My expectation for Auburn's 2014 is to win the national championship. It's not what I'm hoping for, or my best-case scenario. It's what I think will happen.
I understand the dangers of this mindset. But it's my right as a fan. If I want to presume—before we've beaten anybody—that we're gonna beat everybody, that's the luxury of being a fan instead of a player or coach.
I expect 2014 will be perfect. Usually the word perfect means one thing—winning every game. For this season, however, there are three different flavors of perfection Auburn can potentially achieve. Here's what I mean.
Auburn can attain level 1 perfection in 2014 by winning the inaugural college football playoff, even with a loss in the regular season. A one-loss championship will still perfect the quest for a championship carried over from 2013. It will still right the wrong of blowing it in Pasadena.
This scenario may be impossible because the CFP selection committee will likely not take a one-loss Auburn team. I am ascribing to them the anti-Auburn bias of the AP voters before they've shown it, but if you're an Auburn fan you understand me presuming them guilty until proven otherwise.
By the way, in 2013 the AP voters put themselves in a spot where they had no choice but to vote a one-loss Auburn into the BCS championship game. If they had thought there was any chance in hell Alabama could lose to Auburn, they would have voted Auburn lower in the weeks preceding the Iron Bowl so as to keep the door open for an alternative. It's not a mistake they would have made twice.
If Auburn wins the CFP playoff without having lost a regular season game, I'll count that as level 2 perfection. This condition begs the question, what can be level 3? What is more perfect than winning every game? You probably know where I'm going, but first let's cover level 2.
Winning every game of 2014-15 will do more than just right the wrong of Pasadena. It will overcome that loss, because an undefeated championship season will be a greater prize than what we let slip away at the Rose Bowl.
Also, an undefeated season will be the perfect tribute to the 2004 Auburn Tigers as we celebrate the ten year anniversary of that incredible team. I will be plenty happy with level 2 perfection
Level 3 is beating free shoes. I mean no real disrespect to Florida State by calling them free shoes. I've been calling them that for years. I say it because I like Steve Spurrier, and because it's funny, and because it's fewer syllables than Florida State, or even FSU.
In Pasadena we let the Seminoles off the hook. No ACC team has any business being declared the best team in the country, because they don't play a conference schedule that allows them to prove it. The 2013 BCS championship is nobody's screw up but Auburn's. The most complete way for us to make it right is to beat free shoes in Arlington.
Meanwhile . . .
I know the first thing that matters isn't Arlington, but Arkansas. I'm hungry for that game, as I know our team is, and you are, too. I hope we'll come out against the Hogs and play mistake-free football—the perfect beginning to a perfect season.
Josh Dowdy is a College & Mag contributor and the author of Orange Is Our Color: The Tuberville Years through Navy-tinted Glasses.