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The Gameday post, Clemson

FULLTIMEWOOOOOOOO

— What can you say? Our kicker has better nerves. That’s about the extent of it. We all take Wes Byrum for granted, I think. We should not.

— Remarkable fightback. Remarkable. And full credit to the defense: 7 points allowed to a team with a line, backs, and QB like that over the course of the entire second half and overtime … I mean, at this point, the defense is the better side of the ball for Auburn, right? Right? Certainly the more consistent of the two.

— Brutal game. Just brutal. Brutal from an emotional standpoint, brutal hits on the field, brutal ending if you’re a Clemson fan. I thought that pass from Parker had won the game.

— Malzahn still has no real confidence in Newton. Two timeouts, 90 seconds, only 55 yards or so to go to at least give Byrum a shot, and we play for overtime. Even with our defense clearly sucking wind. That’s not the decision of a staff with confidence in its quarterback. (Then again, why should they have confidence in Newton when it comes to reading defenses downfield?)

— There are problems, obviously. Third-and-short is still a gigantic bugaboo. If Clemson had run one more screen pass, they’d have probably won and I’d have probably destroyed my television, my one possession I treasure above all others. Newton, as I mentioned.

But tonight, screw it. Auburn won. They won a game that was as hard-fought and hard-earned as any they’ll play this year. Tonight, that’s all that matters. We’ll worry about the other stuff in the morning.

WAR EAGLE!

THIRD QUARTER

— Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. The West Virginia game all over again. Give Chizik this: his guys don’t quit.

— Auburn dominated that quarter as badly as Clemson dominated the first half. Even moreso, actually. 150 yard margin for Clemson at the half is now a 60 yard deficit. A 210-yard swing in the space of a quarter.

— Not over yet, not by a long, long, long shot. But that 15 minutes made a lot of the things I wrote below look pretty dumb, huh?

HALFTIME: HEY THAT WAS FUN

— Look, if you can’t convert 3rd-and-short, you’re not going to sustain anything. Three third-and-shorts this half (before the last desperate drive, when Clemson was in prevent) resulted in 1. a run to nowhere 2. a pass that had no hope of completion 3. a useless, stupid hold. Fatal.

— We’ve said all offseason: Newton’s gotta be able to throw the ball. Newton’s gotta be able to throw the ball.

He can’t throw the ball. At least not on the basis on this half. 1-of-6 for 23 yards and 3.8 an attempt … that’s just not competent at this level. The throw a mile over Smith’s head was sadly exemplary of the half he just played. One completion in a half! I’m going to print out that preseason post I did where I said he’d be awesome and, I don’t know, shred it in the garbage disposal.

— The defense wasn’t much good, but they weren’t terrible. So much time-of-possession for Clemson, so many three-and-outs. One of the two TDs set up by an interception. I’m not angry at those guys. Not a whole lot, anyway.

— Hey, that’s our super-experienced world-beating offensive line getting completely owned by a team North Texas moved the ball on with impunity.

— The field goal was nice. But I’m not going to harbor any hope of somehow winning this game. For the second half, I just want to see some execution on offense, a little bit of a hole for our running backs, some sort of indication we understand how to defend a screen pass. They’re the better team. Auburn, just play like you aren’t drunk, please. That’s all I’m asking at this stage.

— COME TO AUBURN, RECRUITS! ACCEPT CHALLENGES LIKE 14-POINT HALFTIME DEFICITS AGAINST ACC TEAMS IN FRONT OF SOLD-OUT CROWDS ON ESPN!

— Back at the end of the game.

PREGAME, 5:45: Still no word on any uniform alterations, though we have reports that Nova is a late scratch and she’ll be replaced by Spirit. And just to verify anything that might need verification per Kenny Smith, Ziemba is starting, Dyer has been announced as the starting tailback, and Stevens is starting at linebacker.

Unless something major–i.e. the uniform thing happens–I’ll be back at halftime. War Eagle.

PREGAME, 5:15: Well lookie here:

Auburn and Clemson announced they will play on the opening weekend of the 2012 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome …

Tickets will be distributed evenly between the teams, with each getting approximately 31,500. The projected per team payout is $2.1 million, which is higher than 22 bowl games last year.

This is in addition to the 2011 meeting between these schools in Clemson. I hope you like running into these guys, folks, since we’re going to be seeing a lot of them.

But aside from that, I’m delighted to have Auburn in that spotlight, and I’m assuming for the “more home games” crowd (who I totally sympathize with), we’ll pair this game with three cuppitycakes. Also, 2.2 million smackeroos. Michael Scott refers to this as a “win-win-win.”

PREGAME, 4:20: And just as I post that, we get word that Craig Stevens appears to be back with the team, as expected. Will be interesting to see exactly how the linebacking rotation plays out; The Toro played too well last week to just consign him to the bench again.

PREGAME, 4:15: Andy Bitter and the soon-to-be-departed Andrew Gribble have their pregame posts up, and the big scoop: it’s freaking hot. As with the heat in Starkville a week ago, no idea who that might help.

Post-Gameday, a few people on Twitter noticed for the first time that Auburn has a policy of not letting Corso put on the Aubie head. The consensus was that this was “dumb.” The thought here is: up yours, ESPN. Some things are bigger than you are, and Aubie is one of them. (It’s his head, man.) Just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge doesn’t mean we have to. So there.

Apropos of nothing at all, Ohio St. may have won the game. But I think the Ohio fans win at life. (Via, HT to JCB.)

PREGAME, 1:35: Oh man, that’s quite the gut-punch for Georgia–particularly since with Blair Walsh on the sidelines, they only needed to get to Arkansas’s 40 or so on their final (non-Hail Mary) possession to have a great shot at a game-winning field goal. For once Spielman and Griese were right–going for a deep completion instead of a first down on that 3rd-and-5, particularly with a weapon like Walsh around, was idiotic.

As for the Hogs, well, that’s the best Mallett has played on the road by a mile, and that defense has a pulse now. Damn.

As for Ole Miss: LOLZ. Some credit to Vandy, though–that defense looks like it’s back to the usual ‘Dores “we’re going to make things tough on you no matter how horrific our offense might be” standards.

How ’bout another Gameday shot? Especially one of Alice Fraasa? Especially one featuring only the best in today’s t-shirt wear?

If you’d rather have some pregame reading material, I’ll re-recommend this Shakin’ the Southland preview, or you can look over Auburn’s just released men’s hoops schedule. Usually, I’d be appalled at the lack of challenges on the nonconference slate. This year? After the injuries and academic washouts? I think it’s kind of perfect, honestly.

PREGAME, 9:30: Watchin’ Gameday, for the first time this season. Crowd seems lively, and of course seeing Jordan-Hare’s magnificence–and Aubie rising up into the background of half-a-dozen shots–has been fun. I told ACC Rivals that Newton had, indeed, already become the biggest star on the team; if you needed proof, I think the full 60-70 percent of Auburn signs that reference him qualifies.

Speaking of signs, there’s some clever ones. But “Welcome Back Shon” is my favorite.

OK, we’ve got a little bit of time to kill, so here’s some my picks for the SEC this week against the spread. I’m against pick columns on general principle (since you can find them 8 gazillion places, and it’s not like mine have any intrinsic value), but what the hell, as long as it’s just part of a larger post:

Georgia (-1.5) over Arkansas: Preseason, I said the Dawgs could challenge Florida and that the Hogs were overrated. Still too soon to back away from that, especially with the Dawgs wounded and at home.

Vanderbilt (+11.5) over Ole Miss: Rebels haven’t put away either of two much weaker teams by this kind of margin. Vandy’s also due for a squeaker loss after getting blown out a week ago, even on the road.

Alabama (-24) over Duke: 54 points given up to Wake is going to equal at least 40 given up to the Tide, and I don’t see the Devils clearing more than 14.

Florida (-13.5) over Tennessee: The 48 points given up obscured the fact that the Vols managed all of 13 points against a wobbly Oregon D at home. Don’t see them scoring more than that against the Gators, who don’t seem to be missing Charlie Strong just yet.

Akron (+25) over Kentucky: After getting embarrassed against Gardner-Webb last week, the Zips should put up a greater effort.

Mississippi State (+7.5) over LSU: Mullen will have his guys ready after last week’s disappointment, and I’m not confident about Jefferson or Lee standing up to Diaz’s pressure.

Auburn’s -6 over Clemson; I’m staying away from that.

Lastly, before we sign off for a while, you need to see this:

Oh, and listen to the clip at that link, too. War Eagle! Back with another update, oh, whenever I feel like it. Maybe halftime of the first round of games.

Newton gif courtesy our new best friend, Patrickthetiger.

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