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December 2, 2013

Fun and Stun


"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." --Harriet Beecher Stowe

AUBURN | The gladiatorial, larger-than-life nature of college football naturally lends itself to grand, heroic language and the 78th meeting between Auburn and Alabama was nothing if not epic.

Honestly, though, that kind of talk gets old after a while and I just about ran through my annual allotment of highfalutin' O.B. Keeler prose after the Georgia game.

So let's talk about fun instead.

After endless months of yammering as the alleged Greatest Defense Ever posted gaudy statistics against a tissue-soft schedule, just how much fun was it to see an also-alleged gimmick, high-school offense gash Alabama for 296 on the ground? When Nick Marshall ran right past the best player on the Tide defense for his opening 45-yard score, I'm guessing C.J. Mosley didn't think he was playing a high school team. Mosley and his teammates obviously couldn't figure out which gimmick was causing Tre Mason to trample them on the way to his 164 rushing yards.

And, say, isn't it an article of faith that Alabama coach Nick "I'm Not Going To Be The Alabama Coach" Saban's defense is "disciplined" and "well-schooled" and other such things? Funny, they sure didn't look disciplined while leaving Sammie Coates all by himself on the game-tying read pass with 32 seconds left -- to say nothing of two wide-slam-open-for-touchdowns receivers that Marshall just missed earlier in the game.

But if it's any consolation, the guy who supposedly "won't be able to throw on Alabama" did nail that perfect dart to C.J. Uzomah between two "superior" defenders for a score. For all the talk (and talk, and talk, and talk, and talk) about the Mighty Bama Defense getting ready to Impose Its Will on little old Auburn and its gimmick, high-school offense, the only times the Tigers were really stopped Saturday night was when they stopped themselves by playing Bama's game instead of their own. It's no wonder the Little Man hates Gus Malzahn's Hurry-Up, No-Huddle offense so much: When the HUNH gets up to full Ludicrous Speed, it turns his meticulously prepared game plans into so much wasted time.

Speaking of time: Say, little Nicky, do you have a second?

I just wanted to check, because, y'know, you did get the one you wanted after what everybody else thought was the end of regulation. You wanted it badly enough to throw one of your patented temper tantrums on the sideline. And what the heck, referee Matt Austin (hey, great name, right?) was impressed enough with your Grumpy Smurf imitation to actually put that sucker back up on the scoreboard and get yourself one last play.

How'd that work out for ya, wee man?

Saban, who now has been soundly out-coached by Malzahn three times, made a lot of dumb calls Saturday night. The shrimp's reputation for meticulous preparation is well-earned, but he really isn't much of a game-day coach. Going for it late within range of a field goal that would have put the game away? Dumb. That was nothing but ego and bad judgment. Auburn freshman Carl Lawson simply buried T.J. "Put This Behind Me" Yeldon in the backfield, snuffing out the Tide's last serious scoring opportunity.

You talk about fun--fun was seeing Saban beg for that one second, then throw a freshman out on the field for a stupid-long kick attempt and not bothering to put anybody in capable of covering a return. You'd almost think the "football genius" forgot the rules.

Fun was watching Gus Malzahn and Chris Davis make him pay, with a play that earned immortality as Austin s-l-o-w-l-y raised his hands to hammer the game-winner into the lore of college football.

Fun was watching the Dumbest Fanbase In America realize what had just happened to them. Fun was the realization that Auburn did not and was not going to imitate a lower-tier opponent and roll over, no matter how much blather about "imposing their will" from Bama fans and the in-state media (please, forgive the redundancy) was shoveled out during the previous 11 games.

Fun was recognizing that said Dumbest Fanbase In America will have that play seared into their nightmares, replaying endlessly for the rest of their lives (and trust me on this one; I was in the stands in 1985). From now on, every time they see the name "Chris Davis" or "Kick Bama Kick," it'll be another punch in the gut.

Fun is stamping your ticket to the Georgia Dome for a shot at the SEC title, and maybe, just maybe, to earn your way to the last crystal football of the BCS era.

Fun is Auburn football and waking up on Sunday morning to see that the sun is shining, the birds are singing, God is in His heaven, and all is right with the world once again.

War Eagle, Amen.

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