I hate Alabama, of course. But it’s an organic hate, a natural hate, a hate that’s built layer-by-layer over the long years, a hate as solid and deep as the Earth itself in that diagram on your science teacher’s wall that shows you all the strata of hate down to the red-hot magma, which is where I keep my feelings for Nick Saban.
I also hate LSU. But that hate is different. It’s just pure, undiluted, nothing-underneath-it hate-for-hate’s-sake. It’s nice, because hate is fun (when it comes to college football), and dealing twice a year with the Alabama kind of hate that gets so heavy by gametime my eyes bleed would be too much. The LSU hate — I don’t want their world to come crumbling down like the Ottoman Empire, I don’t think they’re a blight on college football, I just want to beat their sorry asses — is just right.
But trust me: it’s hate. I really, really want to beat their sorry asses, and this year even more so than usual. I hate that Miles has been (this year’s Florida game expected, actually) riding his luck like some evil Wall Street day-trader and is reaping rewards he hasn’t earned. I hate that we haven’t beaten them in three years. I hate that they wheel their mascot out onto the field in a cage and provoke him for their own amusement. I hate that so many LSU fans are so gleefully belligerent towards our fans and the fans of the rest of the SEC; when I approached an LSU blog a couple seasons back about a Q-and-A, I was passed on to a second blogger with Blogger A advising the second to “be REALLY obnoxious.” I hate the endless whining out of Baton Rouge about the various perceived officiating slights in the series. I hate the color purple in football uniforms.
But most of all, I hate LSU for being the team that has most often stood between Auburn and an SEC West title. For most of the past decade, their Tigers and our Tigers both had the same goals and were each the other’s biggest obstacle towards meeting those goals. I learned to hate losing to LSU in a way I didn’t hate losing to any team on the schedule that wasn’t Alabama.
And here we are again: LSU undefeated and top-10, Auburn undefeated and top-10. Once again, the SEC West isn’t about to be decided between the two Saturday, but the loser’s going to have a hard, hard time going Atlanta. Once again, the thought of losing this game fills me with so much bile I can just about taste it.
So don’t lose it, Auburn. We’ve had to simply choke down that bile for far too long. This is that season. That season could handle a loss to some teams. For me, LSU isn’t one of them. C’mon, Auburn: crush them.
A few other thoughts:
— For God’s sake, Steven Clark, don’t you dare let Patrick Peterson touch any ball that isn’t coming down wet. LSU has to dominate special teams; they don’t have the offense to win any other way. (Even against our defense.) The easiest way for them to do that is with Peterson on the punt return. DON’T LET THEM, STEVEN CLARK.
— This being the week the Cam Newton Hype Express Train hit critical mass, he’s going to have to keep handing off when his read calls him to hand off. LSU is too good a defense and is going to be too occupied with stopping him for him to do to the Wrong Tigers what he did to Arkansas, Carolina, etc. Dyer, McCalebb, Fannin, Blake on the swing: this is your week.
— I am so glad this game is at home. I agree that, roughly speaking, the talent levels are about even. But the same was true of Carolina, the same was true of Arkansas, and Auburn was the better team in both of those games. I suspect that at Jordan-Hare, the same will be true on Saturday … at least, outside of the realm of special teams.
— I’m not even going to pretend I’m not thrilled Miles is so committed to playing Jordan Jefferson.
— Another win means another step closer to the Iron Bowl to End All Iron Bowls, to the top of the BCS standings, to a Heisman Trophy, to everything we’ve dreamed of for this team. You’ve come so far, Auburn; this game is too winnable to let go of those things now.
So win. Make it happen. War Damn Eagle.