Undercover Barner: The best and worst of times

One number 5 was robbed of his chance to win the game so another number 5 had to make it right. - Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

This week's Undercover Barner allows a Georgia fan to write some stuff, so that's a pretty big step toward maturity.

There isn’t a whole lot I can add to the discussion about The Miracle at Jordan-Hare, the Immaculate Deflection, the Inaccurate Reception that Chris, Blake, and countless others haven’t already said — what it meant to the fan base, the team, the season.

Screen_shot_2013-11-18_at_11
This was all I had after I was finally able to process what happened on the field.

Through a series of unfortunate events, I wasn’t able to watch Saturday’s game at Jordan-Hare. I didn’t get to witness Auburn’s first half dominance or its fourth quarter collapse. I didn’t see Jake Holland* stop Aaron Murray** short of the goal line, only to have a blown call rob him of his moment in the sun. I didn’t get to see a Nick Marshall, a kid with Georgia literally tattooed on his arm, bank a desperation half-court shot off a couple of DBs and into Ricardo Louis’ perfectly if not accidentally outstretched hands.

Or something like that. The point is, I watched it from my apartment. And while I have no doubt that the atmosphere inside the stadium was unbelievable, the elation did manage to make it all the way to Tuscaloosa.

I’m sure you’ve seen this video from Auburn Athletics of the reactions of various Auburn fans, both inside JHS and outside. As far as collective jubilation goes, it doesn’t get much better than that.


I watched this video about 20 times, and I watched it again when I copied the link to embed it here.

But there’s always another side to the scoreboard.

So there's this Georgia fan. We’ll call him Murray***, because that’s his name. Murray is a University of Georgia graduate and a fellow law student here at UA. He claims not to be a Dwag, so I give him the benefit of the doubt. Murray was kind enough to offer his reaction to the game in narrative form for our enjoyment.

In an homage to that literary analysis stuff none of us ever want to do again, let’s juxtapose a Murray’s and my reactions to the second half of the latest installment of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

In the third quarter, when things were looking pretty dark, I decided to stop watching and just listen to the radio while we faded into the night (which, by the way, was the most backwater homer broadcast I've ever heard. Seriously. They were calling our players by the wrong names and at one point the announcer yelled "War Eagle" when they got a first down).

After a first half that could only be described as delicious, I was nervous about keeping up the pace in the third and fourth quarters, but I wasn’t really worried. That should have been my first clue that things were about to go terribly, terribly wrong.

After a couple of unanswered touchdowns, I decided to turn the game back on, just in time to see Aaron "the beautiful baby-faced bastard" Murray drive all the way down the field and punch it in on a quarterback draw. At this point, I took off my shirt and started screaming obscenities at my computer.

After the second unanswered touchdown, I started yelling obscenities at everyone. But with just under two minutes to play and Auburn needing only a field goal, I had faith the Tigers could pull it off. And then the offense did what the offense had been doing throughout the entire fourth quarter: it stalled. My heart sank.

Things were looking pretty good. We’re sitting pretty with 30 seconds on the clock and a one-point lead. Even though reason spoke through the fog and told me I had nothing to worry about, a dark, growling voice deep inside of me knew that this was a lie. A damn lie. So I keep watching. My screaming devolved from actual English words (albeit incoherent ones), to a manic "YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA." I saw our old backup DB drop back in the pocket and take a sack. My "YAYA"s got louder. And then, on fourth-and-long, deep in his own territory, the man we recruited to steal laptops and ride the bench dropped back and delivered a wounded duck pass directly to two of our DBs.

I spent most of Auburn’s final drive not looking at the television screen. I wandered into my roommate’s room, possibly looking for a sharp object. I didn’t see the failed screen, I watched the failed pass, and I saw the tail end of Marshall becoming closely acquainted with Pat Dye Field. So there we were, fourth-and-18 from our own 27-yard line. Sitting at 9-1, poised to play Alabama for the SEC Western Division title and having just given up a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter to Georgia. Yeah, I was definitely looking for a sharp object. After back-to-back timeouts, Auburn lined up for all the marbles. I was literally in a half-squat, hanging from LT’s doorframe, forcing myself to watch the end of Auburn’s improbable miracle run. I held my breath when Marshall loosed the ball down the field, past a wide-open Sammie Coates, right to a pair of red helmets.

Then the unthinkable happened. I missed our running backs coach nosediving onto the field because I took a nosedive of my own onto my bedroom floor. While I waited for the final drive to end, I writhed, shirtless, alone, on my carpet and dreamed of a world where JUST ONE of my teams could have a satisfying season.

I just remember screaming. When Ricardo pulled in that catch, I just screamed. My brain was broken. I couldn't do anything else. There was only orange and blue and joy, just pure unadulterated blissful joy. I screamed for a good 40 seconds and then fell down. I had forgotten to breathe, which as it turns out, is why I fell down. I continued to scream on the floor of my apartment. I threw my shoes? I was told later, as I don’t super remember it very well, that I took off my Chacos and literally threw them in the air like confetti. War Eagle.

Meanwhile, some Gumps were confused about why I hadn’t shown up to dinner yet. In short, my small corner of the universe had collapsed and left a gaping void from which not even light could escape.

Let the record show that Murray used the G-word, not me. I refuse to engage Alabama fans until after their Taco Bye****.

Sunday, during my emotional hangover, the Falcons lost to the worst team in the NFL in grand fashion, and to top it all off, the Braves are moving to the f*cking suburbs (and even worse, not to MY suburb). Goodnight, cruel world.

For every jubilant Auburn fan on Saturday, there was an equally dejected Georgia fan, cursing the world. I’m just glad we were on the winning side of it this time. Call it a fluke, call it a miracle, call it whatever you want. Just when everything about that play went horribly wrong, Louis snatched victory out of thin air and all was right with the world. Saturday's game was just the latest classic in a historically great rivalry*****.

So onward and upward, right Tigers? Auburn is 10-1 and ranked No. 6 in the nation with one game left to play in the regular season. I haven’t properly gathered my thoughts about this Iron Bowl yet, but I will say this: Auburn isn’t supposed to win this game, but the Tigers can win this game. It will take near-perfect execution and old-fashioned luck, but you can bury the 2012 Auburn Tigers. This 2013 team isn’t afraid of anyone.

Enjoy this week, Tiger fans. Next week, the fun begins.

Until next time — War Eagle.

*As much as we criticize Holland (rightfully), he really stepped up during the Georgia game, and he deserves recognition for it. I hate that he won’t get credit for stopping Murray, but maybe he has one more miracle left in him for the Iron Bowl.

**And as much as I like to make fun of Aaron Murray, he is a gifted quarterback and I’m thrilled never to have to face him again. He and Mike Evans can frolic off to the NFL together, but they'll be living in our collective nightmares for years.

***Not of the Aaron variety.

****If you don’t watch The League, I don’t know what to do for you.

*****I was immensely relieved this game seemed to stay somewhat civil. Other than Mark Richt’s hissy fit about the fumble that was and then wasn’t, the teams seemed to stay mostly in control of their emotions. There were a few hard hits -- hello, Mr. Ford -- but nothing really "dirty" or beyond the pale. Before the game's dramatic finish, I'd hoped this could be a jumping off point for a friendlier rivalry. Unfortunately, Georgia will probably be out for blood next year. In Athens. Fasten your seatbelts for that one, folks.

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