Well. I guess Georgia was pretty mad.
I watched Saturday’s SEC Championship game under three blankets on my couch surrounded by Walgreens’ entire line of over-the-counter cold supplies. I briefly contemplated switching out the DayQuil for NyQuil and napping through the game to avoid the anxiety, and that was when I still thought we were going to win. Needless to say, watching that game wasn’t an overly pleasant experience. If you dislike me and wish ill upon me, take solace in the complete picture of my Saturday misery. I earned it.
Auburn ran out of gas against a good team, and Georgia made them pay. Georgia was caught flat-footed against the Tigers in November, but Kirby Smart’s team was ready for whatever the Tigers threw at them this time. Add that to inopportune injuries and we just got beat*. Once it became clear that the offense was hamstrung without its feature back and the defense lost two crucial starters for the second half, the outcome was all but a foregone conclusion. I hate it for the players, especially the seniors. They believed they deserved to play for a national championship, and maybe they did. But it just wasn’t in the cards this year. The reality is that there are 129 FBS schools and only four playoff slots. Auburn, a team that has lost three games, won’t be one of those four.
After last year, Auburn fans wanted to see improvement from Gus Malzahn. Specifically we wanted to see Auburn compete for the West, the SEC championship, and/or a national championship. Basically we wanted Auburn to be in the hunt. For something. Auburn accomplished that this year. It could have accomplished so much more, but what it did accomplish is hard to ignore. I hope he can build on it next year. Even years don’t include the favorable home schedule, but perhaps another year with this quarterback will be the key. Look, I’m bitterly disappointed in Saturday’s result, but I don’t want it to take anything away from the rest the season. Auburn won ten games playing one of the toughest schedules in the country. If you want to call me a sunshine pumper for holding my head up and throwing on an Auburn sweatshirt after Saturday’s loss, go for it. I love this team, and you can’t take dancing in Jordan-Hare or rolling Toomer’s away from me.
It’s been a long season, and I think everyone—myself included—is looking forward to a reprieve before the Peach** Bowl. Having stress-free Saturdays again will be a welcome change. As I write this, Gus Malzahn’s contract has just been extended and he will not be the next coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. After the game on Saturday, I tweeted this, and I meant it:
Auburn would’ve been fine if Gus had gone to Fayettechill, eventually, but I’m glad we’re not starting a coaching search this week.
Mostly though, I know no one really wants to read about football right now. My first selfish thought after the dust settled on Saturday was, “Man, I really don’t want to write about this.”
So I’ll leave you with this: The Peach Bowl seems like an anticlimactic ending for such a successful season. Superstition dictates I blame myself because I drank out of my 2011 Peach Bowl stadium cup yesterday during the game. I’d be lying if I said trepidation about that particular cup didn’t cross my mind before kickoff, but I wore my Ronnie jersey in hopes of combatting it. We all know what happened, and for that I am deeply sorry, guys. I think my 2010 SEC Championship cup got broken. I blame Tuscaloosa. Anyway, Atlanta is a fun town. I wish we were going to a different place, a place we weren’t deeply familiar with and a place where we didn’t just get our butts kicked, but we’re not. We don’t have to talk about it today, but we can have a good time there.
Enjoy the break, Tiger fans. We’ve dealt with more over the last four weeks than most teams deal with in an entire season. I’ll see you back here bright and early at the end of December, and we’ll panic about UCF’s offense together.
It’s still great to be an Auburn Tiger, even when it isn’t a whole lot of fun.
Until next time—War Eagle!
*I know it’s beaten. But you know I like to sound folksy.
**In protest of their tone-deaf and tasteless decision to discontinue the spicy chicken biscuit AND their decision to make their breakfast burritos lame and flavorless, I will not be mentioning the name of our bowl’s corporate sponsor.