Friday, November 28, 2008

Hope, again

This is the last post for today. Check in tomorrow a.m. for an update on last year's "Win" post, and check below for thoughts on the Coachbot, thoughts on the attitudes that shape the rivalry, and a look at what other Auburn bloggers are saying. See you then.

In an unfortunate number of ways, the song for this week's game remains the same as the one we sang two weeks ago: there's precious little honest, rational reason to expect anything but a loss. Alabama has the better team. The better team wins this rivalry substantially more often than it loses it. That's about all there is to it. From that standpoint.

But there is another standpoint: the standpoint that Tommy Tuberville is too proud, too good a coach, too Tommy Tuberville to fail to win this sort of game once again. This is, again, the same standpoint we took two weeks ago. And Auburn did improve. Auburn did give Georgia a better game than Auburn on-paper was supposed to. But they didn't win.

What's changed? Why this Saturday instead of two Saturdays ago? Two reasons:

1. A loss tomorrow would mean an entire season without Auburn having played the complete game, an entire season without one of Tubby's trademark rabbits-out-of-the-hat.In his nine complete seasons with Auburn, Tubby has never failed to give us one of these. 9-for-9. He has only one chance left. He will take it.

2. The Story. The narrative of Auburn's disastrous early season, ho-hum midseason, and slow grind back to unexpected triumph in the late season can only have one climax. The plucky underdogs never win the sorta-big game against the mild-mannered, easygoing head coach. They win the biggest game of the year against the borderline-evil head coach. That's how these things work.

Of this I have little doubt: Auburn is going to go to Tuscaloosa and play their best game of the year. They have to. Otherwise their best game of the year will be one of two four- or five-point losses at home to the two biggest non-Alabama rivals on the schedule, and ... what? What kind of season is that?

No. Auburn will play well. They will play like men, like Tubby's men, like Tigers. Logic tells us it won't be enough, and if that's the case, there won't be any need for forgiveness because they'll be no injury.

But something beyond logic--let's go ahead and call it faith--tells us it may very well be enough. The presence of Tommy Tuberville--even now, at the end of the long and treacherous road this season has become--tells me it will be.

Until the final whistle blows tomorrow, I'll listen. I'll believe. It will happen. War Eagle.

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