Saturday night was the second time this season I've watched one of my teams storm back from a large half time deficit and be in an excellent place to win the game only to lose it on a controversial fumble ruling. The first was Georgia Southern vs Georgia Tech. Then there was last night.
Even then I was confident. I knew if the Tigers could hold right there, they could get the ball back in excellent field position to at least tie the game. And they did just that. Only to have one of the most reliable things in Auburn football - Reese Dismuke's snaps, get messed up. I couldn't really see clearly what happened, so I don't know where the blame lies for that, but it still hurts and I know it hurts Reese and Nick more than anyone else.
As ugly as the first half was - and it was very ugly - the second half was a revelation. For all the complaints about the defense, they played much better in the 2nd half. It just wasn't enough. I've seen people say Auburn deserved to lose this one. Maybe. I don't buy it though. The Tigers should have won. They just couldn't get it done.
Nick Marshall. This is a standard every week. Sure, there's blame for the fumbled hand off, but other than that Nick had a great night from what I can remember of the game. He was placing deep balls perfectly. He was throwing great passes over the middle. His receivers just didn't help him out with making all of the grabs that they should have. He was 15/21 for 219 yards. Nick did everything he could do last night and I'm damn proud he's our quarterback.
Cameron Artis-Payne. I said it last week, but does anyone doubt CAP, now? 30 caries for 221 yards.
Jermaine Whitehead. His return sparked something at times and he played like a man trying to make up for lost time. He picked up right where he left off: with an interception. I'm glad to have him back on the field.
The First Half Defense. I... I just don't even know. I don't know why our defense has regressed so much. Maybe it's that we just weren't playing good offenses earlier in the season.
Losing Duke Williams. This one is by far one of the worst. I have yet to see what it is, but have seen rumors of MCL tear. I stress rumors. The good news is that he can recover from that and could even still play this season. It still just sucks to lose him. I do feel the need to point out something good, though: losing Duke had nothing to do with us losing that football game. The receivers who stepped up in his place - including Quan Bray - played well. This is a talented receiving corps and Coach Craig has done excellent things with them.
Fumbles. Fumbles. Fumbles. It was pointed out that in terms of fumble "luck," Auburn was the worst team in the country going into this game. It just got even worse after last night.
This team can still win out. Yes. Yes, they can. The season is not over. Last night hurts, but we've still got big rivalry games to go. I haven't looked at all the scenarios, but we could still end up in a four-way tie for the SEC West with Alabama, MSU, and Ole Miss. There is still a lot to play for. I know it's tough to do, but just always remember that the sun will rise tomorrow and there is life after football. For me, I'm going to spend the afternoon at this little guy's first birthday party:
War Eagle, Always.