By J. Henderson
The morning game jinx passed away yesterday, by a lethal injection of stifling defense and precision play-calling. 82,656 joined me in witnessing the execution. We spit on its grave and digested our peanuts with ease.
T’was a welcome reward for last week’s strapping victory in the Swamp to again, and for the first time this year, enjoy a Lazy-Boy game in Jordan-Hare, as I knew it would be. 20 points, at least, said I. The Tigers hung 35 on them, 28 in the first half. (Auburn is now 42-0 under Tuberville when scoring at least 30 points in a game — that’s amazing). I took those points and kicked back in borrowed seats in Sec. 13. It was great. That is the sort of game I most enjoy, the games after which you walk home depressed for losing the shut-out, even with third stringers.
Of course a shut-out would have been a more fitting tribute to the 1957 Auburn Tigers than even the throwback helmets (which I kinda dug) and the white jerseys (in which we always seem to bring it); that defensively dominating squad of national champions, who themselves delivered 6 shut-outs (out of 10 games), was honored at half-time (kids and grandkids stood in for deceased members – I nearly teared up when his Dad’s name was announced and Ralph Jordan, Jr. went all black-power at all the extra applause). Still, I am not complaining.
[I love this man - congratulations on 100 wins, Coach!]
However, at the end of yet another revolutionary Saturday in the realm of college football, there are pangs of regret in the Auburn spine, for consider what might have been had the powerful, multi-dimensional Auburn team we expected in August not been so tardy in arriving — had we not played hot potato with the football for three games, had our kick coverage held just a few yards tougher…
The new polls were just released and Auburn is rightfully back in the Top-25 at #22. But does anyone doubt that with the team of the last two weeks we could easily handle Hawaii (has Hawaii ever been ranked ahead of us?), Kentucky (!), Illinois, Kansas, Florida State, Cincinnati, California, Boston College, and almost every other team ranked ahead of us?
In the darkest patch of the deepest valley in which we squinted heavenward after the Mississippi State debacle, I looked forward to an Autumn of gut-wrenching, esophageal cancer, of bleeding my fan-soul for the 4th down conversion that would secure us a victory over Tennessee Tech if it came to it. Though I then knew we would beat Florida, I quote myself when I say that, at 3pm on September 15th, the future of this season manifest as a “grand canyon of sheer terror.”
Within minutes of Auburn stepping onto the field yesterday- that is, within mere seconds of assurance that last week was not a fluke, that despite recent history of morning sickness, teams who have lost to Mississippi State have already had their let-down game – the memory of that vision all but disappeared. In it’s stead was a groping, analytical lust for a two-game do-over and a quickly spreading 2008-hungry smile on my face. Where would we be at this point in the season of the bizarre had we simply played to our potential? Somewhere around #2, I’d say.
Watch us win out and land there anyway.