enough pieces, they not only don't win big, they lose a lot. Those pieces are more easily assembled at some schools than at others.
That doesn't mean the team with the most talent always wins. But in the shark-infested waters of the Southeastern Conference, you'd better have enough talent and enough experience if not the most. And that brings us to the Auburn football team of 2013, Gus Malzahn's first.
When Auburn goes to Baton Rouge on Saturday, it will not have as much talent, 1-85, as LSU. Nor, later in the season, will it have as much as Georgia or Alabama. Texas A&M? Top to bottom, I'm not so sure, though Johnny Manziel makes up for a lot of shortcomings. But having the most and having enough to win aren't always the same thing.
The real question is if Auburn has enough talent with enough experience to beat any or all of those teams. And we just don't know.
The first indication will come Saturday night at No. 6 LSU, but that won't be the final answer. It will just be one answer for a team that should be better each week than the week before.
The Tigers took a giant step in the right direction with last Saturday's stirring 24-20 victory over Mississippi State. Quarterback Nick Marshall
directed an 88-yard drive to the winning touchdown. They will go to LSU with a 3-0 record, loads of momentum and the absolute belief that they can win.
"It does something for our whole team," Malzahn said. "I mean, I think it gives you a shot in the arm. They know they can do it, and they found a way to do it at home. And I thought that was huge."
Yes, it was.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: