Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Auburn vs. Tennessee: That Tennessee Feeling

I remember watching the AU-Tennessee game in the fall of 1989. It was September. We often played Tennessee early in the season and the announcers pointed out prior to kickoff that the loser of the AU-Tennessee game had never won the SEC and probably never would.

We lost to UT that year. Alabama beat UT. We beat Alabama. All three teams finished with identical records and were declared SEC Champions. It’s the only time back then where we lost to Tennessee and still had a Championship, even if it was a tie.

And that’s where we are right now.

LSU has become to us what Tennessee used to be. If we’d beaten LSU last year, we’d have played Tennessee for the Championship. And losing to LSU, when it happens this early, puts a damper on our season early on.

And then we have Tennessee.

Tennessee is another long-time Auburn nemesis. The schools have played each other 49 times and Auburn leads the series 25-21-3. Amazing is the points scored. Auburn has scored 830 points in the series. Tennessee has picked up 831. (Damn that last TD Peyton Manning threw in 1997 Championship game!) The first game was in 1900. Auburn won 23-0, so scaring Tennessee that they didn’t play us again until the stock market crashed in 1929.

Beginning in 1956, Auburn and Tennessee began playing each other every season, something that continued until 1991. With the exception of 1968, it was always in September. Auburn has won the last three contests. The last game was the 2004 SEC Championship. We played Tennessee twice that year, also winning in Knoxville 34-10.

The game I’d like to draw attention to is the one from the 2003 season. Auburn came into that game 2-2, having opened the season with losses to Southern Cal and Georgia Tech. Tennessee came in to the game 4-0 and ranked seventh in the nation. The final score was Auburn 28, Tennessee 21. However, that score was the result of two garbage TDs by Tennessee in the 4th quarter. This year, UT comes into this game with a record of 1-2 with losses to UCLA (how did they blow that one) and Florida.

And so my concern. We lost to LSU last week. Florida embarrassed Tennessee. Both schools are going to come out mad. However, like us in 2003, Tennessee comes in to the game feeling like they have nothing to lose. Should we be able to beat Tennessee? Yes! Is it going to be tough? Yes!

Injury-wise, we seem to be fine. It looks like Brad Lester may be back. Good for us if he is. I hope Kodi Burns gets in to the game. He adds a necessary dimension to our offense. Don’t understand why the coaches are hesitant, when they used such with Cox last year.

Lastly, I hope Durst is fully healed from the flu. As I watched Shoemaker punt poorly, I spent time wondering what happened to Durst. We lost 20 yards of field position in the LSU game when he went down with the flu. That could have been the difference.

War Damn Eagle!

P.S. A question for later that needs to be addressed…has our real problem since 2004 been the lack of playmaker receivers. We used to Obamanu, Aromashodu, & Mix. We’ve yet to have similar playmakers since.

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