Auburn football: No turning back for Malzahn if he loses to Mississippi State

Auburn football at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020.
Auburn football at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. /

This borderline unforgivable 2020 schedule will have no point of return for Gus Malzahn if Auburn football can’t end the regular season on a high note against Mississippi State.

Gus Malzahn cannot actually be satisfied with Auburn football’s 5-4 2020 season. Read the following statement from his Sunday press conference with a grain of salt:

"“I think we’ve got a chance to have a really, really special year if the majority of our guys come back,” Malzahn said. “So I’m very excited about that.”"

While there is every reason to believe Malzahn’s squad could take a step forward if the bulk of the skill position players return, why should we believe it is going to be Malzahn at the helm? After all, this season has been an objective failure even if you forgive the three losses to current Top 10 ranked opponents.

Georgia, Alabama, and Texas A&M is a murderer’s row of opponents.

South Carolina is not.

When you play ten games, falling to a team that was able to claw out just one other win is like the enzymatic browning that happens to a banana. The War Eagle had to google that term by the way. He is most certainly not a science guy.

Anyway, the Gamecocks’ 2-10 record includes some severely embarrassing losses to teams like Kentucky (by 23!) and LSU (by 28!). For reference, the Tigers handled both of those teams by a combined 53, two more by the combined score those teams South Carolina beat Auburn football by.

I know football math doesn’t work like that, but come on. The Tigers couldn’t afford that loss. Not when they were going to barely beat Arkansas and Ole Miss.

The defense cannot be expected to hold Will Rogers and co. to three scores or less this Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium. Auburn has had difficulties with defenses that can stop the run, and Mississippi State has had one of the surprisingly stout defenses in the somewhat defensively challenged SEC this season according to Derrick Thomas of Maroon and White Nation:

"What was unknown is would the Bulldogs keep the defensive mentality that Mississippi State is known for. The Bulldog defense ranked 10th last year under former coach Joe Moorhead. I expected our defense to be decent but not outperform the offense week after week.The way the Bulldogs play defense can be credited to Zach Arnett. Coach Arnett brought back a familiar style of defense near and dear to Bulldog fans, the 3-3-5. I knew the front six would be stingy, but the secondary I questioned, especially after losing Jarrian Jones to a transfer to Florida State."

Since Thomas published that piece, the Bulldogs dropped two consecutive 31-24 contests against Georgia and Ole Miss. That said, it is an objectively scary thought if Bo Nix can’t get the offense going that the Tigers can fall to 5-5.

The way this season has gone, it isn’t impossible. If that happens, there is no turning back for Gus Malzahn. A Mississippi State loss would likely be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The thing is, it may already be broken. The first non-winning season–or the first possible non-bowl season since 2012–could result in a regime change in the Plains.

Next. 10 takeaways from Week 14 of college football. dark