I've said it before, and I'll say it again...
The Auburn - Georgia rivalry is the best and most unique in all of college football. Forget the Iron Bowl - it has gotten way too mean and personal. Watching the Iron Bowl is like passing a kidney stone. It only feels good at the end - and that's assuming you win.
As we ramp up for the South's Oldest Rivalry, never has a 7-3 record felt so good. Last week I commented in a thread that Amen Corner (games with Georgia and Alabama) make bad seasons good and good ones great. This year may be the exception. Considering the circumstances, this season has been pretty darn good already, regardless of what happens in the final month.
I'll stop short of saying winning the last two games of the year is gravy - we know better. However, regardless of what happens from here on out, this Auburn season has been special. I'll gladly spend late December in Shreveport with a huge smile on my face.
What a difference a year makes.
One year ago, Tommy Tuberville was circling the drain, though no one really believed it. Auburn limped into the Georgia game after losing four of its last five and stood at 5-5 overall. It was the worst of times for the Auburn faithful.
The job Gene Chizik has done since his arrival makes those events seem like years ago. Even Saturday's win over Furman had a feel of bigness to it - not because of what happened on the field, but what took place on Friday.
The commitment of Little Rock, Arkansas running back Michael Dyer may be the biggest in school history. The top rated back in the country according to ESPN, Dyer could have literally attended any school in the country. He chose Auburn and that says a lot.
He may become the next Bo Jackson or Alan Evans. It doesn't matter. That's not what's important here. What matters is that this staff can sell the Auburn program to the best in the nation and win. The Dyer commitment will likely have a domino effect that will bring in more four and five star recruits in the coming weeks. Again, what a difference a year makes.
Now we turn our attention to Georgia. Who would have guessed back in the summer that more heat would be on the seat of Georgia's Mark Richt than on Auburn's Chizik? A wounded program is a dangerous one. Ask Georgia. They nearly lost to Tuberville's Tigers last year despite being better in every department. Saturday should be another classic.
While this year's edition will not have national or conference ramifications, the stakes are in some ways much higher. Chizik is looking for an eighth win in a year when six would have been cause for celebration. He's laying a foundation where year one results mean everything to the future of a program. And ultimately, as with all Auburn coaches, Chizik will be judged by his record against Georgia and Alabama.
Richt is feeling heat for the first time in his career. Georgia Athletic Director Damon Evans has not been overly supportive in his public statements about Richt this season. While his job is not in jeopardy, he knows staff changes will have to come at year's end. A win over Auburn and Georgia Tech can do wonders in cooling a warm backside.
Auburn vs. Georgia is special. It's family. The two schools have more inbreeding than the local dog pound. The connections between the two programs are fascinating and so intertwined that at times it's downright weird.
Even this blog owes something to Georgia. When we started Track'em Tigers three seasons ago, the first SB Nation blogger to welcome us was T Kyle King over at Dawg Sports.com. We literally had no traffic for days and then he welcomes us to SB Nation on his site and we have a rash of well wishes from Georgia fans. It was pretty cool. I just can't picture that happening anywhere else.
King loves to write that he hates Auburn, but I know better. His actions speak louder than his words. As we build up to the game this week, be sure to stop by his site to get a Georgia prospective. And as always, we'll be with you throughout the week. War Eagle!