Friday, December 6, 2013
Auburn will play a total stranger for the SEC championship tomorrow.
Raise your hand if you thought Auburn would be playing for an SEC Championship at the beginning of the 2013 season. If you put your hand up, you're either a delusional optimist or a liar.
Missouri is in a similar boat as Auburn. They won 5 games last season, with only 1 SEC win in 2012 over a hapless Tennessee. If you are having a hard time gauging how good the Tigers really are, let me clear it up for ya, the Missouri Tigers are 11-1. Their resume is every bit as impressive as Auburn's.
A look into those wins is telling. They beat Georgia on the road after only a week after the Dogs were decimated with injuries. They manhandled Florida in a similar fashion. The dominated scrappy Vanderbilt on the road, as well as Tennessee at home. I for one was shocked at the relative ease in which they took care of Ole Miss in Oxford. And to finish it off they bested Johnny Football last week at home.
The only loss came in overtime to South Carolina. Missou led that game by 17 points, before Conner Shaw entered and led the Gamecocks to an amazing 4th quarter comeback.
So make no mistake, these guys we will line up against are good. The have a senior quarterback who has giants to throw to. The have a salty front four which is likely as good or better than the group Auburn beat last Saturday. They can score points and play defense.
What I am saying is Auburn better bring there A game to this one. And that has me concerned a little bit.
For the whole week Auburn has been the media darling (Pete Thamel excluded). While Auburn made every national news show replaying the miraculous finish in the Iron Bowl and national pundits debated if Auburn should jump unbeaten Ohio State, Missouri sat brooding in Columbia waiting for their own opportunity. My guess is they feel a little under-appreciated.
They will be looking to show the whole college football world they are every bit as deserving as Auburn as to being in the discussion for a national title.
In other words, get ready for another war.
I still think Auburn's run game is good enough to get it done. When we do pass, protecting against that very good defensive line will be a chore.
Defensively Auburn has to contain Franklin and stop the run game of Missouri. The secondary must be ready for a battle with big athletic receivers. Green-Beckham is the best pro prospect at receiver since Larry Fitzgerald.
And if and when we win this game, Auburn will be in the discussion for the BCS title, though I doubt it happens unless Ohio State loses (which is a distinct possibility). At this point, you just have to hope Auburn wins the SEC and let the chips fall where they may.
Here's hoping for one more week of magic in 2013.
School where all the sleazy sports Jornalists come from 35
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Chris Davis was an afterthought in the recruiting process in 2010. He was a three star "athlete". Chris is one of those diamonds in the rough that former Auburn coach Phillip Lolley finds from time to time. He hails from Woodlawn, a forgotten burrough of Birmingham. Their little town there doesn't have much. They share a football stadium with half a dozen other Birmingham schools on the east side of town.
From that little neighborhood to Auburn and Tuscaloosa, and everywhere else in the world of college football, Chris Davis's name is now legend. You will never forget where you were that night. I won't. My ticket stub from section 42 will be framed soon.
I try not to get too emotionally invested these days. I like to write about it, for sure. But 2011 and 2012 soured me. Not that I am a fairweather fan or anything, but the relentless dogging of Auburn football by the Thayer Evans and Selena Roberts of the world made me feel like I couldn't even enjoy Auburn's prosperity. That and Danny Sheridan's imaginary bagman.
Then there is the indisputable fact that Auburn will break your heart. She's broken mine more times than I can count. But I found myself misty eyed after the Marshall to Coates TD. I found tears rolling down my cheeks when I looked out onto Jordan Hare to see a sea of orange and blue clad fans storm the field after Chris Davis became a legend. It was one of those moments in sports that we long for that almost never happen.
And then it happened. And it is seared into your memory forever. And you are emotionally invested again. Just like that she has pulled you back in.
The game was everything a sports fan could ever want in terms of high drama. Alabama punched and punched and knocked Auburn down. Time and time again Auburn got back up.
Then the drive to tie the game. A drive with all running plays, save one. Marshall is not a passer. Surely that is what two Bama defensive backs must have thought as a wobbly pass found its way between them into the waiting arms of Sammie Coates. Sammy turned and ran with nothing but green grass ahead. At that moment I knew we would win. These guys are magic.
But I figured, like the rest of the 87,000 and changed inside Jordan-hare, that we would win in overtime. Auburn had solved the riddle of Alabama's defense, and they would have to go into the extra frame without a placekicker they trusted. I liked our chances to be sure.
But overtime never came, and for a brief moment when the review booth gave the Tide just one more second, I thought our hearts would be broken again. One second was all they needed to do something. One second.
That one second on the clock allowed Nick Saban to run out a placekicker that had not seen the field in the Iron Bowl. He would try a field goal of 57 yards. Oh Nick, pride and arrogance is a weakness. You learned that Saturday night. A guy who is arrogant enough to go for it on fourth and 1 instead of kicking a chip shot field goal to go up ten is surely arrogant enough to think his freshman kicker can make a 57 yarder.
As that one second ticked to 0:00 the ball fluttered short and to the right. Chris Davis was waiting.
Before the kick a lady behind me, probably in her 60's asked what number 11 was doing standing in the endzone. I leaned back and said he can return it like a kickoff if it is short.
Chris started right then veered left. And a wall formed. And no one in white was even close. Alabama's holder made an attempt to reach him at the 45, but instead of preventing history, history ran right by.
Chris ran right to us is section 42. He was mauled by teammates right in front of us. Two arms wrapped around my neck and that 60 something year old woman was kissing me on the cheek, right where that tear was rolling down. I guess I had answered her question.
It was bedlam in the stadium. I've never been in a mosh pit but I would imagine that is what it would be like. Then the fireworks. Then I said to the guy next to me "Boy there's a lot of media on the field."
"Are you crazy man? Those are students. Get your phone out and take pictures!!"
I got my phone out and did a video. Then my battery died. Then I stood and watched. For several minutes I stood there and watched. I could not (and still cannot) comprehend what I saw.
What crazy wonderful drug had I been given? It was euphoric. It was unreal.
It was 2013 Auburn football. And I will never forget it.
Friday, November 29, 2013
The eyes of the nation will be on Jordan Hare in less than 24 hours. Most of those, I would argue a vast majority, will be pulling hard for the orange and blue.
The nation is sick of Bama. Tired of Nick Saban and his condescending tongue-lashings. Sick of what even the man's wife says are spoiled rotten fans.
Yes. Forget about the Cowboys, Auburn is America's team this weekend. No one wants to see the evil empire play for a third straight national title. No one wants to see that forced evil smile on Nick Saban's face holding up another crystal football. No one wants to hear Brent Musberger verbally undress AJ McCarron's girlfriend on live TV.
The time has come for the the Tide to lose. Democrat or Republican, Red State, Blue state, it does not matter. They all say War eagle this weekend.
How does Auburn do it? The same formula holds true. Run the damn ball. Play action. Trick em. Out flank em. Be fast. Hit hard. The stadium will be jacked...and loud.
Oh will it be loud.
Defensively, Auburn must get to McCarron. Hit him. Rattle the cockiness right out of him. Dee Ford needs to know what his brand of cologne is by the time this thing is over.
Hit Yeldon. Hit him hard. Make him rue the day he flipped his commitment two years ago. Stir it up. Play with swagger. Bama does not believe Auburn is back. We have had to hear it on talk radio for two weeks. Serve. Them. Notice.
They will know quickly come tomorrow, that we are back.
It might have happened in the blink of an eye, but here we are. The Tide has to go through Auburn now to get to Atlanta. In our house. They are nervous as hell about November 30th at 2:30 PM, take that to the bank.
Win this game. Defy all odds. Defy every football pundit.
Win for Auburn. The nation is behind you.
War Eagle forever.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Iron Bowl week is upon us, and my oh my, how crazy a week it will be. And after a weekend where Baylor goes down in a flaming heap and Oregon loses big, the stage is set for a BCS championship elimination game...maybe.
Alabama can punch a ticket to a 3rd straight title game with a win over Auburn and a surprisingly stout Missouri, though neither is predestined. Auburn will most likely need some help to get there. Even with a win over Alabama and Missouri, Auburn will still need either Ohio State or Florida State to lose to get in to the national championship game.
The fact that I wrote that last paragraph at all tells you that win or lose come Saturday, Auburn has risen meteorically from the depths of despair in 2012.
The job Gus Malzahn and his staff have done since taking over the reigns last January has been simply astounding. In just a few short months, the attitude and psyche changed 180 degrees. WE figured he would have an easier time of it since he recruited most of these players. But 10-1 going into the Iron Bowl? I would've told you I had a better chance of walking on the moon.
No doubt, this weekend will be crazy. I will be down there in Auburn, tickets in hand to witness what will hopefully be one of those amazing Auburn Iron Bowl wins like 1989 or 1993. I am giddy.
Preview coming later this week. And if you are in Birmingham, just turn off the sports talk radio full of Bammer homers.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
It's Okay to watch this over and over again. You can trust me. I'm an optometrist.
To paraphrase myself before during and after the aptly named "Prayer in Jordan Hare". It went something like: Why the hell is he just throwing it up for...Oh my God, Oh My God. Whoooohoooooo!!!!!! I then proceeded to mumble that last part of the phrase for twelve hours.
I couldn't eat. I didn't sleep. I got home and watched the replay. This was after burning up my iphone battery on the gifs and video of everything associated with Marshall to Lewis.
Not lost upon me in all the hoopla is how much Auburn dominated that game for three quarters, only to nearly squander it away. If not for the catch, it really could have been one of the most epic of meltdowns ever to occur for Auburn.
I was witness to one of those in 1996, when Terry Bowden's Tigers blew a 21 point lead to a rudderless Georgia team, losing a five overtime game. It took me a while to get over the hangover from that one.
I wonder how long it takes the Georgia faithful to get over this one.
Auburn played three complete dominant quarters of football against a Georgia team that was close to its early season self. Auburn learned a valuable lesson: you better play all four. Especially against a quarterback as gutsy and as good as Aaron Murray. Yeah, I have given him grief about Nick Fairley and will probably give him more about Dee Ford, but he is a great player, and Georgia will miss that guy next year.
This will be one people talk about for 50 years. The dominant Auburn in the first three quarters. The resillient Georgia in the 4th. And one catch that probably should have never happened, but did.
In 11 days, Auburn plays Alabama for all the marbles. But fans, take just a little longer to savor this win.
Our old blogger buddy Rob's reaction is flat out priceless in this one. Pretty much how every Auburn person reacted.
10-1. One more guys. Come on.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Let's take a trip in the way-back machine to 2010. Auburn fell behind two touchdowns to Georgia and Aaron Murray, only to come roaring back to win in a laugher 49-31. One of the subplots from the game was Nick Fairley basically trying to end the existence of Aaron. Yes, Nick hit him late once, drawing a 15 yard penalty. The rest of his hits were legal, though hard hitting. Nick was doing his job that night and boy did he do it well.
To this day the Georgia faithful still complain about Nick. He's in the league now, wreaking havoc on NFL signal callers, and is considered Mr. Clean next to his comrade Donkey Kong Su (which is what I call him since I am too lazy right now to look up how to spell the guys name.
Odds are good that if Auburn beats Georgia Saturday, the Georgia faithful will whine like my 3 year old after I take the Ipad away. It's just their nature. For some reason they think they have an elite program. I think they have the right to feel like they should have an elite program (even though they don't). They are the only game in town (sorry ramblin wreck) in a state that is loaded with talent. Problem is they lose out on a lot of this talent to Auburn. Think about Cam Newton, Takeo Spikes, and Ronnie Brown, just to name a few. Georgia is a notch below Auburn historically, and I think that drives them nuts.
The game this weekend shows how high the stakes have been raised for Auburn. A win here and all of a sudden the Iron Bowl becomes epic. An Iron Bowl where the winner takes all.
But let's look at the task in front of us. Georgia will come to town with something to prove. They are healthier than they have been in weeks so they feel like they have a good shot at a win on the plains. Todd Gurley is back in the backfield, and he will make a difference, even at 80%. Murray is Murray. He plays well against Auburn, even though he still wets the bed thinking about Nick Fairley.
Georgia's defense will be the X factor in this. Can they stop Auburn's running game? Not likely, but they can slow it down and make Auburn throw. I have heard pundits all week like "expert" Tom Luginbill say that Auburn doesn't throw because they are deficient in that area. I wouldn't call it deficient. I would call it smart football. Run it till they stop it. That is football. ALways has been. It doesn't matter what the formation is. Nobody has come close to stopping Auburn's running game recently.
Auburn has been strategic all year in their offensive scheme. They have pretty much run it at will on everybody since the second half of the LSU game. Marshall has gotten better with accuracy, though he is far from polished. I also think he is better rolling out and throwing. Standing in the pocket, he looks like he babies throws, almost like he is thinking too much. On rollouts or scrambles, he seems to be much more accurate. It reminds me a lot of Auburn coach Dameyune Craig, who could roll out and chuck it 65 yards on a dime.
My guess is Auburn gets Nick outside the pocket to throw or run this weekend. I also think he will have to throw more for Auburn to win. Georgia is good up front, and they will challenge Auburn's tough offensive line. Look for the Dogs to score points, but they fade in the 4th.
In the end, it will come down to running the ball and stopping the run. Whomever does that the best, wins this game.
Leg Humpers 31
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
And then there were two.
Georgia Last week-Sleepwalked through the first half, but woke up in time to whip a bad APp State team 45-6. The final score might look impressive, but this is not your typical FCS "scare the pants off of a D1" team that we have come to expect out of the boys from Boone. Georgia is getting healthier, but I would say Gurley is only about 75-80%. Bennet is back but still banged up, and the rest of the UGA walking wounded are still questionable. All of that still doesn't change the fact that teams score lots of points on Georgia. They are better against the run than teams we have played recently, so we may have to throw the ball about 12 times to win. Threatdown Level...Stable and medium.
Bama Last week Poured in on in the end beating LSU 38-17. This game was tied in the 3rd quarter. Then LSU ran out of gas. ANd after having watched the Tigers several times this year, they just don't look well-conditioned to me. Auburn, Ole Miss, and Alabama all ran roughshod over them in the 4th quarter. But give the Tide credit, they are well conditioned, so I guess they do more than sign with agents in the weight room. Threatdown Level...Maxed Out.
Amen corner is upon us, and at the beginning of the season, if you told me I would be disappointed going 1-1 here, I would have had you committed. No doubt about it, the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare will be rockin' come Saturday afternoon. I can't wait to see it.