By Jay Coulter
Christmas came and went in a hurry this year. It seems like only last week that Auburn was finishing off Alabama in the Iron Bowl and now we are starring down the barrel of the final game of the year.
The college football season goes by too fast. We’ll try to make the most of the last week here at Track’em Tigers.
I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas. I sure did. As much as I love the holidays, it’s good to get back to thinking about Auburn football. This week should be a lot of fun.
All of the players made it safely into Atlanta last night. Unlike other games, the players are responsible for getting themselves to the bowl site. I always hold my breath that they’ll all make it on-time and safely.
"Everybody's here," said Tommy Tuberville. "It was a little tough getting in weather-wise, but the guys are fired up."
Auburn didn’t waste anytime moving away from Christmas festivities to bowl business. They held a mandatory team meeting last night that was followed by a lengthy film session to break down the Clemson schemes.
The team is scheduled to practice today at 11:00 CT. at Georgia Tech. With the weather rainy and cold in the Atlanta area, there’s still a chance they may move the session indoors to the Georgia Dome. This will mark Auburn’s first practice in nearly a week.
As I said earlier this month, I think this game brings much more excitement than a trip to the Outback Bowl. For one, Auburn gets to play a more interesting opponent in Clemson. It also gives fans an easy trip to see the Tigers play – if you can find a ticket.
Tuberville seems to agree.
"This is a great bowl game for us," Tuberville said. "It gives our fans that might not have enough money to travel to Dallas or Orlando an opportunity to come here to watch us play.
"This will be the hardest bowl ticket to get of any bowl, including the national championship game, because you've got two rivals teams that kind of mold themselves against each other. Both of us recruit Atlanta. It's going to be great for both teams to showcase their teams for a week. Players will be able to see it, and both teams will benefit."
Picking bowl game winners is always difficult. With teams taking so much time off, it’s not always the best team that wins, but rather the team that can shake off the rust and get ready to play.
By the time Auburn and Clemson take the field, it will have been 36 days since both teams played a game.
One thing is certain: Auburn is taking Clemson very seriously – and they should. This is a good football team that has an explosive offensive that will be a test for our talented defense. They finished strong, winning five of their final six games.
"They're a good football team," Tuberville said. "They could have won 11 games. They were very unlucky in some regards. They have a good team. They're very physical, and have a lot of speed.
"They're very similar to us. They have a lot of great athletes. Tommy (Bowden) has been there the same amount of time as I've been at Auburn. They've had their ups and downs, but this is one of the better teams I've seen them have in the last four or five years."
If you are in the process of making travel reservations for next season’s game at West Virginia, you may want to stop. It appears that officials from both schools are in talks to move the game to later in the year.
One word: Television. ESPN has approached Mountaineer officials about moving the game to a Thursday night toward the end of the season. I’m not sure if this benefits Auburn or not.
On the one hand, the Tigers never seem to open the season well against big name opponents. But moving it to Amen Corner time can also cause problems. It seems that Auburn officials are willing to juggle their schedule to make it happen. Stay tuned.