Let's just skip the fanfare. I was never made for the spotlight.
The island I've lived on for about four months got a little lonely. Despite having Elvis, Tupac, and Aubielicious to keep me company (he says, "Hi," by the way), I realized I just couldn't stay away from my leather mistress—football. Twitter is annoying, and it can be downright depressing...awful, even—it still is in a lot of ways—but it's home to the most unique network of Auburn fans and Barn enthusiasts, and in the last few months, I've come to understand just how meaningful my friendships are with the likes of these College and Mag founding fathers and mothers.
So anyway, let's not get all mushy here. I'll be honest, it's gonna be slow getting this motor cranking to the full Barnin' capacity you became used to last season. But we're just gonna get right to it, here. Your unabashed Hard-Barner (who, I remind you, isn't afraid to Hard-Barn so that you don't have to) has returned to give you one more piece of Internet rah-rah to peruse on your Friday workdays. Let's be real—are any of y'all actually going to work tomorrow?
Here we go. The Chick-fil-a Kickoff game in Atlanta. The Georgia Dome. This is gonna be peachy.
Ah, Bobby Petrino. I hope you're wearing a helmet, because I'm out here crackin' skulls.
This week's edition of The Smoking Barn will be so simple that even Jesse Palmer can grasp it without waving his high-five hands, one of which is holding a pencil (WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS HOLDING A PENCIL??? WHAT STANDARDIZED TEST MUST YOU ALWAYS BE IN THE MIDDLE OF TAKING WHILE YOU'RE ON A LIVE TELEVISION BROADCAST???).
We're going to break down this Saturday's match-up with...
/revs up V-twin engine...
FOUR INDIVIDUALS THAT COULD RIDE A MOTORCYCLE BETTER THAN BOBBY PETRINO
(Okay, calm down, it's my first day back. Geez...)
1. "Columbus" from Zombieland / The Jeremy Johnson Era Begins
I've been told I look like Jesse Eisenberg. My hair used to be curly like his. Maybe again someday...
In this scene from one of my favorite guilty pleasure, "oh, hey, it's on TV, let's not mow the lawn so we can watch this for the 50th time" films, Eisenberg takes a bigger flop on the bike than The Social Network did trying to convince us that the Winklevii ($1 @LonelyTailgater) were a couple of handsome dudes. Or maybe a bigger flop than Kristen Stewart's acting career.
Is that second one better? Let's go with the second one. Y'all, I'm still shaking off the rust. Gimme a break.
You know who's not going to flop this Saturday? Jeremy Johnson. I feel like every time he's mentioned on the Interwebs, there oughta be a video compilation of his highlights set to the Jeremiah Johnson theme song. Then we could use this GIF wayyyy more often. It's so close, anyway. Would anyone really notice the extra "iah" instead of the "y"? I think not.
Last year, we had to sit in our living rooms and listen to Jesse Palmer drone on and on and ON about how "Jeremy Johnson was the best back-up quarterback in the country." Except, Jesse never really (to my knowledge) definitively gave him that title. There was always a "maybe" thrown in there for good measure. Because, c'mon, y'all—a guy who uses that much hyperbole has to build a safety net with his fancy word talking...language...thing.
Jeremy Johnson is going to do everything but flop in the Georgia Dome on Saturday. The only legitimate, literal flopping he might actually do is dive and flop gracefully over one of our linemen into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the day from a goal line formation.
Believe the hype. Jeremy Johnson is the Real Deal behind the Gus Bus Wheel. I don't care who Louisville starts at quarterback. You don't win the coveted "Mr. Football" in this state for nothing.
Quarterback Advantage: Auburn
2. The Cops Who Chased Jason Bourne All Over Europe / The Prodigal Son Returns
Remember how simple life was back in the mid-2000's? Could you even tweet about movies then?
Nobody could ever catch Jason Bourne, and especially not those namby pamby French pastries on two wheels they call policemen in Europe. There's no telling how many motorcycle crashes there are in all three of those movies, but I guarantee you—I'm getting on the back of one of those cops' bikes before I ever saddle up with Bobby Petrino.
I mean, at least the cops have guns, right? Bobby Petrino just had...uh...buns, apparently.
You know who else can't ever be caught (you know, besides Nick Saban for bringing a known woman-beater into his program with open arms and a free lecture on second chances to the Alabama Media Group)?
Duke. Freakin'. Williams.
Y'all, I'm serious. This kid is going to blow up. He's already made it back up the ladder during practice, he's made the effort to do what Gus asked of him after his troubles, and he's got a team of guys rallying behind him.
I really don't see how you can doubt the kid anymore.
Did anyone see the highlight videos from last month? Any of them? I genuinely forgot how good of a receiver he is. Granted, the Iron Bowl was not a pretty sight to behold at times, but that was a year ago. And sure, we can talk about all of these off-the-field issues the kids had, but I see him as a beautiful mind...a tortured artist...a monster waiting to be unleashed on a questionable secondary.
What's that? I Barn too much? Please.
I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO BARN.
Best Receiver in the Country (Hi, Jesse!) Advantage: Auburn
3. Peter Griffin in a Shopping Cart / RUNNING BACK U IS...BACK
Remember when Family Guy used to be funny? Remember when Seth MacFarlane gave a rip? Sigh.
"OH, THEM AWBARNS ARE GOIN' RUNNIN' BACK BY COMMITTEE THEY AIN'T GOT NO RUNNIN' BACK PAWWWLLLL"
...scream the masses of Houndstooth zealots who worship a tiny little angry man whose best option at quarterback this season ISN'T EVEN THE GUY WHO'S BEEN ON TWO PRESEASON HEISMAN WATCHLISTS ALREADY /INHAAALLLEEEEEE
Sorry. I forgot what it's like to talk like Mark May.
Look, it's the first game of the season. Whether we have a genuine starter at the RB spot or we have to find out after two or three of them have racked up 100+ yards each on Saturday, it just doesn't bother me. Every one of our running backs has the talent to succeed. I can't really think of a running back in a Malzahn offense that's done so poorly that we immediately erased him from our history like Seth MacFarlane wishes he could do with Ted and Ted 2.
Louisville's front four might be good, sure. Great, even. But Running Back U is coming to Atlanta, and we're not having a job fair.
Running Back Advantage: Auburn
4. ANY GERMAN EVER / Carl Lawson. Is. Hungry.
Seriously, has there ever been a competent German solider on a motorcycle in the history of American cinema? You show me a Steve McQueen film where a German looks better on a bike than he does, and I'll gladly shut up. And then we might as well hand the keys to the country (sorry, Jesse) over to the Germans.
Ein sorry, der Deutschland. Weir ich ben WUSSIES.
(Yeah, that's not real German. Sue me. Well, not you, Greece.)
CAN I TRY TO EXPRESS TO YOU MY SCHOOLBOYISH EXCITEMENT THAT CARL LAWSON—AKA THE MAN CHILD BOY MAN BOY WHO EATS QUARTERBACKS FOR SNACKS AND THEN SKIPS BACK HOME FOR DESSERT—IS BACK AND READY TO DEVOUR ALL FOUR OF LOUISVILLE'S SHADY QBS?????
I tried, and I've failed. The first time I saw him in person was in 2013 after the SEC Championship Game. The team somehow made it back to Auburn in time to celebrate downtown. The encounter went something like this:
/walking towards Sky Bar
ME: Hey, are you Carl Lawson?
CARL: Yeah, man!
ME: OH MAN I'M GONNA HUG YOU YOU'RE MY HERO
CARL: Oh, all right, cool! Yeah man!
That's exactly how it happened.
I don't care what people say about Will Muschamp. Yes, it's going to be a challenging first year, and no, our defense is not going to be perfect. I don't even know what to expect, to be quite honest with you. I do know this, however—Muschamp's intensity was working wonders on Day One. The veterans on this team recognized it immediately. I believe in it.
That by itself is reason to believe this defense will be miles above the dumpster fire we witnessed towards the end of last season. Believe that. True freshmen? Yep, that's a little scary. Louisville's offense? Yeah, it's good. Is it going to destroy us? No.
MAN CHILD ON DEFENSE ADVANTAGE: AUBURN
And now, here's a list of honorable mentions for those characters who were not fortunate enough to make the list of motorcyclists who could ride better than "Jetgate Bobby" (or whatever that putrid phlegm was that seeped out of Charles Hollis' brain in today's preview):
5. Evel Knievel in a full body cast jumping over 50 buses (Millennials/Gen Z'ers: get off your phone for a second and ask your Dad or maybe Uncle Frank who that is. I'll accept handwritten thank-you notes.)
(Wait, "What's a handwritten thank-you note?" ARE YOU KIDDING ME, COME ON, FUTURE AMERICANS)
6. The "Unicycle Guy" on Auburn's campus
7. The guys from Mythbusters
8. ANY of the Red Bull Flugtag apparatuses
9. President Obama in mom jeans
10. A kid born after 2001 named "Ethan" or "Aidan" or "Devlin" or "Kaleb" or "Constandino" (yeah, I stole all of these)
Look, just bear with me, okay? I've been talking to a volleyball like it was a person for four months. I'm barely in the swing of Twitter again. I hope this doesn't lose me any followers...
Final Advantage: Auburn
Opposing Team/Coach/Fanbase Hate Index: 6.8/10
Score Prediction: Auburn 38, Louisville 24
I will be back next week, and these will get better, folks. I promise. For now, I leave you with these familiar, yet improved-for-quality words:
Where there's smoke, there's fire, and I'll fire it up hot until the cows come home.
DON'T TELL ME HOW TO BARN. WAR DAMN EAGLE.