In a few hours, Auburn will take the field for the final time before the bowl season begins, and it’s the biggest game of the year. It’s like this every year, with the boss battle at the end of the road coming against Alabama.
It’s been that way over the past decade (God, has it been that long) with Saban turning the Tide into an army of steroid monsters fused with international harvesters. Auburn’s had the toughest schedule in the country each year, every year, simply because they’ve had to go through Alabama to get anywhere.
This season, “anywhere” means the difference between the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day and the Texas Bowl on December 27th. There’s not a whole lot for Auburn to play for, except for the fun of ruining things for others.
If Auburn somehow (SOMEHOW) wins this game, it may end up affecting nothing if Alabama still beats Georgia next week in the SEC Championship Game. Then they’d probably still go to the Playoff and still come very close to winning another national championship. In the end, “losing to Auburn doesn’t matter anymore”. But it does. It always does.
Much has been said of Gus Malzahn this year. He’s not the same. He’s calling all the bad plays. He’s meddling. He sucks. Some or all of these things may be true, but Gus has a core that just needs to be cleaned off to access it. We need to go down into the basement and hit the breakers on Gus, because he’s frustrated Nick Saban like nobody else has.
2009 — The Tigers go up 14-0 and come within a hair of beating the eventual national champions.
2010 — Gus’ Cam Newton-led offense erases a 24-point deficit and embarrasses Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
2013 — The Kick Six. Auburn runs for 300 yards anyway and pop-passes Saban into a conniption fit.
2014 — Even in a loss, Auburn hits 600 yards of offense, 44 points, and gives it away with terrible defense.
2017 — Auburn dominates Alabama in one of the most hostile environments I’ve ever seen as the Tide bumbles around for a loss.
Gus knows what he’s doing in this game. If Auburn just gets flat-out blown away, I’ll be shocked.
We know about Tua, and the receivers, and the offensive line, and the defense, and about 40 five-stars. However, we’ve hung with this team as well as anyone in the country over the past few years. We can do it again. We can keep it close. We can make this frustrating.
I picked Alabama to win in our staff picks yesterday, but there will always be a large part of me that believes and will rationalize a victory for Auburn all the way through until proven otherwise. I’m coming around on it again today too. Let’s go get the Tide. War Eagle.