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The Smoking Barn - IRON BOWL

It's all come down to this, and there ain't much left to burn, folks. Save yourselves.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

I hate Alabama.

I've always said that one day, I want scientists to hook me up to some kind of scanner that reads brain activity and say the words "Roll Tide" to me. I'll be damned if those charts don't catch fire and break that machine.

You cannot reason with an Alabama fan. Sure, you also can't reason with a Georgia fan, as I pointed out two weeks ago, but they don't live where I live. Bammers live where I live. You cannot reason with them.

Need some context? Have you ever tried to reason with a monkey? Exactly. You can't. A monkey will just rip your face off and wear it like a hat while it throws crap everywhere.

Don't even get me started on the Houndstooth thing. Why, just yesterday after Thanksgiving dinner, I turned on "Bo Over the Top" on SEC Rewind, and guess who wasn't wearing a Houndstooth hat? BEAR SCALLYWAGGIN' BRYANT. You should hate Houndstooth. Everyone should hate Houndstooth.

I hate Alabama so much that if world peace hinged on me getting along with its fans, congratulations—more war (/Dubya-face). I hate Alabama so much that if saving the rainforest only depended on me acknowledging 15 national championships, congratulations—"What were toucans like, daddy?" I hate Alabama so much that if by me saying, "Roll Tide," global warming was reversed, congratulations—we've got a dozen new water parks all along the Eastern seaboard.

Scientists say that it only takes like, 7 seconds to make a first impression on somebody. I would wager that it takes fewer seconds for me to figure out whether or not you pull for Alabama, and from that point on until we're both dead and gone, I'm going to judge you...hard...for everything...FOREVER.

Don't get me wrong—not every Alabama fan is completely delusio—PFFFFTTTTTT YEAH RIGHT THEY ALL ARE.

Alabama players have stupid names. Javier Arenas. Andrew Zow. Greg McElroy. Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. Julio Jones. Cyrus Kouandjio. Darius Hanks.

Sidenote: To quote my former college roommate, it's either WHOOLIO HOENAYS or JEWLIO JONES. None of this halfsies bull crap.

You can't just play football at Alabama—you have to have some outside gimmick so that Gary and Verne have something to talk about. LOOKIN' AT YOU, BARRETT JONES. I mean, hey, the bright side is that if the Duggar family ever needs a 30th member of their fiddle-playing cult, you could probably fill in without breaking a sweat.

Greg McElroy was touted as a world-class broadcaster while he was still in a Crimson uniform.

All AJ McCarron ever did was win, y'all! Why can't you just respect what that man did?

But they're so CUUUTTEEEE together, y'all. (I'm pretty sure Katherine Webb is that new girlfriend who's like, "EOH MYYY GAWWW" in "Shake it Off")

Hey, is Trent Richardson still on your fantasy team? EL-OH-FREAKIN'-EL

We go into Saturday the underdog. This isn't anything new to us—it's a role that seems to suit us quite well in many situations. It seems the general consensus is that we're going to get throttled in Bryant-Denny on Saturday. I just don't buy it. I mean, I also don't buy that "anything could happen" nonsense, but I especially don't believe that we're just going to lie down and let one of the most mediocre Alabama teams of this decade have its way with us.

I don't accept that a coaching staff with that terrible hair (seriously, check out Kirby Smart and Scott Cochran whenever they wear a visor) has the upper hand. I can't, don't, and won't accept that a man who got fired in an airport parking lot is a greater offensive wizard than our head coach. I say "head coach," because to even use our head coach's name in the same sentence with Lane Kiffin seems akin to the most utter blasphemy. I refuse to accept that Blake Sims is TIME's Person of the Year.

Let me break it down for you.

3. I would rather stick my entire forearm in a wood-chipper than pull for Alabama under any circumstance.

Auburn, for all of its troubles in the last few weeks, still leads the SEC in rushing thanks to a certain Cameron whose Art is Pain.

Oh, but WAIT. We can't just give him the title of leading rusher without reminding y'all that Todd Gurley was probably going to be the leading rusher this year, but since he got hurt or had a family situation or something (what kept him on the sideline for that long, again?), I guess we'll never know, so it's only fair that we throw him in there with an actual active SEC running back who happens to play for Auburn.

Auburn is 3rd in total offense in the SEC this season. Auburn averages (barely, but still) more points per game and produces more rushing yards per game than Alabama.

Yeah, our line might have some major Dr. Phil issues in big games, but Cameron Artis-Payne just don't care. Neither does Corey Grant. Nor does Roc Thomas. And guess what? They don't run standing straight up like a flamingo or have hot-dog fingers like TJ Yeldon.

Remember when Derrick Henry was the next Heisman front-runner for Bama after they got shellacked by Oklahoma last season? How's that working out for y'all?

Cameron Artis-Payne has put this team on his back all season. He's not slowing down just because he'll be playing on the road in a place that on a good day smells like whatever that stuff is under the shelves at Piggly Wiggly.

Advantage: Auburn

2. I'd rather stick my head in a box full of cats without an EpiPen than date or marry an Alabama grad.

Okay, so Blake Sims has been pretty good. I'll give y'all that one. But is he Jacob Coker good? I don't think so.

Is Jacob Coker still on all of those watch lists? Heisman, too? Did he ever try Accutane?

But really, how many Bama "elite" quarterbacks has Auburn faced over the years? Wait, sorry, that's a trick question, and it's offensive to Jay Barker, so I apologize.

I'm out of answers about Nick Marshall. I'm not sure what's been going through his head lately—


but it's like the lightning is gone from his eyes. He's quietly had a good season, but it's not Heisman-worthy. I hate saying that, but it's true. And yet, every week, I'm still convinced that he's the difference for this team. I still tell myself that he can make plays in the air and on the ground.

And that won't change on Saturday, but I might have a better idea of what to expect. I was in Bryant-Denny for 2010. That wasn't an easy environment—even for The Blessed One—but Cameron Jerrell Newton had that indescribable power that only $180,000 could buy. I just don't see that in Nick. Maybe he's been saving it for Saturday. Maybe he's going to blow us all away, and it'll be so incredible and spectacularly demoralizing for Blake Sims that he won't even suit up—he'll just hand his wristbands to Jacob Coker and say, "Well, have fun!"

I'm not one of those "BENCH HIS ASS AND GET JJ IN THERE" types, believe me. I did, however, become curiously aroused at Jeremy's passes last week in the 4th quarter against Samford. I mean, it was completely effortless, and I don't see how we just hide that under a bushel if things start going south this weekend.

Blake Sims. Oh, Blakey. We liked you better in 2012:

Advantage: Auburn (because our backup QB's don't really do gross stuff like that...they do this instead)

1. Your team has a sad little man that runs around screaming and exposing his armpits pretending he's Wolverine whenever he feels things start going south, and his name is Scott Cochran.

Your Honor, the first time I actually saw Scott Cochran during a game, I genuinely thought he was some kind of special guy Bama took in as a part of some kind of state-run exchange program for voice immodulation sufferers, and that's me being classy and gracious and what-not, because SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THAT MAN?

I have this idea for an alarm clock, and it's just a regular alarm clock, but instead of that awful, ear-piercing, middle-school basketball game buzzer coming from your nightstand, it's just Scott Cochran murder-yelling the alphabet, or counting to twenty, or ordering breakfast at Hardee's. Just in time for Christmas!

It's amazing to me that Bammers are always calling us "little brother." Funny you mention that. I'm legitimately an older brother in my family, and last I checked, I don't remember a time where I kept reminding my little brother who he was to make myself feel better. I certainly didn't parade around the kitchen screaming "GIT THOSE FORESSS UP YEAHYEAHYEAHYEAEAGHHGGHEGHGHG" at him when it was his turn to do the dishes growing up. I guess the representation of 15 mysterious national titles in every print-media form within a thousand-mile radius isn't good enough for you to feel fuzzy inside—you need some mentally unstable lizard man who could potentially be Tom Cruise's secret cousin that the rest of the family "just doesn't talk about anymore" with crushed-up marbles in his throat screaming at you in the 4th quarter about being loud.

Does he splash the goldfish at Walmart to remind them that they're wet?

Sure, we had Trooper Taylor, so let's all take 60 seconds to laugh at this fact.




No, it's okay. I'll wait.





Okay, that's better.

I'll never forget that roid-raged huckleberry's face when Lutzie pulled that game-winning catch in to put those boys down like Old Yeller in 2010.

Advantage: Auburn (I'm pretty sure Gus doesn't allow murder-yelling in his ranks, nor AWOL time-traveling Vietnam soldiers to coach football)

So what have we learned here? Probably nothing. My hate for the Crimson Tide will only ever exacerbate my utterly incoherent babbling. But for those of you expecting a moral, let me make this simple for you:

I don't care if we lose Saturday. I don't want us to lose, but you know, it's not the end of the world if we do. And let's face it, we've probably earned some serious karma after we all used the "one sec" or "just a sec" jokes at the office 24/7 for an entire year. Not that it wasn't the greatest thing we've ever witnessed at the expense of our biggest rival and the worst fan base since the Philistines, but come on. It would give writers SOOOO much content to get them through to Signing Day if Nick Don Corleone Saban got his sweet revenge this Saturday.

I think we can win Saturday. Nay, we will win on Saturday. But even if we don't, even if it's not close and Blake Sims is made the hero we'll never get another shot against and Amari Cooper becomes transfigured into a beaming archangel with Houndstooth wings, it'll be okay. I mean, yeah, it'll suck for the next 365 days (and if you don't believe me, move to Birmingham and experience how many 2010 Chevy Tahoes still have Oregon stickers on them...or Florida State stickers on top of Oregon stickers), but I'll learn to live with it somehow.

Because you know what? I'm proud that I bleed orange and blue. I'm proud that both of my parents bleed orange and blue and have degrees from Auburn. I'm proud that I have two degrees from Auburn. I'm proud that Auburn is proud—to be Auburn. I'm proud that we have a coach that didn't sell his soul to the devil. I'm proud that no matter what happens in the next week, next year, or next twenty years, that I'm not a stupid, ignorant, delusional, backwards, cousin-kissing, carjacking, parole-violating, PIECE OF HOT GARBAGE THAT IS AN ALABAMA FAN.


And this team? They have nothing to lose on Saturday. They have one more chance for greatness, and they have every reason to leave it all on the field and send these seniors off with another victory against the Alabama Crimson Tide. For goodness sakes, Auburn, don't send me back to work on Monday to deal with the guy next to me who graduated from Mississippi State BUT PULLS FOR BAMA BECAUSE "I GREW UP HERE WHY IS THAT SO HARD FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND, BOBBY???"




Final Advantage: Auburn

Opposing Team/Coach/Fanbase Hate Index: 10/10

Score Prediction: Auburn 31, Alabama 21

Because where there's smoke, there's fire, and I'll fire these hot takes until the cows come home. FOR THE LAST TIME, DO NOT TELL ME HOW TO BARN, SIR. WAR DAMN EAGLE ALWAYS.