Thursday, October 25, 2007

4. It comes around

Fourth in a series.

No, unlike Tubby, I'm not wound up about the officiating in this game.

I do think it's rather evident that picking up an illegal formation flag just because the replay official happened to consider it the right thing to do is a flagrant violation of officiating protocol. And that infamous spot on LSU's final drive was a bad joke.

But overall, the officiating in this game wasn't quite what I'd call one-sided. Even Tubby admitted the Dorsey "chop" should have been 15. There's a blatant, screaming, take-down hold by Bosley on the pass to Lester that takes Auburn inside the 10 on their final drive. It went uncalled. And the helmet-to-helmet penalty from earlier on that drive, while I think a necessary call, was hardly what you'd call an obvious case of malicious intent. I seriously doubt I'd be writing about it now if it hadn't been flagged.

But more importantly, there's this:

Whatever you think of this call--and I am of that happy Auburn majority who happen to think the correct call was made--it's not debatable that it could have gone either way. Whatever you think of Chris Leak's fumble/not-fumble in Jordan-Hare last year, again, it has to be acknowledged that the direction chosen by the officiating crew on that play might as well have been chosen by the flip of a coin as much as an examination of the rulebook. I don't agree with ATVS's position on Ramsey (that's up next) but I don't see any reason to disagree with them when they write that it was Auburn's turn to draw the short straw from the officials.

The hard truth is that the Law of Averages was never going to be kind to Auburn this week. As Kevin Scarbinsky pointed out this week (when he wasn't busy using the word "Maybe" as its own paragraph, anyway), beating Florida, Arkansas, and LSU all on the road was alwasy going to be the next-best-thing to impossible. Doing it in mega-dramatic, fourth-quarter heart-stoppages, touchdown-or-less fashion all three times? I know this whole season is college football's version of Opposite Day, but we're talking "Auburn wins 24-23, tear opens in the space-time continuum" unlikely here. (It does not help that, despite what some enthusiastic Auburn fans and LSU haters seem to think, LSU was the better down-to-down team. 488 yards to 296 is still 488 to 296, as well as Auburn owned the clock and bent rather than breaking on D.)

And, of course, there's last year to deal with. I'm not going to repeat myself (yet) again, but the bottom line is that Auburn was not as good as their glittering record last season. So it became likely that this season, Auburn would in fact be a better team than their record indicated.

And here we are. At 5-3 and with the three losses coming a) in overtime b) with Auburn stalled nine yards away c) on a well-defended 25-yard pass play on the last play of regulation, all by a total of 14 points, it's safe to say that Auburn is indeed seeing what went around in 2006 come around.

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