Monday, October 30, 2006

23-17, not that there's anything wrong with that

So, pardon me while pass on the freak-out over Auburn’s “closer-than-expected,” “less-than-impressive,” “crappy” 23-17 win over Ole Miss. I tried to care about anything besides the fact that Auburn won, and I can’t.

Why not? Well, which of the following things would have occurred if Auburn had beaten Ole Miss by a score of, say, 56-3?

A) Arkansas, overwhelmingly impressed by a team that could rout Ole Miss, agrees that Auburn is the One True and Deserving SEC West champion and agrees to forfeit their remaining SEC games in order to give Auburn safe passage to Atlanta.

B) The pollsters awaken from their multiple-year coma and agree that badly beating an SEC also-ran is worthy cause of jumping Auburn ahead of a Texas team they’ve already asked their children to name their first grandkid after.

C) The rout sets in motion chaos theory’s “butterfly effect,” resulting in a hopelessly complicated and convoluted chain-of-events that leads to Louisville and West Virginia both losing games before the season is out. All losses come in the middle of butterfly-caused storms, natch.

D) Georgia and Alabama, hopelessly intimidated by Auburn’s Ole Miss whipping, secretly agree to let Auburn win by 20 against them and give them their lunch money if the Tigers will “just take it easy” on them and keep their books out of the toilets in the senior wing bathroom.

E) None of the above.

The answer—I’m sure you’ve figured it out, you’re smart people—is E. Beating Ole Miss 56-3 would have accomplished precisely nothing more for Auburn than beating them 23-17 did, except for possibly getting Tim Brando to award us some of his precious “style points.” Huge loss there, I tell you.

Besides, Auburn played a little better than people are giving it credit for. Obviously, they’ve got to do a better job in the red zone—23 points after six trips inside the 20 isn’t going to work against the Dawgs or ‘Bama. And giving up even 17 points to an offense as two-left-footed as the Rebels’ isn’t a cause for celebration, either.

But Auburn did outgain Ole Miss 428 to 256. Seven of Auburn’s nine drives penetrated the Ole Miss 35. Cox looked as good as he has against an SEC opponent all season. Auburn ran 30 more plays than the Rebels. Vaughn continued to not choke. And the defense, God bless ‘em, did at least force the punt they absolutely had to in the fourth quarter.

In short, it was the prototypical performance of a team—and a defense, specifically—that knows it has bigger games left this season and is doing just enough to win, and remains more than capable of turning up the intensity two weeks from now.

We can also face facts here, can’t we? This team isn’t the 2004 juggernaut. It’s not going to beat teams by 20 points on the road just by rolling out of bed. The sooner we accept that the sooner we can appreciate wins like the one over Ole Miss for what they are--another W in the lefthand column for a fairly gutty team that isn’t perfect but is still on track for a season only the top 1% of irrationally demanding Auburn fans won’t be happy with.

Well, those guys and Tim Brando.


Anonymous said...

Great post.

The Auburn games are much more enjoyable since I realized that, regarding the SEC Championship, a three point win is the same as a thirty point win.

2004 was, without a doubt, a great year for Auburn football. Unfortunately, it also made quite a few fans so worried about style points that they forgot how to enjoy a win (myself included).

Auburn entered the OM game concerned mainly with two things: Stop the power run and contain a mobile quarterback. The defense did both. Hats off to OM's OC for spotting and exploiting some weaknesses.

In the end, it wasn't enough.

Jason said...

I think Auburn fans need to take a step back realize where this program has come.

We don't appreciate the fact the team wins, we are too busy complaining about the manner in which they win. Old school Auburn (and SEC) fans can appreciate any road victory within the division.

It's hard to believe that this team has an excellent chance to go 11-1 and, in doing so, beat Alabama for the 5th straight year. However when it's all said and done, we won't talk about great this team is - we will talk about the Arkansas loss.

It wasn't that long ago that 7 or 8 wins would have been absolutely fabulous - nowadays that would be a disappointment (see UGA 2006).

Keep the good work!

Jerry Hinnen said...

Thanks, fellas.

I take some solace in the fact that it's not just Auburn fans who claim the sky is falling every time their team odesn't win as impressivley as hoped. 'Bama fans basically invented the art and Lord knows UF, UGA, UT, and LSU fans (particularly the latter ... booing Nick Saban has to be the low point of the trend) have had their fair share of being unable to enjoy prosperity.

But it still doesn't mean it's the best way of going about things.

Anonymous said...

LSU fans booing Saban the year after winning the National Championship is, without a doubt, the best example. Playing Troy is tough, but geez...

Great site. Play-by-play breakdown post was outstanding. It pretty much was spot-on for the way fans feel during an Auburn game (even/especially during a win).