Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Shula, roundball, etc.

OK, so no Iron Bowl recap today. Apologies. Thought I had today off, but the Man informed me otherwise Monday. His fault, so no water balloons.

Instead, the usual random responses:

1. Shula stays, Shula goes, whichever. Still believe giving the guy who took the job no one else wanted one more year—sans Rader—is the gentlemanly thing to do and would pay off big-time karma-wise for the Tide. But Shula’s “OK, this week we’re turning the corner” demeanor and non-aggressiveness (regressiveness?) sure don’t look like the stuff of SEC titles. I’d hardly blame Mal for cutting bait now given that we know Shula’s simply never going to be a great coach, the only kind that will make Bama fans happy. Speaking of which—I’m probably not the first person to ask this, but what kind of name is Mal? Is it short for Malbert? Malfred?

2. If they’re so inclined, Bama fans can console themselves in that their roundball team is a Final Four candidate. Watched most of their win over Xavier (themselves a top-25 team) Monday night on Fox Sports-Virgin Islands and can tell you that 1) Ron Steele is still a stud 2) everyone else on the team is a freak, this new guy Riley included, unfortunately. It’s a damn dangerous combination. LSU’s got the hype, but they don’t have a point guard, as to this point Tack Minor has shown as much passing ability as I have ability to post consistently. If Steele stays healthy and Gottfried can get Davidson to stop bricking 10-foot jumpers (he missed half-dozen during that game), they’ll win the SEC West.

3. Oh wait, the sidebar says this is an Auburn football and mid-major hoops blog, doesn’t it? Well, not much going on with the former, unless you count twiddling thumbs until the team finds out if it’s going to Dallas or Tampa. (My thoughts? I think Penn St. in the Outback would be an easy mark, but beating JoePa’s bunch in 2002 didn’t do much for us the next year, did it?) And I’ve got plenty of hoops thoughts—most of them along the lines of “Goodness gracious do I hate, hate, hate Jay Bilas”—but got to get the Iron Bowl recap out of the way first.

4. While we’re on the subject of basketball, though, I will point out that it’s hard to get excited about Auburn basketball when they do things like lose to AUM. I know it was an exhibition. But it was AUM’s basketball team playing Auburn’s basketball team, they had officials and a regulation-sized court and everything, they played for 40 minutes, and in those 40 minutes AUM scored more points than Auburn. This is not a good sign for the Jeff Lebo Project.

Iron Bowl recap up in the next couple of days, I hope. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

10 more Amen Corner thoughts

With where I stand on the 2006 regular season already posted, here's 10 other quickie thoughts on the 2006 Amen Corner:

1. Here’s to hoping Neil Caudle is worth a damn (or Blake Field undergoes a Campbell-like transformation), because we’ve got to get Brandon Cox more rest next season. The mega-clutch guy who we saw against Georgia and ‘Bama last season wasn’t even a blood relative of the guy we saw play quarterback against them this year, much less the same person. Some of that blame goes on the offensive line and Nall and Borges’s failure to get it fixed—you’d be skittish too if you’d been sacked at the David Carr-esque rate Cox was this year—but you’re not going to get much going offensively with that kind of play from your quarterback.

2. That said, Auburn needed just one play from their QB to win last Saturday, and on the road, against a solid defense, without his favorite receiver, Cox made it. I’m glad we’ve got him for one more, hopefully injury-free season.

3. As mentioned previously, the Georgia loss was, without question, the worst loss of the Borges era. Make no mistake--you could call Georgia a “dangerous,” “due,” or maybe even “talented” team, but they were not what you would call a “good” football team. Good teams don’t lose to Vandy and Kentucky, scrape past Colorado and Miss. St. at home, and get soundly beaten by Florida and Tennessee. You could perhaps even argue the loss was Tubby’s worst since his inaugural season—since then no team to win at Jordan-Hare has finished with more than five losses, a total the Dawgs would equal with a loss to Tech and surpass with a bowl loss. (Note that I wouldn’t argue this with the 31-7 drubbing at Bama’s hands in 2001 out there. But you could.)

4. Glad to see Kenny Irons score a TD, go over 80 yards, and average better than 4 yards a pop in his last Iron Bowl. Given healthy limbs, a better commitment to the running game, and an o-line that warranted that commitment, he would have done some amazing things this season. See you on Sundays, Kenny.

5. Whatever Tubby’s doing to prepare his teams for 11:30 kickoffs, he needs to stop doing.

6. I used to get my hackles raised by people calling Ohio St.-Michigan or Florida St.-Miami or anything besides Army-Navy the game’s best rivalry over the Iron Bowl, but not anymore. If you want to define “best” as “intensity plus national profile,” OK, whatever, pick something else, I don’t care. But the Iron Bowl is the most intense, bitter rivalry in the country, period. In all of American sports, UNC-Duke in college hoops or Sox-Yankees in MLB are the only possible candidates to equal Auburn-Alabama. No other game in college football means so incredibly much to so many people year-in year-out, No. 1 vs. No. 2 games be damned. You either understand that or you don’t.

7. I’ve gone back and forth on this, but if I’m Mal Moore I tell Shula that if he overhauls his staff, he gets another year. Shula’s willingness to accept the rancid, stinking pile of refuse that was the job in 2003 means common decency dictates he gets one “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Of course, when you’re talking about a fan base that’s willing to publicly blame a 20-year-old right tackle for “ruining my life” and starting a poll on whether he’s the worst lineman in the history of college football (94% say “Yes”), decency doesn’t necessarily play a big role, I suppose. (Note that the fan in question is not the author behind the site, please.)

8. I don’t blame UGa fans for crowing about the win, but just as I would have gladly swapped seasons with the Dawgs in ’99 (when Ben Leard threw for approximately 763 yards and nine touchdowns in the first half of 4-5 Auburn’s takedown of 6-2 Georgia) so I’d rather have our 10-2 than their 7-4. Could that fact have been lost on Journorock, who I have a great deal of respect for (we work in the same profession and I enjoy his posts) but who violated the Don’t Celebrate Other Teams’ Accomplishments karmic dictum and saw it turn out badly in the end. Not that I have room to talk after my oh-so-casual dismissal of Georgia followed by a lengthy discussion of Auburn’s national title hopes, mind you. Stupid, stupid, stupid. At least Journorock got some traffic out of it.

9. That said, the Iron Bowl was decided as soon as Corso and Herbstreit agreed that Alabama would win the game. “Good pick!” Corso told his colleague. Yes, taking the 6-5 team whose best win came at home over Hawaii over the 9-2 team who had beaten LSU and Florida … an excellent choice.

10. OK, so this isn’t really an Amen Corner thought, but I have to post the site news somewhere. For whom, I’m not sure, since I’m pretty sure 90 percent of the JCCW’s readership (i.e. nine of my ten readers) bailed the week before the UGa game and the remaining 10 percent surely did when the site went postless Iron Bowl week. If there are any stragglers, let me apologize—Sorry, know it’s not fun to check a site you like and see nothing new—then make excuses: my souvenir from my Chicago trip was a raging head cold that turned my routine this week into work-sleep-wake-up-work-sleep. I’ll try to make it up to you with a recap of the ‘Bama game. Coming Wednesday, or I’ll post my address and you can wait outside my door with water balloons.

AU 2006: Happy to be sad

I’ve never been so delighted at feeling disappointed.

Let me make it clear: I’m not delighted at Auburn’s 2006 season, or the end to said season. The unquestionable worst loss of the past three seasons, followed by a victory that proved little else beyond the frightfully, laughably mediocre depths to which the team we just beat for a fifth consecutive year sank this season? No, I’m not doing cartwheels, or a jig, or the Hustle, any other celebratory shimmy over how Auburn closed things out this year. I doubt any but the absolute most cheerful and sunshiny of Auburn fans are, barring those few wonderful souls that hate the Tide with a fury that borders on psychosis and really would be happy after an 0-11 turned 1-11 season.

But here’s the thing: What does it say about what Tubby and Gorgeous Al have accomplished at Auburn that a 10-2 season is considered a disappointment? That winning every game save for (1) an ambush from what later turned out to be one of the SEC’s best teams and (2) the overdue return to form of a proud and talented team and coach isn’t enough?

What it says is that Auburn has arrived. Over the course of our program’s history, it hasn’t typically been Tiger fans who have been disappointed with 10-2 seasons—it’s been Gator fans in the Spurrier years, or Seminole fans in the mid-to-late ‘90s, Nebraska fans, Miami fans, Ohio St. fans, or if you want to go back a bit, of course, fans of the team Auburn just beat for the fifth consecutive year.

The usual Auburn response to that “go back a bit” bit is to say “Oh, but Tide fans still aren’t happy with 10-2 seasons, they still expect the national title every year, ran Bill Curry off, never got over the Bear, etc.” No question there’s some truth to that, but the colder truth for Alabama fans is this: by and large they were jubilant about going 10-2 last year, even when one of those two was (Honk Honk!) a complete immolation at the hands of their most bitter rival. The Auburner essentially pointed this out midweek, but all you need to know about where Auburn and Alabama currently stand in relation to each other is to look at how these two 10-2 years have been perceived. However Alabama votes, it’s an Orange-and-Blue state now, and shows no signs of changing anytime soon.

And that is more than enough to get delighted about. Our team is so damn good these days, we have a right to be upset about winning 10 out of 12 games, including (I don’t recollect if I mentioned this) the fifth in a row over the Tide. War Damn Eagle.

I don’t want to imply that Auburn fans should be happier with the 2006 effort in itself. I consider myself a pretty doggone rational fan as fans go, and after the UGa game, No, I’m not all that happy even with the Iron Bowl win. The team failed to improve as the year progressed, playing two of its best three games of the season in Weeks 1 and 3 and the other in Week 7. Both losses came at home, the second to a reeling rival with a freshman QB that had previously lost to both Vandy and Kentucky. Most depressing of all is the sense of lost opportunity—this was the kind of schedule, the kind of SEC, and the kind of national disarray that could have erased the sting of 2004 if Auburn had simply played up to their level of talent, maybe even if they’d just done so against the Hogs. I can be a very, very happy fan without a national title. But I cannot be happy at all when a team with as much talent as this one has gets embarrassed the way it did two Saturdays ago and follows up with a win—-however sweet—-that, let's be honest, had as much to do with the opponent’s incompetence than Auburn’s resolve. The bottom line is that we all hoped 2004 meant Tubby had learned his lesson after 2003 and that the Capital One Bowl fiasco was an aberration. Nope. Same old Tubbs.

Which, of course, for the reasons described above, I will gladly take over the alternative. I do feel like I ought to give Tubby more slack for his occasional egg-layings, seeing as how I expected two before the season even began. (Though I hoped one would wait until bowl season.) We know he’s not going to have a championship season when his team is the favorite to win said championship, and we should probably quit forgetting that just because Auburn gets past LSU. In that sense, maybe Tiger fans really should be happier about having gone 10-2.

But that’s not us anymore. We’re not Alabama. We’re Auburn, and 10-2 isn’t always going to be good enough. Honestly, why would we want it any other way?

Friday, November 10, 2006

good news / bad news / picks

There’s bad news and good news this week for Auburn. Because I like happy endings, we’re going with bad news first.

Bad news: If you saw Arkansas’s win over South Carolina, and you’re aware that while the ‘Cocks gained more yards than both Auburn and Tennessee in those games but gave up 495 yards to the Hogs and fell 150 total yards short of them you know that just as much chance of Rutgers Wake Forest Duke playing for the national championship as Auburn has of playing for the SEC title. It’s conceivable that LSU or the Vols could rise up and steal one of the Hogs’ remaining games, but both? At home? There’s simply no chance whatsoever.

Good news: Auburn’s chances of landing in a different BCS bowl game are just as good not playing in the SEC championship game as they are playing in it. Beat Georgia, beat Bama, and that’s an 11-1 season. An SEC title sure would be sweet, but a megabucks Orange Bowl tilt with, say, Georgia Tech? I for one am not going to complain about that.

Bad news: Georgia’s and Bama’s losses last week to Kentucky and Miss. St. mean that if Auburn wins out, it won’t make much of an argument with pollsters or the computers.

Good news: Georgia and Bama lost last week to Kentucky and Miss. St.! Tee hee hee! I’m usually not that into the whole schadenfreude thing, but as long as Auburn comes through against them, it’s worth it for the laughs. Kentucky! Miss. St! They lost to Rich “I died six years ago and must coach my team to a bowl game to undo the Mumme’s Curse” Brooks and Sylvester “Yes, I have a playbook, I stick it under one my office desk legs to keep it even” Croom! Friggin’ unbelievable, man.

Bad news: Despite the Big East going down in scarlet flames, Auburn still has virtually no shot at the BCS title game. It’s not that tough to see Arkansas losing to LSU and then beating Florida, making Auburn the top SEC team. It would, at that point, probably come down to picking a one-loss team out of Texas, Auburn, and the Pac-10 champ, which looks very, very likely to be Cal. As Auburn would be the only one of the three without a conference championship, who outside of SEC diehards would make an argument for them?

Good news: Because, screw it, it’s fun to speculate, and if we lose to the teams that lost to Kentucky and Miss. St. I’ll be embarrassed enough already, we should point out that there is still a reasonable scenario that gets Auburn to Glendale without the SEC title. As mentioned before, Arkansas loses to LSU but beats Florida. Texas falls to either A&M or to Nebraska in the Big 12 title game—the second one seems much more likely, since the Big 12 title game’s only twin purposes since its inception have been to ruin a team’s national title hopes or embarrass Colorado. The Buffs won’t be there, so it could be a “national title hopes ruined” kind of year. Then, USC beats Cal but loses to either Oregon or Notre Dame. This strikes me as least likely—unless you’re the sort of person who has a peculiar and unyielding sexual fetish for the colors of garnet-and-gold, Cal is pretty clearly head and shoulders above the Trojans at this point. But if Oregon can knock off USC this week—and really, who would be surprised?—the Trojans might have just enough pride to turn it around against Cal the following week.

That’s a lot that has to fall into place, but none of those results, individually, are that much more unlikely than what happened last night, are they?

Bad news: God, I just wrote a “For Auburn to make the national title game…” scenario paragraph. As if the “home team in the Auburn-Georgia game” and “Cheerleader of the Week” jinxes weren’t enough already.

Good news: The “We’re quarterbacked by Matthew Stafford, our receivers can’t catch the ball, and our defense hasn’t stopped anyone” jinx should also be in full effect.

Bad news: The JCCW does not have GamePlan and will not be watching Auburn-Georgia at home, so no quarter-by-quarter recap until the ‘Bama game.

Good news: The JCCW will be in Chicago for the Decemberists concert this weekend and will be watching the game at Joe’s sports bar instead. On the tiny, miniscule, infinitesimal chance that you’re reading this Friday night/Saturday morning and will also be at Joe’s tomorrow, say hello. I’ll be the guy in the Auburn cap and Auburn shirt with the Auburn fans. Not that that helps you.


Quickly: Houston (-3) over SMU; South Carolina (+13) over Florida; Wake Forest (+8 1/2) over Florida St.; Oregon (+8 1/2) over USC; Arkansas (-6) over Tennessee; Michigan St. (+1 1/2) over Minnesota.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Picks (for entertianement value only)

Remember that poster from your ninth-grade science teacher’s classroom wall, the one with the frog already inside a stork’s mouth, but the frog has his, uh, hands around the stork’s throat? So the stork can’t swallow? And underneath the picture it says “Never give up!”?

Yeah, if it wasn’t for that picture, I’d have given up on my picks a while back. 2-4 again last week, 21-24 for the season. I can’t remember the last time I picked an SEC game correctly. But if that that frog can put his hands around that stork’s throat, I can persevere, too.

The picks:

Indiana (+5 ½) over MINNESOTA: Really? The team that beat Iowa and Michigan St. is an underdog to team that hasn’t beaten a soul all season? OK.

VANDERBILT (+17) over Florida: You just KNOW Vandy is going to make this a tight game, then lose by 10 points at the end. That’s what they do.

Kent (-16 ½) over BUFFALO: Probably shouldn’t be picking MAC games, but Buffalo’s only win in 2005 came over Kent, and Kent is about a thousand times better this season. I’m all about the revenge factor this week. Which is why …

LSU (-4 ½) over TENNESSEE: Check out the flag-planting bad blood that’s sprung up between these two. (HT: ATVS.) Nice. Toss in that Ainge is iffy and that LSU is more than due for a good performance against a good team, and you’ve got to take the Tigers here.

BYU (-15 ½) over COLORADO ST.: CSU is coming off a loss to New Mexico. BYU has quietly established itself as the best non-Boise mid-major team out there, season-opening losses to Arizona notwithstanding.

Oklahoma St. (+18) over TEXAS: Hmm…Texas beat Nebraska by two after a unbelievably lucky fumble. Ok. St. beat Nebraska by, well, a hell of a lot more than that. I know, home field was different, the Huskers had a letdown, whatever. Methinks this spread is still far too high.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Creative hijinks! The usual

I haven’t done much in the way of previewing Auburn’s upcoming opponents recently—somehow, the idea of breaking down, say, the Tulane defense’s strengths and weaknesses when lining up in their nickel package didn’t appeal to me—so I thought I’d get creative for today’s post. I’d write “10 Little Known Facts About Arkansas St.” to help get myself and the JCCW’s loyal readers fired up for the Indians. All seven of them could use the firing up, most likely.

So here’s the first two:

1. In 2004, in an effort to avoid the NCAA’s politically-correct wrath but retain their “Indians” moniker, the Arkansas St. administration decided to switch the athletics department’s “brand” from Native American Indian to Asian Sub-continent Indian. The current helmet logo was to be replaced by a simple, elegant red dot, while current mascot "Red" (!) was to be replaced by “Big G,” a jersey-clad version of the Hindu elephant deity Ganesh. The idea was abandoned after ASU brass saw this clip from the Simpsons and NCAA President Myles Brand informed the school that their new take on “Indians” was, if possible, even more offensive than the old one. However, the decision came after the school had already finished printing the first 500 t-shirts bearing their new logo of Mahatma Gandhi snapping a football, a la the old New England Patriot. The shirts are now prized collector’s items.

2. Little known fact: Tommy Tuberville started his coaching career at Arkansas St.! Bet you didn’t know that! Hard to believe! But ... it’s true!

Then I realized that when your team’s goals for said game are

1. Stay healthy
2. Stay healthy
3. Stay healthy
4. Win by any margin wide enough to not be labeled “laughable”
5. Stay healthy

you really shouldn’t be fired up anyway. Plus, I’m pretty sure the list of “Little Known Facts About Arkansas St.” worth reading would have topped out at about three-and-a-half.

So here’s the usual assortment of half-baked opinion and whatnot:

--Because it’s worth noting and re-noting even if you’ve already seen it noted: the Auburn o-line has allowed zero sacks since the “Honk If You Sacked Brandon” first half against Florida. Whatever you want to say about Hugh Nall, Auburn fans (and I know some of you have said some fairly nasty things, especially since 2003), there’s no question that year-in and year-out his lines get better as the season progresses. Always. I have serious, serious doubts AU could find better if they tried.

--So here I was, all ready to play Charitable Rational SEC Fan and talk about how the WVU-Louisville winner deserved to play for the national title if they went undefeated. And then I got a good look at their defenses. Ye gods. When it was over, even fans of the mid-1980s WAC transported through time to watch the game were left shaking their heads, muttering “You call that football? A thousand friggin’ yards of offense?” and making ping-pong comparisons. Charitable and rational an SEC fan as the JCCW would like to be, no team that believes the fastest way to get its offense back onto the field is to let the other team score should play for a national championship. It’s blog policy not to bring up the issue of Auburn vs. Other Teams re: the BCS in mid-season, but in the (still quite, quite unlikely) event an undefeated U of L is chosen ahead of a one-loss SEC champion—a potential navy-and-orange one in particular—come January, yes, the JCCW will be squawking with the best of them.

--Come to Jesus, Kirk Herbstreit. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot be both the “We’re Number 1! We’re Number 1!” face of Ohio St. celebrity fandom in Columbus and a fair and objective analyst on Gameday. Blame the paper all you want, Kirk, but the money quote from the JCCW’s perspective isn’t the “worthless” line, it’s this: “If those two teams were to play right now, just the way they're playing, I don't even think it would be close. Ohio State not only wins that game the way they're playing right now, maybe by a few scores.” Unless the News failed to mention that what followed “scores” was a comma, and then “though, by golly, you have to think Michigan’s going to pick it up, bring their A-game to the ‘Shoe, and give the fans a hell of a time … anything could happen,” well, Kirk is obviously a biased ass. I’m sure we could find any number of message board posts by guys with handles like “BucksNo1FoEva” saying something along the lines of “Uh, have you seen Michigan’s defense? If this game isn’t close I’m wearing maize-and-blue to my wedding.” Only a guy wearing the very thickest in scarlet-and-gray eyewear would think anything different. So when he picks the Buckeyes to win that game, how on earth are viewers supposed to believe his pick is based on anything besides his rooting interests? It’s journalistically indefensible to allow Herbstreit to continue commenting on Ohio St. and Michigan, but I doubt ESPN will do anything, seeing as how they’re totally down with journalistically indefensible these days.

--Phil, take it from Auburn fans, you don’t want to rush Erik Ainge back. No need to risk him in a meaningless game with LSU. You want to make sure he’s good and ready for that pivotal clash you’ve got coming up in Fayetteville. That’s the one that’ll decide your season. We Auburn fans just want what’s best for your team, Phil. Rest Ainge this week. Please. (Please? We’ve got some Chick-Fil-A coupon booklets … we know you’re interested … all yours … )

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Thanks to College Football Resource for recently adding the JCCW to its Blogroll. Substantially less thanks, however, for its continuing anti-SEC blather. Let’s look at the highlights of this week’s episode, shall we?

”ESPN's Bruce Feldman ($) documents first hand the stodgy, fearful nature that takes over many an SEC game.”

Like, say, that yawner Georgia and Tennessee sleepwalked their way through earlier this season. Or the snoozer Auburn and South Carolina played, where the teams only managed 54 yards on average per possession and never generated an ounce of excitement outside of the mid-third-quarter onsides kick, dropped game-tying TD pass, and last-second fourth-down stop. How did I even stay awake through that one?

”Auburn didn't attack, even though Brandon Cox was having a great game and Ole Miss clearly didn't have the numbers on defense to hold up against Auburn if the Tigers just kept pushing with their offense.”

I’m trying to imagine how Brandon Cox can have a great game without the Auburn offense attacking. Maybe if he jotted some notes on a wipe-off clipboard that afterwards were later discovered to be a new proof to Fermat’s Last Theorem. Perhaps if he performed the Heimlich maneuver to save a six-year-old in the front row, or rewired his sideline headset to receive playcalls from the Ole Miss coaches’ box … Point is, if your offense gains 428 yards without attacking in the Year of the Fast Clock, man, I’d hate to see what they’d do if they did attack.

Feldman also blamed the Tigers for not attacking, though he suggested Auburn should have bulldozed Ole Miss into submission with a power running game. But as CFR helpfully points out, Cox was having a blinder--why pound away at a front seven that has Patrick Willis in it when you don't have to? Neither Feldman nor CFR seem to realize that the reason Auburn failed to separate from Ole Miss had nothing to do with the offense’s attitude, philosophy, play-calling, etc.: the only problem was poor execution close to the Ole Miss end zone. Two turnovers, three field goals in seven possessions inside the Ole Miss 35 isn’t not trying, it’s trying and failing. Feldman should be able to see the difference, though I can’t blame CFR, what with him having to shield his eyes from the sparks thrown up by the axe he’s grinding.

”Great teams find ways to win close games when they're having bad days, sure. But great teams also cleanly put away undermanned foes, especially when their offense is having some success.”

Who the hell has called Auburn a “great” team since the Arkansas game, exactly? Well, aside from Straw Man McStrawerson, of course. CFR is right: Auburn isn’t a great team this year. I hope he has some other newsflashes for us--I’m dying to know if Miami and Florida St. are still the real deal or if this is the year they finally start showing some cracks!

Any rational, even-handed analysis of Auburn follows up “They’re not great” with “Then again, 8-1 with two victories over top-15 teams ain’t exactly shabby, either,” (this is the route Feldman takes) but this is irrational, underhanded analysis, so instead we get …

“Auburn dicked around, and pollsters should rightly ding them for it if that's their imperative. Killer instinct, either you got it or you don't and right now the Tigers just don't have it (other than the second half performance at home against Florida).”

Oh no, not a slight drop in the polls! Anything but that! Even if we do defeat our two oldest rivals and win our second SEC title in three years, how will I get any satisfaction out of it if we finish fifth instead of fourth? Oh, woe and bedragglement!

As for “killer instinct,” if it means blowing the Rebels out, I covered the fat wad of good it would have done the Tigers last time. If it means coming through in the clutch (as CFR’s “Well, except for that time they put their boot on the throat of the best team on their schedule, which we can all agree is meaningless” aside would suggest), let’s let Kevin Scarbinsky explain: “It's true that this team could've lost to LSU and South Carolina and Florida and Ole Miss. It's also true that, four times this season, this team entered the final five minutes with the ending in doubt. All four times, this team won.”

Whatever “instinct” you want to call that, I’ll take it.