Why Auburn's success is no fluke

Stout ground game, creative play calling could propel Tigers to SEC title tilt

Updated: November 11, 2013, 11:26 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider

Nick MarshallMichael Chang/Getty ImagesAuburn QB Nick Marshall, who has rushed for 734 yards this year, is part of the Tigers' ground attack.

When a team is said to be turning the clock back nearly 30 years, it is often meant as an insult. But in the case of the 2013 Auburn Tigers, that statement turns out to be a compliment. Last week, Gus Malzahn's club went to Knoxville, Tenn., and crushed the Tennessee Volunteers by a 55-23 score despite completing only three passes, which is the fewest number of passes in an Auburn win since 1985.

This run-focused, throwback offensive approach has worked to the tune of a 9-1 record this year, but is it really a formula the Tigers can use to overcome their defensive weaknesses and get past Georgia and Alabama in the next two weeks to earn a berth in the SEC championship game?

After reviewing metrics and game tape, it is clear that the answer is an emphatic "yes." Moreover, further examination of Auburn proves that the Tigers' success thus far is no fluke.