I wish I could view the world like my six-year old daughter. That was the only thought running through my head as I left Jordan Hare Saturday afternoon.
Saturday was her fourth Auburn game. We witnessed what was almost the worst loss in modern Auburn history. That doesn't do it justice. It would have been the worst loss in modern college football history. If there was a point spread Saturday, it would have been 41 points. That equals the largest point spread ever in a college football upset, the 2007 Stanford/USC game. It would have been worse than that game because Stanford was at least nominally I-A in 2007. It would have been worse than the other SEC/I-AA losses like Citadel/Arkansas, Maine/Miss State, Georgia Southern/Florida, and Jack State/Ole Miss because (1) none of those SEC teams thought they were good and (2) none of those opponents shared a state with their victims.
I (along with the rest of y'all) sat watching the train wreck as it happened. Jacksonville State out gained Auburn by 100 yards during regulation play. Jeremy Johnson again had trouble spotting defenders dropping into his pre-selected passing lanes. Auburn's defense gave up long third downs time and time again. Auburn racked up a few more key injuries. After Auburn fumbled the ball deep in the red zone with three minutes to go, I had very little hope that we'd get another chance and the bad thing was, you couldn't write it off as a fluke. My thoughts looked something like this:
In the seat next to me, my daughter was blissfully unaware of how bad things were. She was just happy to be in the stadium eating a hot dog. She had seen Tiger Walk and watched the basketball team scrimmage. We shared a funnel cake. We saw the eagle fly and then eat a 25 foot mouse on the new jumbotron. I was afraid of undying humiliation if Auburn lost; she was afraid of going down the stairs in the crush of people exiting the stadium.
She doesn't know the difference between Jacksonville State and Louisiana State. When Auburn won in overtime, she was overjoyed. I was at best relieved.
We hung around in the stadium for a while listening to the Marching Southerners. They played the William Tell Overture, the theme of one of our favorite Hulu shows, The Lone Ranger. She laughed and danced along.
And in that moment, I wished I could be like her: blissfully ignorant of the killer meteor that grazed the atmosphere. Unconditionally happy that Auburn won.
But I just couldn't get there.
Auburn is 2-0 and we have 7 days to get healthy and improve before traveling to LSU on Saturday. We don't know yet what what kind of team we have. Auburn has been intentionally vanilla on offense and defense but our game planning has been less problematic than our execution and injuries. In an otherwise dismal afternoon, Peyton Barber showed flashes of being the best running back of the Malzahn era. After the next two Saturdays, we'll have a better idea about how good the team will be. I think the Auburn that we see Saturday will be a lot better than the team we saw yesterday. At least, I hope so.