The end of the regular season is nigh, which means Auburn and Alabama fans are waiting with great anticipation for next weekend when the Iron Bowl renews itself for 77th time. Of course, both teams have a game to play this weekend, so we can’t quite get to the fun of making jokes about our rivals’ fans…at least not full time.
Alabama welcomes Western Carolina to Tuscaloosa Saturday and you have to feel for the Catamounts. Not only are they limping in to town riding a nine game losing streak, they also come to town the first week after Alabama lost to Johnny Football and his band of merry Aggies. Western Carolina’s main campus is located in Cullowhee, North Carolina; a town that isn’t considered a major town by Netflix, so we’re going to have to gauge fans’ moods based on data from one of the school’s branch campuses in Asheville.
At first glance it become obvious that Catamount fans have no delusions as to what it will take for their team to pull off the upset, magic. Fans have to be hoping that their team can conjure up some magic just as little Matilda did in order to help fight off the bullies that are bound to be pushing them around Saturday. If local favorites are any indication, Catamount fans understand that their team is really up against it this weekend, but it’s all about collecting the big payday, it’s Nothing Personal.
If the viewing habits of Tuscaloosans are to be believed, they’re pretty ticked about losing to Texas A&M. Straw Dogs’ inclusion as a local favorite indicates as much. To say that the Tide feels that their home was violated by intruders last week would be putting it mildly. Look for The Tide to take out their frustrations on Western Carolina, early and often. From what I understand the movie gets pretty dark and uncomfortable, I’m sure the Catamount fans who make the trip will feel the same, as will their players.
The good news for fans in Tuscaloosa is their team only dropped to #4 in the BCS rankings. The goal of repeating as BCS Champions is still in sight as long as they don’t slip up again. The Crimson Tide will be heading to Atlanta to face Georgia in a few weeks and you have to believe their playing a top 5 team (if both can manage these next few weeks without a loss) will help their case. Fans in Tuscaloosa are obviously upset, but they’re perfectly aware that losing last week didn’t spell their doom. Fans and players alike are Seeking Justice. They’re hoping to get back to the title game so they can defend their title. They’re out to prove (again) that losing a close game at home doesn’t mean you aren’t championship material, far from it.
While Alabama is facing what is more or less a tune-up game for the Iron Bowl, Auburn is in a different boat. The Tigers host a very confident and capable Alabama A&M team looking to ruin Senior Day on The Plains. Bulldogs fans are confident that their team can beat Auburn Saturday, evidenced by their selecting A Dog Year as the number two local favorite. Make no mistake, Alabama A&M isn’t coming to town for a fun afternoon in Auburn, they’re coming to kick some more dirt on the coffin of Auburn’s season.
While Western Carolina fans realized their team was headed to Tuscaloosa for what will more than likely be a big loss accompanied by a big paycheck, A&M fans are looking to pull off the ultimate heist. The Bulldog faithful are looking to take a few plays from Danny Ocean’s playbook; studying Ocean’s Twelve for tips on how to not only collect a big payday, but collect another win for their resume. Auburn needs to be careful this weekend. The Bulldogs will be no pushover and they’re coming prepared to do battle on foreign soil. Fans have been watching Predators for knowledge on how to hold your own on unfamiliar grounds. Weather the early storm and anything is possible.
This weekend will be the last time Auburn fans will see players such as Onterio McCalebb, Emory Blake and Darren Bates emerge from the tunnel and on to Pay Dye Field. I’m sure no one is more disappointed in how the season has turned out than all of the seniors who will be honored before Saturday’s game. While it’d be easy to dismiss the inclusion of Avatar as a local favorite in Auburn as fans trying to escape from the doldrums of a losing season, I see it as something else entirely. The movie shows that life carries on. What could look like the end, can be a new beginning. The film also shows what can happen when a group rallies together to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, not because it is easy or popular. The Auburn Family is watching Avatar because that’s what family does, it supports one another, regardless of how dire the circumstances may be.
Auburn’s bowl hopes went out the window a few weeks back, but the good news is The Auburn Family hasn’t gone anywhere. Although the season has been rough, the Auburn Family is still holding strong and supporting their team through these difficult times. What have fans been doing to keep morale high? Watching Eat Pray Love of course! Auburn has always been about more than a football team, the Auburn Creed says as much. Auburn Men and Women “believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid”. The practicing of clean sports only serves to further display and develop these characteristics, not define who we are. Can I get a “War Eagle”?
Stephen Savage, Auburn Man exiled to Baton Rouge, is currently working on his PhD in Political Science. In his free time he enjoys watching movies and writing about them on his blog, Movies N’ Munchies. For more evidence of how Netflix movie rentals reflect the psychology of local fan populations, click here.
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