It's dangerous to read too much into any first-week performance, given that college football has no preseason and opponents might be better or worse than we assume. So it was relatively easy to write Auburn's shaky win over Louisville off as nothing more than opening-day jitters, and assume that the Tigers' hopes of winning the SEC and perhaps making their way into the college football playoffs were still intact.
Not anymore. After the narrowest of escapes against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks -- a quality FCS program, mind you, but an FCS program nonetheless -- it's now safe to say that No. 6 Auburn was vastly overrated coming into this game.
"We’re 2-0, and that’s a positive," Gus Malzahn told the SEC Network after the game, and it was about the only positive that could be found. Jacksonville State rolled up 438 yards of total offense against Auburn, outgaining the Tigers (though on a lower per-play average). The Gamecocks converted nine of 19 third- and fourth-down opportunities. It's too early to assess it completely right now, but Will Muschamp's vaunted overhaul of the Tigers' defense at the very least isn't having an immediate impact.
Jeremy Johnson's finally line wasn't dreadful (21-of-32 for 236 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions), but the picks he threw were often critical, and might have been back-breaking if Jacksonville State had played its cards right. But after Auburn tied things late in the game -- largely, though not exclusively, through its running attack -- the Gamecocks decided to settle for overtime with 39 seconds left and the ball on their own 35-yard line. Auburn managed to score in overtime, and JSU quarterback Eli Jenkins took a bad sack on third down, and the Tigers managed to hold on.
That was how Auburn managed to avoid being only the second Top 10 team in history to lose to an FCS opponent. (The first being Michigan against Appalachian State back in 2007.) The way things go in college football, even as flimsy a win as this one won't be enough to knock the Tigers out of the rankings. But based on what we've seen so far, Auburn is not a Top 25 team. Making that official -- whether in a loss at LSU next week or somewhere else -- is only a formality.