football Edit

BMatt’s Monday musings

Jack Driscoll and Gus Malzahn celebrate the game-winning play.
Jack Driscoll and Gus Malzahn celebrate the game-winning play. (Robin Conn/AuburnSports.com)

AUBURN | I have plenty of questions following Auburn’s 27-21 comeback win over Oregon Saturday night, but I also know one thing with absolute certainty.

That win meant a great deal to Auburn’s coaches and players.

You could see it on their faces as they walked into AT&T Stadium for the first time and you could see their joy on the field and hear it in the locker room afterwards, which just happened to be right next to the interview room.

Why did a non-conference game carry such weight for this team?

I think there are several important reasons starting with everything that they’ve been through the past year including a rough and tumble 2018 season, all the rumblings surrounding Gus Malzahn’s job security and more than anything, the desire to bring the Tigers’ football program back to the level of competing for SEC and national championships.

That’s why so many of Auburn’s best players passed on last year’s NFL Draft to return to school for one more year and one more go at ascending the college football mountaintop. They’ve provided a lot of leadership in the offseason and they played their tails off for Auburn and their teammates Saturday night.

When I look at this coaching staff, I see a great mix of veterans and young guys, and I see a lot of hunger to prove the doubters wrong, to show the coaching world that they can mold Auburn into a championship team.

This is just one win. There are many hard tests to follow and much improvement needed to meet those challenges. But on a balmy night in Dallas, in a veritable grand palace of American football, Auburn stood tall and took a big first step to achieving its goals.

***

Let’s face it, sportswriters get a lot of things wrong when it comes to preseason predictions. Heck, I thought special teams would be a huge Auburn advantage. But I think a lot of us got it right when it comes to Bo Nix. We expected the true freshman to make his share of mistakes in Auburn’s opener, but we also expected him to handle the pressure, bounce back from those mistakes and make some plays against a good defense.

Nix did that and much more.

He led the Tigers back from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter, the largest comeback since Auburn rallied from 24 down at Alabama in the 2010 Iron Bowl.

Nix, in his first-ever college game, delivered a magical finish, led the Tigers to a top 25 win and perhaps gave Auburn fans a first glimpse at something special to look forward to in the coming weeks, months and years.

The Bo Nix era began at Auburn with a big boom Saturday night in heart of Texas.

***

Ole Miss had just 173 yards of total offense in a 15-10 loss at Memphis, Tennessee lost 38-30 at home to a Georgia State team that started its program in 2010 and was coming off a 2-10 season, and Missouri allowed 297 rushing yards in a 37-31 loss to Wyoming.

It was not a good start for the SEC.

On top of that, South Carolina lost to a North Carolina team coming off a 2-9 season with first-year head coach, Arkansas had a scare against Portland State, holding on for a 20-13 win, and Mississippi State gave up 430 total yards in a 38-28 win over Louisiana.

I’ll say it again, it was not a good start for the SEC.

Yes, the conference still has two powerhouses at the top in Alabama and Georgia, several others like LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M and maybe Florida trying to knock them off, but the bottom half of this league looked pitiful the opening week.

One of the reasons the SEC has been such a strong conference over the past couple of decades is that even teams in the bottom half of the league could line up and consistently beat teams in the middle third or bottom half of the other Power 5 conferences.

I'm not sure that's going to be the case this season.

***

Today’s musical journey takes us back 73 years to Sept. 1, 1946 and the birth of one of the most successful songwriters of all time and a founder of one the most successful groups in music history.

Barry Gibb, who turned 73 Sunday, co-founded the Bee Gees with his twin brothers, Robin and Maurice Gibb, in 1958. The trio went on to sell over 220 million records worldwide, putting them in the top 40 of the best-selling artists of all time. Barry Gibb was the primary writer of the group and is tied with John Lennon and Paul McCartney for the most No. 1 hits composed with six including Shadow Dancing for his younger brother, Andy Gibb, and If I Can’t Have You by Yvonne Elliman.

The Bee Gees didn’t start singing in their signature falsetto until the mid-1970’s. You Should Be Dancing, which hit No. 1 43 years ago on Sept. 4, 1976, was their first No. 1 singing in falsetto and is credited for helping to launch the disco era. Saturday Night Fever, released in 1977, remains the best-selling soundtrack of all time and includes No. 1 hits Night Fever and How Deep Is Your Love.