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Netflix Iron Bowl: Trends in Auburn and Tuscaloosa Movie Rentals, Week 5

Check out Week 1 here, Week 2 here, Week 3 here, Week 4 here.

Is it still a good movie in its own right or does it just look good because of what came before it (read: Clemson loss)?

We’re over a month into the college football season and so far things have more or less played out as expected. Auburn’s young team has shown flashes of potential, but has displayed obvious growing pains in trying to replace a lot of senior leadership (and three key juniors: Adams, Fairley and Newton) from last year’s team. Across the state, Alabama has looked to be every bit the national title contender they were predicted to be, adding a woodshed beating of Arkansas to their resume last weekend. October promises to either  help us see the cream rise to the top or stick us with an ugly emulsion where there’s no clear separation between teams. A month into the season it seems that movie viewing habits might actually give more insight into a fan base’s psyche than first imagined.

How is the Auburn Family feeling after a month of football? If the Netflix Local Favorites in Auburn, Alabama tell us anything, it’s that the Auburn Family is still that—a family. Because the No. 1 local favorite is Madea’s Big Happy Family. The No. 2 local favorite, Star Wars: Episode III, makes you wonder if fans are searching for the feeling they felt Saturday night after a lackluster win against Florida Atlantic. Sure the movie is the best of the new Star Wars Trilogy, but what does that really mean? Is it still a good movie in its own right or does it just look good because of what came before it (read: Clemson loss)?

The No. 3 local favorite, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, shows that although Auburn fans are still proud of their team, they’re realistic about their situation. Auburn faces down it’s own basilisk in the form of its October schedule. The brutal stretch begins today against South Carolina in Columbia. The following weeks see Auburn visiting Arkansas, hosting Florida and visiting LSU in Death Valley. Auburn fans have to be watching Mr. Potter for tips on how to survive the horrors of a basilisk. If all goes well, we could be talking about a resurgent defending national champion who looks like a phoenix rising from the ashes of what many outside Auburn have written off as a lost season.

In Tuscaloosa, Crimson Tiders are preparing for yet another huge matchup as their team will be visiting the Florida Gators Saturday night in The Swamp. To prepare for the trip fans in Tuscaloosa have been watching the Pixar flick Up. For those who haven’t seen it, Up follows an elderly gentlemen on a journey to move his home to a distant place in order to keep a promise he made to his wife. There can be no doubt that the Tuscaloosans hope their team can make the journey to Gainesville, beat the Gators at home and return to Tuscaloosa one step closer to fulfilling the promise of returning the BCS title to T-Town.

The number 12 local favorite for Tuscaloosa, You Again, shows the city’s disdain for the Florida Gators. You Again follows the story of a young woman who finds out that one of her tormentors from high school is going to marry her brother. As many in Tuscaloosa remember, the Florida Gators and Tim Tebow beat the Tide in the SEC Championship game a few years ago, ruining the Tide’s perfect season and catapulting the Gators into the BCS Championship Game which they won. There is truly no love lost between the University of Alabama and Florida, which should make Saturday night’s matchup a fun one to watch.

What They’re Watching:

There are two huge games this weekend outside of the aforementioned SEC matchups: Nebraska visits Wisconsin and Virginia Tech plays host to Clemson. It’s been a month since we started our journey exploring the links between college football and fans’ viewing habits, so I’ve decided to mix things up this week and take a look at what the opponents of the Tigers and Tide are watching.

First up, let’s look at what the Gamecocks are watching up in Columbia in preparation for Auburn’s visit. The No. 1 movie in Columbia is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The choice of this Frank Capra classic is significant because it’s more or less a classic fish out of water story. After dwelling in the SEC’s cellar for years Coach Steve Spurrier has shaped South Carolina into a legitimate contender for the SEC title. I feel that fans in Columbia are drawn to the story of Mr. Smith because he was also suddenly thrust into a new environment—politically corrupt Washington D.C.)—and had to work to adapt. Beating Auburn and avenging last year’s losses to the Tigers will go a long way in proving that they have finally crossed the threshold and become one of the SEC’s elite.

USC’s desire to prove they’re a force to be reckoned with in the SEC is further reflected by the No. 11 local favorite for Columbia, Revenge of the Bridesmaids. Over the past few years the phrase, “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride” has perfectly applied to the Gamecocks football team. Every time they’d defeat a top-tier team, they’d follow it up by losing to a team they should have beaten. Every time they would finally gain national respect in the polls they’d go and blow it all with an inexplicable loss. Their Netflix viewing habits show that fans in Columbia are finally ready to walk down the aisle and claim a SEC Championship.

In Gainesville it seems fans are gearing up for the first major victory of the Will Muschamp Era by watching Napoleon Dynamite. Looking for a story about a lovable underdog? Look no further than Napoleon Dynamite. Mr. Dynamite doesn’t have the moves like Jagger, but he’s true to himself and in the end gets the girl (Note: he does have these moves). The theme of a rag tag bunch of protagonists overcoming obstacles seems to be a common theme as Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring joins Napoleon Dynamite as a Gainesville Local Favorite. Fans have to hope their team can work together to defeat the forces of the dark wizard Saban* as he leads his crimson minions into The Swamp, just as Aragorn and the fellowship worked to defeat the dark lord Sauron.

All kidding aside, Gator fans seem to know what’s at stake Saturday. The title of the No. 7 local favorite, Sleepers, says so. As of now, the Gators are a sleeper team in the SEC East, with South Carolina being the apparent top dog in the division. Win Saturday and that can all change. The Gator Nation appears ready for Saturday’s showdown, but color me a bit disappointed, especially considering the the “What’s a Padawan?” press conference, that they didn’t get pumped for Saturday with one of the classic master (Nick Saban) versus apprentice (Will “Boom” Muschamp) movies, Star Wars!

Until next week!

* Nick Saban is arguably a defensive mastermind and wizard. I have no evidence he dabbles in the dark arts. So basically he’s a football wizard, not “wizard” wizard*

Stephen Savage writes at “Movies ‘n Munchiesand is considered by his mother to be the best blogger on all things movie and food related. Holding two degrees from Auburn University, Stephen is proud to call himself an Auburn Man. He currently spends his time working on his blog. He is available for freelance work and retirement parties.  Follow his blog on Twitter @moviesnmunchies.

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* Fans equate Iron Bowl losses with the end of the world—now confirmed by science!
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* Bama pays professional boxers to beat Auburn for the first time

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