Will the 2014 Auburn Tigers play for a national championship? It doesn’t look good right now. But here’s one thing we know. If we win our next three games, and if we can slip into the SEC championship game and win it, we should be in the playoff. I don’t mean should in the sense that we will be. I mean we will deserve to be (and I think we will be).
With a four team playoff, whoever wins the SEC championship game deserves to be in it, no matter how many losses. If you win the best conference, you’ve earned the chance to keep playing. What if it’s Georgia, or Missouri or Alabama? Yes, to all. But I hope we beat all those, and the champion representing the best conference will be Auburn.
It’s difficult to be confident this week, but it’ll be easier next week after we’ve whipped Georgia in Athens. I’ve said all season that the 2014 Tigers are an up-and-down team. The A&M debacle was our typical down week—we looked good at moments, but those moments were too few, and not great enough, to overcome the worst moments.
For Georgia we’ll be up. Our D will stuff Gurley time and again. Richt will keep running him at us, and our guys will keep stopping him, and we’ll all be scratching our heads, wondering, where were these guys last week? That’s how it goes sometimes. It’s football—it doesn’t always make sense. Another thing that usually doesn’t make sense is for the Auburn Family to want Alabama to win.
You don’t have to pull for Alabama Saturday. You don’t have to care. But the question we’re asking in these posts is whether Auburn will play for the national championship. At this point, for that to happen Alabama has to win Saturday. Fortunately, you don’t have to pull for Alabama to enjoy the benefit of them winning. But I certainly wouldn’t waste any guts on pulling against them Saturday, because they’re gonna win—probably by two or three touchdowns.
State has made a great run. If we’d had our coffee the morning of October 11, it would’ve ended then. It’s going to end Saturday. Whether State can manage to lose the Egg Bowl, I don’t know. I know they’ll have to for us to make the playoff. And who are we going to playoff against?
The question of who Auburn will meet in the national championship game seems trickier now than any other week. Here’s my current guess. Auburn (4) will beat Oregon (1) in one semi-final; TCU (3) will beat Free Shoes (2) in the other. The Tigers will then improve our series lead over the Frogs to 4–0.
Have I eliminated the above scenario from possibility by proving it imaginable? Maybe so. But what matters most now is beating Georgia; putting the loss to A&M behind us. If we win the rest of our games, but State beats bama or Ole Miss, the A&M loss will sour powerfully among the most pungent of all time. If things work out, it'll become a footnote, remembered best as the day I sat next to Joe Cribbs.
Are we going back to the national championship game? Yes. The dream is endangered, but not extinct.
Stop Gurley. Beat Georgia. War Eagle.
Josh Dowdy is a College & Mag contributor. He also writes about Auburn sports and the Auburn Family at heartofauburn.com.