Auburn has a chance at history
By Lou Vickery
Several years ago, while speaking at a banquet in Mobile, Coach Nick Saban had this to say: (I’ll paraphrase) “I want us to win 11 regular season games every fall. I want Auburn to win 11 games. I just don’t want them to win that 12th one.” Saban went on to say, “Having highly successful football programs at both schools is good for state as a whole.”
Witness the aura that already surrounds this year’s Iron Bowl game and it becomes easy to understand the significance of Saban’s statement. Eyes of the whole country will be on our state when Alabama visits Auburn for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
The “Miracle at Jordan-Hare” has set the table for a holiday feast. The great pass play against Georgia has given the Tigers 10 wins. If Auburn is to win that 11th game, they must find a way to defeat the undefeated Tide steamroller.
Auburn is a two-touchdown underdog at home. On paper there is no way this Auburn team should be able to compete with Alabama. Alabama has more talent, more depth and more to lose.
More to lose? Auburn has surpassed the wildest expectations of even the most ardent Tigers fan. Alabama is still three games away from realizing the epitome of their expectations: winning another national championship. Therein lies one of the reasons I believe this Auburn team has a chance to win the Iron Bowl.
If the Tigers come in loose and not uptight and the Crimson Tide are just the opposite, Alabama could lay the ball on the ground a few times. The bottom line is that Auburn must win the turnover battle to even stay close.
Gary Danielson, the CBS analyst, who will be on the TV broadcast Saturday, said on Paul Finebaum’s show that “Auburn runs the ball better than any team in the country.” That’s high praise, from a tough analyst. If the Tigers can run the ball and control the clock, they have a chance. For sure they have to connect on some passes, but Auburn has to run the ball often — and efficiently — to win.
The last point I want to make that may give the Tigers a chance to win is the “mystic factor.” There is something about this Auburn Tiger team where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This team should not be 10-1, but they are. They are, because a great coaching staff got them to believe and they grew from there. Auburn is simply better than they should be.
All year the ball has bounced the Tigers way in situations where they needed a lucky bounce. Obviously, none greater that the “Miracle at Jordan-Hare” pass play against Georgia. Auburn may need another “miracle” to beat an Alabama team that is not only superbly coached, but one that appears unbeatable. Add in a loud and boisterous crowd to the “mystic factor” and Auburn has a winning combination in my estimation.
Saturday about six o’clock we will know the answer. I think Auburn and its fan base will be celebrating one of the greatest victories in school history. At least they will make SEC history if they win, going from last place in the West Division to first place in a year. But if Auburn fails to win, I will be right there in my easy chair pulling for Alabama in the SEC championship game.
Lou Vickery is an author and host of “Lou in the Morning” on 105.9 FM. You can email him at email@example.com.
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