Nine and one. Ranked seventh in the BCS. Auburn Tigers.
We all know the story by heart at this point. Our Tigers returned to the field after a disastrous 2012 campaign. We saw the dismissal of one coaching regime and the ushering in of a new one. An offseason filled with off-the-field distractions of yesteryear riddled with gross incompetence from both administrators and staff that laid the groundwork for doubt and mediocrity for years to come. We, the fans, shored up the ramparts, set our teeth and stared into the long, dark, night as we waited for the dawn. There, in the distance, a lone rider broke the bleak horizon and promised us that a new day was approaching.
OK, wow, the hyperbole got out of control real quick, didn't it? Hello, Tiger fans. Oscar Whiskey here, and Auburn is standing on the edge of one of the greatest seasons for this team in the new century. Better than 2004? Better than 2010? Our 2004 Tigers, while a blast and amazing too watch, showed up a year too late and are now only brought up in conversations that start with "What if...?" The 2010 Tigers team may have brought Auburn its first national title in half a century and featured probably some of the best athletes to don on orange and blue, but it was still mired in controversy.
The 2013 team features no such notions and no such controversy. The 2013 squad is comprised mostly of the same Tigers who took the field a year ago with few, new additions. The 2013 Auburn Tigers stood on the outside looking in when the season began but now, they stand that much closer to what every team dreams of and what so few actually accomplish.
Winter may be around the corner but the sun is shining bright on the Plains.
Made Glorious Summer
A lot has taken place this year to set up Auburn for its final contests. Big games were won and lost. On some teams, key players were injured, leaving them short-handed, while other athletes have simply not panned out. Of course, there's always the issue of some teams receiving a good bit of credit before the season begins and are now nowhere to be found.
But that's college football, and there's really nothing to say other than that.
However, a lot has taken place at Auburn and done by our Tigers for them to be where they are now. The most obvious being that last year is long past them, along with whatever potential discontent that could have stemmed from it or hampered their progress. Unlike us fans, the best athletes never seem to care much about yesterday, only tomorrow.
Week to week, game to game, a different team takes the field. Sure, they're the same players wearing the same uniforms and equipment, but that's not the same team. No, this one steps on that field with a new plan, a new focus and a new determination. Sure, they're trying to reach the same objective as last week, a win, but how they'll obtain that goal won't be upon the path walked previously. The intensity and passion utilized last week has been remolded, repaired and refueled and idle patiently for Saturday.
And there is the biggest difference with this Auburn Tigers' football team.
This team isn't sitting around, just waiting for the season to be over and to move on so it can trudge its way through winter. No, this Auburn team, these Tigers, sees only the bright, summer days ahead.
I know that last week I felt rather blasé about heading into the game against Tennessee. Deep down, I knew the outcome ahead of time, and while it didn't unfurl the way I was expecting, I knew that Auburn wasn't walking out of Neyland Stadium without a win. This week, however, that "meh" feeling is not there. This week, the nerves are spooling up and are ready to leave me restless. The orange and blue butterflies have returned from their long, migration and are nestling again in my stomach. My palms are still dry but my other hand-related tweaks and twitches (fist clinching, knuckle popping, etc.) are in full effect.
I don't need to remind myself that I'm ready, because I am ready.
I see you, Aaron Murray, and your 63.3 percent completion rating, your 275 yards a game and your 20 touchdowns. But, I also see your seven interceptions and your offense allowing you to be sacked 11 times.
I see that you're back, Todd Gurley, and I know you must be ready to go. I'm sure you're feeling like you've got a lot to make up with all the time you've missed, and what better way to do so than against this Auburn defense? But, I also noticed how you haven't finished any of the games since you've been back.
I see you, Georgia defense. I know you're going to try and make Auburn beat you with the pass instead of the run. Sure, I bet you think Nick Marshall, a former teammate of yours, is rusty, as he hasn't thrown the ball more than 15 times over the past two weeks. He might be, but I also noticed you haven't done much in the way of making teams not wanting to throw against you.
I see you, Bulldog fans of every size and shape. I know you can see me as well. How? Because Auburn, it's standing in that limelight that you thought was yours for the taking. This was supposed to be your year, as was the year before that and the year before that and the year before that and the year before that and so on. It's easy to be seen when you're standing in the sun. It feels good, Georgia, and I'm sure one day you'll get to enjoy it as well.
More from College and Magnolia:
- College football viewing guide: Week 12
- Auburn Basketball: November thoughts
- Auburn vs. Georgia: TV schedule, key players and more
- Auburn in the NFL: Week 10
- Undercover Barner: Georgia on my mind