I'm late posting today. I'm just dead tired.
Three down. One to go.
In defeating South Carolina in what was the most lopsided game in SEC Championship history, we finished off our “third” championship in three straight games. The victory over Georgia made us SEC Western Division champions. The victory over Alabama gave us the mythical championship within the state of Alabama (as well as undefeated regular season which no pundit predicted would happen this year). Our second win over USC gave us the SEC Championship.
And now one game remains.
For so many years, things have gone wrong to deny us a shot at the national title. Pat Dye got close four times, but never got over the hump. The two years that stand out the most are ’83 and ’87. In ’83, Auburn faced what is probably the most difficult schedule in its history and went 11-1 with a Sugar Bowl victory over Michigan. However, Miami, a team who’d faced a far weaker schedule than Auburn and was ranked below Auburn, got a shot at that year’s giant, Nebraska. They played them in what was a home game in the Orange Bowl, beat them 31-30, and leapt over Auburn into the championship slot.
In ’87, we lost at LSU 7-6 in the earthquake game. We’d been in the RZ twice in the first half, but could only muster field goals. Late in the 4th quarter, it came back to bite us. And there have been others, I don’t have to recite them. We all know them.
Now we have our shot.
I am putting the cart before the proverbial horse. The announcement hasn’t been made. That will occur tonight. But with four straight national champions coming out of the SEC, only the most monumental of lobbying and turnarounds could keep Auburn out of Glendale this year.
And there are those who still say we should be disqualified. They cite the Cam Newton scandal as an aberration that will taint things if Auburn wins. The Big 10 and the Big 12 have been lobbying hard against Auburn. Let’s recognize that for what it is. In the Big 10’s case, it’s the realization that if Auburn is taken out of the equation, then a 1-loss Big 10 team might prevail over an undefeated TCU team. For the Big 12, it’s about trying to stay relevant when your conference is falling apart.
As for this game, I admit I was a little nervous. South Carolina has exorcised a lot of demons this season. They wanted to exorcise one more. They were playing well. (I felt less nervous when Lee Corso and Lou Holtz picked the Gamecocks, but that’s to be expected.)
When Auburn started looking to do a repeat of Alabama’s performance in the Iron Bowl, dropping sure TD passes and having plays called back, I got nervous when the score got close at 21-14.
And then Newton and Auburn delivered a 1st half Hail Mary that will live forever in Auburn lore. Such was the dagger in the heart of USC’s momentum. When they missed a FG to open the 2nd half, the game could have been called then.
We will head into the next 37 days with no wanting Auburn to me. The Reggie Bush scandal still fresh with everyone, pundits have hoped for Auburn to get beat somewhere. The pundits celebrated with Georgia’s and Alabama’s early game leads. “No one wants a repeat of Southern Cal,” so they condemn Auburn.
Yes, supposedly the incident about Cecil Newton should have vacated Auburn’s wins. Yet, how do you square it with Auburn having done nothing wrong yet getting punished.
It looks like the NCAA chose absolution over an absolute.
Nobody wants Auburn to beat Oregon except Auburn fans. That’s okay. It’s been that way for many of Auburn’s games this year.
Does it matter?When Southern Cal was stripped of the title this year, the same pundits screaming for Auburn’s head on a plate this year are the ones who said that awarding the 2004 title to Auburn shouldn’t be done. They say that Southern Cal was still the best team and Auburn wouldn’t have beaten them anyway.
Win the game, Auburn. Win the game in Glendale. Beat the Ducks.
And nothing else will matter.