OXFORD, Miss. – Clint Moseley said he, like any other athlete, craves getting the ball in his hands with the game on the line, and a chance to be the hero.
Six times this year, someone or another for Auburn has been called upon in those moments.
Six times, they’ve fallen short. Woefully short. Historically short.
Sixty-two to three.
Auburn has allowed opponents 62 points in the fourth quarter – its chief rival, Alabama, has given up 35 all year entering Saturday.
And that’s not even the most embarrassing fourth-quarter statistic.
Auburn has scored three points in 90 minutes with a big ‘4’ in the quarter display on the scoreboard.
“I don’t know if there’s any one thing I can put my finger on,” Moseley said. “Both teams make adjustments, and we’ve just got to finish.”
Three little points. One 36-yard field goal by Cody Parkey, with 12 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the season opener against Clemson, which gave the Tigers a 19-16 lead and put them on the brink of fulfilling what looked like a seriously promising year.
Hope has been reduced to dust. This anemic season is on life support – and perhaps that’s being generous – because in the 87 minutes and 50 seconds of fourth-quarter action since that kick Sept. 1, the Auburn Tigers have not scored a single point when it counts.
That’s 22 consecutive drives involving the fourth quarter without scoring. Ghastly.
Again, they have been gashed for 62 fourth-quarter points in that timeframe. Unsightly.
Auburn hasn’t been muzzled in the fourth quarter. It’s been utterly and atrociously absent.
Head coach Gene Chizik’s at a loss for words to explain the fourth-quarter follies, as is pretty much everyone else in that locker room.
“It’s different things, but it’s execution,” Chizik said. “We’re not executing at a high level in the fourth quarter, and …” his voice trailed off, following a long pause, “It’s disappointing.”
How bad was it Saturday? Ten plays, four yards. Against an Ole Miss team graciously letting opponents march 380 yards per game.
No, really, how bad was it Saturday? After Auburn summoned a phenomenal second quarter (hey, no pressure when the game’s not on the line, right?) with 17 unanswered points, Ole Miss outscored Auburn 27-3 the rest of the way, including 17-0 in the fourth. In case this was forgotten, Ole Miss hadn’t beaten an SEC team since Oct. 2, 2010.
Not a single team in the past decade has finished a season with more fourth-quarters than fourth-quarter points.
By the way, guess which FBS team scored the least 4th-quarter points in the country in 2011? That would be Ole Miss. Which, by the way, scraped by Saturday with a measly 149 fourth-quarter yards.
“We’ve got to be a four-quarter team,” sophomore safety Jermaine Whitehead said. “I think that’s been a problem all season.”
If that’s not understatement of the year …
Aaron Brenner, firstname.lastname@example.org