Sort of like last week.
— Waaaaaaaaar Eagle! Hey!
— Better have a big lead at the half, future Auburn opponents: 21-9 Tigers tonight after the break, 66-19 for the season.
–Heroes: Todd, for starters. 300 yards and 4 TDs–we haven’t seen those kinds of numbers since Good Brandon and Borges were terrorizing people in 2005. Tate, who rescued a moribund rushing game. Adams, who caught six balls and had half of them go for TDs. And the defense, collectively, who atoned for their first-quarter abomination by forcing six turnovers and allowing just 9 points the remainder of the entire game. Well done, gents.
— The fourth-quarter drive off the Auburn three didn’t result in points, but it was still the most important one of the night–it took the game from “Could still go either way” to “WVU better get it done on this drive” … and Brown and the ‘Eers couldn’t handle that kind of pressure.
— I said before the season that Auburn could expect to get a few breaks they didn’t get last year. The defense was terrific over thel ast three quarters, the offense did everything they had to do, but still, a 6-1 turnover margin … that’s at least in part what went around in 2008 coming around in 2009.
— Did I say WAR DAMN EAGLE?
— Part of me wants to say “How the hell are we even in this game?” and the other part answers “Gus Malzahn is a freaking genius, man.”
— That said, it’s Neiko Thorpe’s interception that was the play of the half, on either side. (This is the sort of expert analysis you can only get right here, by the way.)
— WRAP HIM UP WRAP UP TACKLE HIM AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
— More seriously, I’m torn, because obviously Devine and Brown are monsters and it’s not the easiest job to tackle those guys. On the other hand TACKLE HIM GET HIM FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING PRECIOUS AND DEAR TACKLE HIM
— We know that Auburn’s offense has to avoid forcing Todd and the receivers to make plays on their own, meaning that they have to get big yards on first down, right? After the opening Zachery reverse, Auburn’s next 10 first downs went for 3, -5 (pen), 0, 1, 3, 0, -6, 1, -5 (pen), 0. Stunning job, honestly, by Todd and Co. to keep the chains moving as often as they did.
— Holy crap, 10-0 in the second quarter. Unbelievable. By the by, Auburn has now scored in every quarter of the season thus far.
— Darvin Adams: The Man.
— Well, Auburn has been a second-half team so far this season. If they are again, they win the game.
— Georgia currently up 42-35 with 4 minutes left in the third, Auburn trailing 21-20 at halftime. ESS EEE SEE FOOTBALL, baby, where the defense is nonexistent and the offenses run wild! Just like in the olden days!
Holy crap, those of us who aren’t anywhere near the Plains have to be pretty much in unanimous shock, right? The rain is epic, verily monsoon-quality, and after a lightning strike the stadium’s been evacuated (or, an evacuation has been suggested, anyway. The students, to their credit, have gone nowhere. As, you know, you’ve all just seen on the same ESPN2 feed I just saw). It’s going to be a long while before we see any football.
As I said before, I think this plays more into Auburn’s hands than it does WVU’s, but still: Sigh. If Hank Jr. is out there anywhere asking, yes, I’m ready for some football.
Update: Per Bitter, kickoff set for 7:50 Auburn time. NOT SOON ENOUGH.
A few items of interest before kickoff tonight:
— The big one where this game is concerned: both Scooter Berry and Reed Williams should play tonight for the ‘Eers. Williams is apparently a full go while Berry’s slightly more doubtful. This is terrific news for WVU, since the pair are arguably the team’s best defensive players and Berry, in particular, didn’t seem likely to take the field as recently as last Tuesday. Auburn’s job is made a little bit tougher.
— So, yeah, the Billings thing. (A quick thanks to Jeremy for filling in on the news beat yesterday.) In the long-term, it’s both not as big a deal as it could be–with Adams and Zachery looking willing able thus far–but also not as small a deal as it could be, with Benton and Blake yet to earn the trust of the coaching staff. A third consistent receiver would have been a huge help, and now we have to cross Billings off of that list of candidates. It doesn’t hurt as much as I would have said it would hurt in the pre-season … but it hurts nonetheless.
In the immediate term, I’m not sure why Billings and/or Chizik felt the need to disclose this decision yesterday. We’re on the eve of a massive game for Auburn, the first real “Show me” match-up of the year, and now there’s just the tiniest bit of distraction out there. Probably not a big deal since Billings hasn’t been part of the gameday planning anyway, but a deal of any size like this would have been best avoided.
And lastly, personally, I can’t be too angry at Billings. I wish he’d come back. But he’s got his degree and it doesn’t seem like his future is in football. If he feels he’s got better things to do than try like mad to unseat Adams and Zachery–which he has no guarantee of doing–fine. He’s graduated, Auburn’s work is done, and if he feels his work is done, that’s his decision. Onwards and upwards.
— I remain deeply uneasy about how big a favorite Auburn seems to be over a team that’s won its last five against SEC competition–Kirk, Lee, and special guest Lance Armstrong all took Auburn this morning without a second thought–but at least the ‘Eers statistical dominance over East Carolina last week looks a little less impressive now that previously wheezy-looking North Carolina is administering the same kind of walloping.
No liveblogging today, but I’ll be back with more after the first set of games concludes.
Update: No question, WVU’s defensive shutdown against ECU last week now looks a bit more ordinary: North Carolina repeated the trick, holding the toothless Pirates to 247 total yards an 1.8 a carry on the ground. It’s not enough evidence to say that the ‘Eer defense won’t be good–the odds are that they are, in fact, good–but it is now enough to say they haven’t been even remotely tested the way Auburn will test them tonight.
Elsewhere, Greg McElroy continued to look nauseatingly good, Ball St. showed a pulse but still lost to Army on a leading contender for worst pick-six of the year, and Kentucky have Louisville’s special teams (which gave up a 100-yard kickoff return for TD and muffed a punt to set up UK’s winning score) for their victory.
Update: According to Andy Bitter, Mike Blanc and The Toro are both getting the start tonight. No surprise there, but the news that Tim Hawthorne is actually dressed is. I can’t imagine Hawthorne will play or contribute, but that’s very good news for his future return.
— Rain of some kind now seems likely. I think this is probably a good thing for Auburn–with WVU’s potentially shaky offensive line, I like Auburn’s chances to be able to run the ball against a rain-induced loaded box better than I do the ‘Eers’.
— Man, I know Tennessee’s got a terrific, well-coached defense, but Florida looks 2007-style Tebow-dependent, don’t they? I’d take the Tide over the Gators if they were playing tomorrow.
— This’ll be the last update before halftime. Enjoy the game, folks.