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History Repeating? Auburn-Ole Miss

What does the birth of the “Greatest American Painter of the latter-half of the 20th Century” have to do with this week’s Auburn game?

Arkansas State v Auburn
The Happiest Tree

Four in a row. This Auburn team is starting to figure itself out, and we are beginning to see signs of the offensive chainsaw that the Malzahn playbook can create. The defense is terrifying and capable of winning games all by itself. Who would have thought, at the end of the Clemson game, we would be sitting here 5-2 with two straight fire bombings against SEC West teams? Auburn looked pretty rough, and almost unwatchable way back then.

Queue up Billy Joe Shaver:

The Tigers just needed some time to polish off them rough edges, y’all.

Now, we are living high on the hog (pun intended) and looking at a road test against an SEC opponent who desperately needs a win. Will momentum keep our beloved Tigers from tripping, or will the Rebels turn their terrible fortunes around? There really is only one way to know.

We must consult the past, we must gaze into the gaping maw of days-gone-by, grasping at anything we can find.

Bob Ross’ Birthday

Robert Norman Ross was born On October 29, 1942, in Daytona Beach, Florida. His life wasn’t an easy one. He lost part of his left index finger in a carpentry accident as a young man, but didn’t let that stand in his way. He joined the Air Force at 18, later achieving the rank of master sergeant. He was a tough guy, and even was known to be a man who screamed at his subordinates.

One day, he swore he would never scream again, and retired from the military after 20 years of service. He studied painting and developed a quick painting technique which allowed him to sell his work quickly and spread his love of landscapes to others. He began hosting a television program, The Joy of Painting, teaching his technique to viewers, and basically being the chillest dude alive.

For years, Bob Ross taught millions of people how to paint, and even more how to relax. People would put his program on just to watch him paint, and to listen to his calming voice and effortlessly happy attitude.

People need to be told they are allowed to find joy around them. They need someone to give them permission to be happy and to be satisfied with the way things are. Cynicism is the easy way out. It takes guts to see a blank canvas and to create something from nothing. It takes guts to be willing to make mistakes, and to tell others they are allowed to make mistakes too. It takes guts to rock a perm and to take the gospel of positivity to the masses by way of simple oil paintings.

Auburn-Ole Miss

Auburn will travel to Oxford, Mississippi, on October 29, 2016. Bob Ross would be turning 74 if he were still with us. Road games in the SEC West are never easy. Especially when you are playing a team with as much talent as the Rebel Black Bears have on their roster. It will take a complete game from the offense and defense to get out of Oxford with the victory.

Auburn has shown the willingness to be creative on offense. With Coach Lashlee calling the plays, the Tigers have moved the ball consistently and are setting records running the ball. The confidence on offense is staggering when you compare it to the first two weeks of the season. The o-line is eliminating penetration, allowing Auburn to gain yards almost every time it snaps the ball. They line up knowing they are about to gash the other team with the run. The Auburn running backs believe they have the advantage up front, which allows them to believe they can score on every play.

Risk-aversion and Bob Ross didn’t go together. In the same way, any team that runs the Gus Malzahn offense can’t be afraid of risk. The slow developing pass plays, the jet sweeps, the multiple times Auburn runs the exact same play at a team all take guts to pull off. The offense has to believe they know something the defense doesn’t.

On the other side of the ball, Auburn is crushing teams. As good as the 2013 team was, it didn’t have the ability to shut opponents down as completely as this team does. Ole Miss is coming off two straight losses to teams Auburn has beaten. LSU held Ole Miss to 33% on third down, a full seven percentage points lower than the Rebels season average. Auburn is allowing opponents to convert on only 29% of its third downs this season, a number that is good for 12th best nationally. The LSU Tigers are ranked 17th in that same measurement. If you have noticed, I bring up third down conversion every week because it is a great indicator of how good teams are doing against your defense. If you can get an offense off the field, they can’t score on you. Duh.

Some of my favorite Auburn memories involve being in Auburn on away-game weekends, watching the game at home or at a bar, and rushing to roll Toomer’s right after the game ends. Everyone who is still in town is there. You see people you haven’t seen outside of class and even run into a professor or two which is like seeing Bigfoot in the wild. You don’t have to worry about getting in the way of some family picture a mom is forcing a dad and a toddler to stand still to take. You can just go nuts celebrating and decorating trees like worshippers of Bacchus (Running Bacchus U).

Toomer’s Oaks are happy trees. Bob Ross always painted happy trees. Auburn is winning this game, you guys. No way the team with happy trees is going to blow a chance to celebrate the life and positive energy of Bob Ross.

Many Auburn fans will point at the 2013 team as their favorite. Even though 2010 won the whole thing, there is something special about the 2013 team. The imperfection of dropping the LSU game early and even losing the National Championship only make that team a little more lovable. The 2016 team has a chance to be one of my favorite Auburn teams of all time. They need to win this one this week and a couple others, but to see a team start so clumsily and then pick itself up so well is inspiring. This team is more fun to watch because it is doing such unexpected things.

RIP Bob.

Our Happy Trees are getting rolled.

Auburn 42

Ole Miss 28