Friday, December 6, 2013

SEC Championship Preview-Stranger Danger

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

Bama Review: Legend

Pure Magic.

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.