One of the points I forgot to make in my Newton post on Friday was that as aggravating (and, still, potentially devastating) as the allegations against Cam are — well, the kinda-sorta-allegations-that-might-have-something-to-with-him against Cam — at least they surfaced in the best of all possible weeks for the to surface. We didn’t know whether they would result in Auburn playing with an angry, focused edge or with a distracted and detached air this week … but of course, against Chattanooga, it was never going to matter.
As it turned out, it probably didn’t make any difference what week they came to the surface. Auburn played neither angry nor distracted; they just played like Auburn. And against the poor, utterly overmatched Mocs, that meant the most perfunctory avalanche of Tiger touchdowns I can remember ever watching. The defining sequence of the game was Darvin Adams bizarrely dropping a certain touchdown bomb that hit him in the hands (glad that‘s out of the system), then waiting a few plays, and catching a long touchdown bomb anyway. Some things are inevitable. More than anything, I was just glad Cam got to pad his touchdown stats.
Which is why the biggest game of the day for Auburn wasn’t even the game Auburn was playing. It was the game in Baton Rouge, where LSU was playing the only team in Auburn’s division that can still hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Auburn that might keep them from Atlanta. An LSU win would mean even that tiebreaker would be useless in the event of an Auburn win against Georgia, that all Auburn would have to do to earn their fourth trip to Atlanta would be to beat the Dawgs at home.
They did it. LSU won.
So now the only team standing between Auburn and the SEC Championship game is a Georgia team that has yet to beat a team with a winning record this season (their three SEC victims to date have combined for two SEC wins), that has lost to a Colorado team that sits at 0-5 in the Big 12, that has yet to win a game away from Athens over anyone other than Kentucky. And that team must come to Jordan-Hare, where a pair of teams that have already defeated the Dawgs (Arkansas and Carolina, the former in Athens) have already lost.
I admit it: this opportunity is more than I dreamed of when this season started. I believed Auburn could go to Tuscaloosa at 10-1 or maybe, if everything broke perfectly, 11-0. (I’ll also admit I did not expect that.) I believed the offense could do almost as many things as it’s proven capable of doing. I believed, with all my heart, that an Auburn win over Alabama would send us to Atlanta and that Auburn could win a championship there.
But to have the division clinched and the title in hand before Auburn goes to Alabama? To have the game that could send us to Atlanta not be in the most hostile environment imaginable against the most purely talented team on Auburn’s schedule, but in Jordan-Hare against the team described above? The phrase that comes to mind is: not in a million years.
This is not to say I believe the division to be won already. Against Auburn’s secondary, A.J. Green–the best receiver in college football, for my money–could win this game all by his lonesome. Their offensive line has finally started to come together. Their defense is no longer coached by Willie Martinez. And on the intangibles side, anyone who dismisses either Georgia’s track record in J-Hare or the fact that they’ve won four straight in this series should, well, be a hell of a lot less dismissive.
But Auburn is the better team. And if they play like it, they will have the opportunity to play for an SEC championship, and they will remain one of four or five teams with a realistic chance of playing for a national championship. They could not possibly ask for more. They could not possibly ask for a better opportunity.
So they’d best not blow it. But at this point of the season, I’ve reached the point where I can’t believe they will.
Other assorted observations
— It took a little while, much longer than I anticipated before the season started, but we’ve reached the point where Auburn’s not missing Ben Tate. Between 1. Dyer getting healthy and running with the burst, vision, and aggressiveness we knew he had and 2. McCalebb comfortable on his feet again and doing the McCalebb thing he did to start 2009, the tailback position is in as good hands as it was last year. (Well, assuming Dyer stops doing somersaults and fumbling. But Tate wasn’t averse to putting the ball on the ground from time-to-time either.)
— Um … am I the only person who was sort of encouraged by the first-string defense’s performance? I know, I know, it was just UTC, but their passing game in particular isn’t a total waste, and is the kind of passing game that’s given Auburn fits this year. I was expecting points of some kind before the first quarter was out and maybe even a game that was still within reach at the half. Instead their first five drives (the kickoff return not included) failed to get any closer than the Auburn 47. Things could have been worse, you know. They were against Furman last year, if you’ll recall … much worse.
— I just had to go and say nice things about Jay Boulware, didn’t I? And there goes a kickoff return TD against an FCS squad. Sigh. As with the Adams drop: I just hope that was their one breakdown for November. (That Chizik is so unhappy, and not without reason, with the punters is another issue.)
— I’ll have more on the BCS and Auburn’s schedule later, but for now, that Auburn has not only defeated but defeated with a certain level of comfort* three teams (Arkansas, LSU, and Carolina) that have given ‘Bama fits is encouraging where the Iron Bowl is concerned. Not to mention that if the ‘Cocks and especially the Bayou Bengals can make that much hay on the ground against the Tide defense, I feel fairly confident that Auburn will be able to make a certain amount of hay as well. I’m not buying this “Auburn by 20 points” nonsense for a second, but I do think it looks more and more likely the game will be played in the upper-20s-low-30s pace/style our team prefers over the upper-teens/lower-20s theirs does.
*Yeah, yeah, 15 points of difference combined in the LSU/Carolina games and a substantial yardage deficit against the Hogs. But the yardage totals swung heavily in favor of Auburn in the former two games and the latter was won by 21 points in the end. Auburn was clearly the better team in all three, is the point.
— I thought about making this its own post, but while I’m here: Gus Malzahn isn’t going to Colorado. For the record.
Photo by Van Emst.
I seriously cannot begin to explain the joy I feel when I read the comments on the bama site link. My, how the…..err….times have changed lol.
To your asterisk comment: I get frustrated when people talk about the yardage deficit against the Hogs… it’s as if no one noticed that our average starting field position was [around?] the 43, and theirs was [around?] the 23ish. When you factor that out to a 60 minute game that included 11 Auburn scoring drives. If each of those drives were touchdowns (I know a couple were field goals), then that would be a difference of around 220 yards.
I’m not mathematician, but you get the idea. The yardage differential was misleading and irrelevant. We moved the ball as much, if not more, than they did. War eagle!
If you look at that Darvin dropped ball, it actually hit him in his face…he never even got his hands on it that I could tell. He said in an interview that he lost it in the sun. I’m not sure if that is better or worse than just dropping it…
What matters is average, not an isolated game. Tops in the SEC and what, #6 in NCAA? Don’t tell me Arky (or anyone else in the SEC) is better.
it is weird how similar our season this year is to bama’s season last year. For a state whos professional sports teams are their two major college football teams, it is a really cool situation.
It is GREAT to be an Auburn Tiger.
Hooo BOY! Am I glad to hear someone else agree with me, albeit not exactly. But I am CONVINCED that this defense is much better than people perceive it to be and it will surprise some people yet this season. My claim originally was that it was going to surprise Bama, but after Saturday, their offense isn’t perceived as what it was earlier in the season. But if nothing else, this defense is going to show some power in our BCS bowl game, whichever one we end up in.
And it seems that they were experimenting a bit with some new stuff defensively this past saturday. I think EVERYONE is going to be quite surprised with what Ted Roof has in store for us in the next year or two.
Alex P in Smyrna G says
Bammer fans want to bench McCelroy! I guess two losses in a career are two too many.
The dilusions of their own greatness and “birth right” still amaze me.
Don’t read too much into the fact that bama lost to two of those three and barely won the other. They were all road games and we beat those teams at home…not by much save arky. Where they lost two close road games we won two of our by only 3 points. Not defending bama, just saying that homefield means ALOT and we are playing at their place. I’m having bad dreams about julio and trent on screen after screen all game long. But the thought of our O rolling up 400 demoralizing rush yards makes me wake up with a smile! Gotta handle bidness with the dawgs first though. Secondary will have their hands full, so it comes down to you Mr. Fairley. Your mission should you choose to accept it will be terrorizing Aaron Murray ALL DAY! Remember we haven’t beaten UGA in 4 years. Attached is a video of the kind of results I’m expecting from you and your teammates the next few weeks.
TT, I don’t think anyone will argue that beating ‘Bama won’t be the hardest thing Auburn has done all season. Just saying that before, it was easy to see their D standing up to our offense and their offense going nuts on our D. Now, we may still see the second half of that equation, but I’m not sure about the first part. If LSU can pus hthem around like that, in Baton Rouge or not, I think Auburn can manage something similar up there.
Hunter-Gather, you sir are a scholar. Perhaps not a mathematician, but you sure know how to count those numbers. Dubya Dee Eee.
Bad news: Atlanta paper headline (from Fox Sports) is that the reason Cam left U of Fl was that he was about to be kicked out of school for multiple cheating incidences the most eggregious being turning in someone elses work with his name on it. Uhoh.
I enjoyed the “honk if you’ve sacked Brodie” video. I’ve watched a few Bama games and it seems to me that Mcelroy is the most “sackable” qb in the SEC.
I would argue that LSU so much didn’t force their way into that 75 yard TD bomb and the 2 easy FGs (14 points total) buy just pushing our defense slowly down the field. We got beat, but it wasn’t lie boys against men out there.
The bomb came at bad execution (which is honestly more cause for concern than just getting physically beat) and the two turnovers really did us in.
The O-line can’t seem to read late shifting on the road very well (something they picked up well with Davis and Johnson last year).
They still finished with 225 yards rushing, TD, nearly all of that in the second half. LSU got started w/ big plays, yes, but they finished the job with a couple of sustained marches. Very little pressure on Jefferson and Lee, too. And Nevis on defense …
Sorry, I have to stick by my portrayal up there.
If you were to take the song “Bodies hit the floor” and the highlight reel of Auburn this year with monster sacks, Cam, the running backs it would be a you tube mega hit. I just don’t have the technology. All we do is win has all last year stuff.