If Embattled Auburn coach Bryan Harsin – with Bryan as his middle name – has a chance to survive the regular season, or most of it, he will have to Show something this week.
Harsin, coming off a pitiful 41-12 home loss to Penn State, hosts Missouri on Saturday (Noon, ESPN). Auburn (2-1) is actually a touchdown favorite to beat Missouri (2-1) and its sliding coach Eli Drinkwitz. The Tigers suffered a 40-12 loss at Kansas State two weeks ago.
That was made more embarrassing a week later when 16.5-point underdog Tulane won 17-10 at Kansas State,while Missouri beat Abilene Christian, 34-17, inside the 24-point spread.
After Missouri, Auburn hosts LSU, which is looking much better considering its dominating, 31-16 win over Mississippi State last week. But that could still be a good game. If Harsin somehow gets past Missouri and LSU to go to 4-1, Auburn might be able to save some buyout money – as if THAT’S important. Money grows on yellow wood in those parts, courtesy of Great Southern Wood.
If Harsin loses to Missouri, he could be done before the weekend is out.
In the meantime, Harsin seems to have taken the approach that LSU coach Ed Orgeron did last year after he was fired but allowed to finish the string. Harsin has not been officially fired, but it seems like he’s playing out the string. Orgeron basically just went through the motions over LSU’s last half of the season. Harsin, some say, is not having any contact with high school coaches in Alabama for recruiting purposes.
The Malaise on the Plains continues.
Auburn will be without two quarterbacks Saturday as junior starter TJ Finley will be out with a shoulder injury suffered in the Penn State loss. And No. 3 quarterback Zach Calzada, the Texas A&M transfer who started there last year as a freshman, is out for the season after deciding to have surgery on his shoulder.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Robby Ashford deserves a full game anyway. Finley threw four interceptions through three games and is 97th in the nation in efficiency at 121.7 on 33-of-53 passing for 431 yards and one touchdown. The only SEC quarterbacks worse are South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler at No. 102 with a 116.1 rating and Florida’s Anthony Richardson at No. 117 at 89.0. More on Richardson later.
Ashford’s efficiency numbers are worse than Finley’s at 120.8, but he has only thrown 29 times, completing 15 for 245 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. But he is a much better runner than Finley. Ashford has gained 158 yards on 24 carries. Auburn’s backup will be freshman Holden Geriner, who has not played. There is no other quarterback on scholarship.
Auburn also continues to look for a new athletic director. How about combining the two jobs like in the old days? Bear Bryant was coach and athletic director at Alabama. So was Alabama football coach Ray Perkins. And Pat Dye was Auburn’s football coach and athletic director. Auburn’s boosters will need something to spice up the job.
Auburn is 17-17 in the SEC over the last four seasons and is 31-22 overall. And Kirby Smart is becoming Nick Saban right next door to the east at Georgia, and Saban looks to still be Saban for a few more years to the west at Alabama. Tennessee and Florida are also looking better.
By 2023, Auburn will likely have its fourth new coach since 2009. Hey, Scott Frost is available, and he may be checking into NSRP (Nick Saban Rehabilitation Program) soon just in time for a fresh approach to next season.
It just keeps happening at Auburn, and it seems a little less significant each time. Auburn’s brand is upheaval, and the brand is getting weary.
“The old guard at Auburn never stops,” a life long Auburn follower with connections recently told me. “They live. They meddle. They die.”
So, does that mean they keep meddling after death? Seems like it.
LSU FORCED WILL ROGERS INTO ONE OF WORST GAMES
In LSU’s 31-16 win over Mississippi State on Saturday, State quarterback Will Rogers threw for 214 yards on 24-of-42 passing with a touchdown and interception. He was sacked four times. That was his fewest number of completions and lowest number of yards since a win over Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl in 2020.
State led 13-0 late in the second quarter, but was outscored 31-3 from that point on, which concerns State coach Mike Leach.
“I think we’re a little quick to get discouraged,” Leach said. “We’re kind of fragile as far as getting discouraged when we face adversity, and we’ve got to fight through that.”
SATURDAY PREDICTIONS (Draft Kings Spreads)
Missouri (2-1) at Auburn (2-1, 7-point favorite), 12 p.m. eastern, ESPN … Auburn 20, Missouri 13
Bowling Green (1-2) at Mississippi State (2-1, 30-point favorite), 12 p.m., SEC Network … Mississippi State 47, Bowling Green 13
Kent State (1-2) at No. 1 Georgia (3-0, 45-point favorite), Noon, SEC Network +, ESPN + … Georgia 58, Kent State 6
No. 20 Florida (2-1) at No. 11 Tennessee (3-0, 10.5-point favorite), 3:30 p.m., CBS … Tennessee 31, Florida 20
Tulsa (2-1) at No. 16 Ole Miss (3-0, 21.5-point favorite), 4 p.m., SEC Network … Ole Miss 38, Tulsa 17
No. 10 Arkansas (3-0) vs. No. 3 Texas A&M (2-1, 2-point favorite), in Arlington, Texas, 7 p.m., ESPN … Arkansas 27, Texas A&M 14
Northern Illinois (1-2) at No. 8 Kentucky (3-0, 26.5-point favorite), 7 p.m., ESPN2 … Kentucky 42, Northern Illinois 10
Vanderbilt (3-1) at No. Alabama (3-0, 40.5-point favorite), 7:30 p.m., SEC Network … Alabama 49, Vanderbilt 7
New Mexico (2-1) at LSU (2-1, 31.5-point favorite), 7:30 p.m., SEC Network+, ESPN+ … LSU 51, New Mexico 13
Charlotte (1-3) at South Carolina (1-2, 22.5-point favorite), 7:30 p.m., ESPNU … South Carolina 45, Charlotte 21
1.Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) 2. Alabama (3-0) 3. Kentucky (3-0, 1-0 SEC) 4. Arkansas (3-0, 1-0 SEC) 5. Florida (2-1, 0-1) 6. Tennessee (3-0) 7. Ole Miss (3-0) 8. Texas A&M (2-1) 9. LSU (2-1, 1-0) 10. Mississippi State (2-1, 0-1) 11. Auburn (2-1) 12. Missouri (2-1) 13. South Carolina (1-2, 0-2) 14. Vanderbilt (3-1)
STAT OF THE WEEK
Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson has fallen out of the triple digits in passing efficiency at 89.0. Additionally, he is worst in the SEC and 117th out of 121 quarterbacks in the nation recorded in the NCAA statistics on 41-of-77 passing for 423 yards with zero touchdowns and four interceptions. Only 12 quarterbacks of the 121 are not in triple figures. And only six of the 121 have failed to throw a touchdown.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“So you think there was a sentence or two that wasn’t said last week? I mean, I left out a phrase maybe, couple words, maybe a key adjective here or there?”
-Mississippi State coach Mike Leach when asked if there was anything more he could tell his team to help them not be fragile, which he brought up previously.