ESPN must be wondering what they were thinking at the start of the year. They coaxed Auburn and WVU to move their game from the second week of the season to a mid-October Thursday night. They figured Auburn to be 7-0 or 6-1 and WVU to be 6-0.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Morgantown. WVU dropped two of its first three games and is now 4-2. Auburn has dropped three of its last four and comes in 4-3. Two teams struggling for respect. Two teams struggling for an identity. Two teams who shouldn’t be struggling at all.
This is the first match-up between Auburn and West Virginia. (I can’t find any evidence that Auburn and WVU have ever played before. I know it’s our fist trip to Morgantown, but I thought there might be a neutral site or a previous game under a different name scenario. Nothing. ) Auburn hasn’t sparred much with the current teams in the Big East. We’re 1-1-1 against Syracuse, with each game providing a lasting memory. There was the infamous tie in the Sugar Bowl when Auburn ruined Syracuse’s chance at an undefeated season. There was game at Syracuse where we were the first major sporting event in the state of NY after 9-11…and we were blown out. Then there was the three OT classic in the following year. As for other teams in the Big East, we’re 1-0 against both Louisville and Rutgers, 2-0 against Cincinnati, and 0-1 vs. South Florida. None of that matters in Thursday night’s game.
What does matter then?
It matters that Kodi Burns will be starting the game and hopes to remain that way. In the Arkansas game, Kodi drove us down the field twice in the 4th quarter, only to have us stub our toe, heel, or anything else we decided to throw in the ground. It looks like Chris Todd has dropped to third on the depth chart, behind Neil Caudle. It’s been speculated that Barrett Trotter might have his redshirt ripped off for the remaining five games of this season. (Note to Auburn coaches: Please don’t. Was it worth losing a season of Ben Tate for four games?) It will drive Auburn fans crazy to watch that, on the other side of the field, is a QB from Daphne, Alabama, someone that was mentioned as a potential Heisman candidate and who would have been perfect for what we tried to do this year. (Take a bow, Pat. You’re incredible to watch.)
It matters that we don’t give down on ourselves. A good friend of mine (and reader of this blog), Wes Edwards, was watching PBS recently and saw a show about a physicist that championed alternate universes. Wes commented in a note to me: “Perhaps we would have been 4-3 even without the Franklin experiment. Perhaps, in another reality, we are 7-0.” To that, I would add the following: Perhaps, in another reality, we are also 2-5.
We can’t change the past, only the perception of the future. The current perception is for Auburn to go 6-6, with wins over UT-Martin and Ole Miss. Changing that perception starts NOW!