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Sunday, November 26, 2017

More Chaos / More Clear

After this past weekend the CFB Playoff picture has become much more clear. The list of teams has narrowed, and some really good teams were upset. Let's take a look at the chaos that was, sort through the rubble, and try to place pieces of the puzzle into a realistic scene.

Clemson rolled, and Miami stumbled. 

Clemson took a resurgent, 8 win South Carolina team and spanked them 34-10. That's impressive. The Hurricane program took a step back with a loss to Pitt 24-14. Miami failed to score in the opening quarter of each half. That's not championship football. 

Barring a slip to Miami in the ACC championship game, Clemson looks like a lock in the CFB Playoff.

Big 12
Oklahoma looks impressive. 

Okay, it was West Virginia. The Mountaineers scored points in every quarter. Raising more questions about Oklahoma's defense. But not enough questions to think Oklahoma isn't sitting at the table when playoff invitations are doled out. Barring a meltdown to TCU in the title game.

Auburn took down another #1 team.

In one of college football's biggest rivalry games Auburn defeated Alabama 26-14 in the Iron Bowl. The Tigers were clearly the better team last Saturday.

Auburn will play Georgia again in the SEC Championship game. The winner should advance to the playoffs.

Wisconsin rolls, and Ohio State makes a statement.

These two teams will face off in the Big 10 championship game. If Wisconsin wins, they are in. If Ohio State wins, there "may" be some debate as to the Buckeyes chance of getting an invitation. 

PAC 12
Washington and USC each have two losses. 

USC has the advantage in that they play in the PAC 12 championship vs Stanford. If the Trojans win, they could make a case for their inclusion to the playoffs. 

Last week's two top teams were beaten handily, and the fall could be monumental and damaging for their playoff dreams. Both of these teams failed to score so much as a FG in two of the respective four quarters of play. 

Difficult to imagine Alabama recovering from that Stat while sitting at home. Notre Dame has bowed out with a 38-20 loss to Stanford.

Here's my Top 10
6.Ohio State

I look forward to your comments.

The GOAT Season Shaping Up for AU

The scenario of the most legendary College Football season is shaping up.

Anyone who has ever played sports knows just how hard it is to beat the same team twice in the same season. Whether it be because of home field advantage, injuries, adjustments, general wear and tear on the players and the coaches, as well as position in the standings and having that “nothing to lose” aspect. Yeah, see the Miami vs. Pitt game is a great recent example of that.

But our Auburn Tiger team can embark on the most daunting finish ever even dreamed of in the history of College Football. Here is what I mean.

We now have defeated Georgia and Alabama who were both ranked number one and we held the explosive Clemson Tigers to 14 points at the beginning of the season with a very different QB. Props to Jarrett Stidham for progressing as fast as he has.  What a freaking QB!  I just want you to be here for a while, ok?

Now the scenario: Auburn is now playing Georgia for a second time. I am sure Gus has learned the power of the unpredictable and the commitment to stepping on the throat and never letting up until the clock hits 0’s in the 4th quarter. When we defeat Georgia after Championship weekend that won't be our first 2nd meeting win. See 2010 South Carolina.

With an Ohio State win over Wisconsin which I expect will happen because Urban seemed pretty ticked off at the photogs at the Michigan game for hurting his QB, they will be ready.  That will put Alabama right back into the College Football Playoff. We all expect Clemson to win against Miami as I think that turnover chain is a gimmick – they wore that turnover chain against Pitt and how did that work out for them? Yeah, it didn’t. Anyways, now we have Auburn, Alabama, Clemson and let’s say Oklahoma in the final Playoff. Auburn could get Clemson again to avenge that week 2 loss, what an opportunity that would be. Then Alabama takes care of business against Oklahoma. I have a feeling that Nick would be playing the plethora of clips available of Baker Mayfield being the biggest tool in College Football in every game to get his defense ready to rip his heart out and “defeat” them as Nick programs his team to do. Which would then lead to a second Iron Bowl in the same season for the National Championship.

What a scenario… what a season…. this is what GOAT teams are made of…. Auburn does not only beat one team but two teams twice in the same season and avenges a loss to the #2 ranked team or maybe Clemson could even be ranked #1. This could give us three wins over #1 ranked teams in the same season! Imagine, a 2-loss team in the argument for greatest season… ever! This is a testament to the even though you get knocked down, it is how you get back up and respond that matters. We would all show the entire Universe what all of us already know….


… And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.

War Eagle y’all and keep that foot on the pedal!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tigers Throttle the Tide

artwork by @AURobUSA
The 6th ranked Auburn Tigers dominated number one Alabama  throughout most of the game. Auburn came out riding an emotional high and rode that wave to a convincing 26-14 victory.

The Crimson Tide team fell behind in the first half 10-7, garnered a short lived lead early in the 3rd quarter on a Bo Scarbrough TD, and the Auburn defense shut them down from then on. 

The defensive performance was so smothering it wasn't until the 4th quarter that Alabama could convert a third down attempt. The Tide finished a paltry 3 of 11 on 3rd downs and only 1 of 4 on 4th down.
Team TotalsUAAU
First Downs1825
Net Yards Rushing211168
Net Yards Passing103240
Total Offense Yards314408
Fumbles: Number-Lost3 - 11 - 1
Penalties: Number-Yards9 - 654 - 40
Punts - Yards4 - 1845 - 179
Possession Time23:5836:02
Third-Down Conversions3 of 11 (0.273)9 of 18 (0.500)
Fourth-Down Conversions1 of 4 (0.250)0 of 0 (0.000)
Sacks By: Number-Yards1-42-11
Field Goals0-0 (0)2-2 (1.000)

It's worth noting that a Nick Saban coached team, has never beaten an Auburn team that had 9 or more wins. Not while he was at LSU, nor at Alabama.

Auburn will take on the Georgia Bulldogs, again, this time in the SEC Championship game. Kickoff is set 4pm ET in Atlanta, GA next Saturday.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Giving Thanks- Football, Family and Friends

Niece Ella and me at a game in 2016.
It is almost Thanksgiving, so its almost time for the Iron Bowl, the most wonderful time of the year.  I've read lots where people try to explain the Auburn/Alabama rivalry to those who do not live in the state. I am not sure that is possible. I was followed and "yelled at" by an old lady in the grocery store today. One thing I have often read is that when a child is born in the state, he or she must declare their loyalty to a school. Family history definitely plays a major role in this choice.

I've been an Auburn fan my entire life. My parents met at Auburn. When I was really little, we lived in Florida but I do not remember any trips to Auburn from that time. We moved back to Alabama when I was five. My parents grew up in Anniston and Gadsden but when we moved but, we moved to Semmes, which is outside of Mobile.  My grandparents that lived in Anniston went to lots of games. They eventually bought season tickets. Once a year, we would get tickets and drive up from Mobile. My grandparents would get a good parking spot and would "save" us a spot. My aunt and uncle came over from Birmingham.  We usually ate sandwiches out of the trunk. If you have been around Auburn a long time, you might remember that there used to be a tiny lot in front of Haley Center. That is where we would park. This was when the eagle cage was on the lawn and I would always go "pet the eagle", even if it did scare the crap out of me.  My dad worked at Anders while he was a student, so we would always walk over to Anders. We would get a "game day" shirt and get our faces painted with a paw print. If you've really been around Auburn a long time, you might remember the basement of Haley Center had a cafeteria, and we would sometimes get to eat there. My grandmother always got Maryland Turkey. I have NO IDEA what that is now, but I remember my grandmother eating it. When the game started, we all split up. My aunt and uncle had seats in the corner where they are adding on right now, our seats were in the other end zone, and my grandparents had the primo 50 yard line seats. Where the seats were did not matter at all. It was the time with family that meant so much to us.

My immediate family- except my dad who is taking the picture.

One distinct memory that I have shared a few times is the 1983 season Sugar Bowl. We all went to the game. I was in 2nd grade. After the game, my parents drove me back to Mobile and made me go to school the next day. My sister was not in school yet, so she got to stay in New Orleans with my grandparents and aunt and uncle. That is typical of being the child of teachers! (This is the game where my football superstitions began, but that is another story altogether)

My mom, sister and I in 2013. This game was early in the season so I had no idea we'd play for the national title.

For me, Auburn football is more than a game. It is family to me. As my sister and I got older, we were not able to attend games all together. My grandfather died right after I graduated from high school. My grandmother still went to some games. My uncle went to games too until his health got really bad.  My uncle died during the 2010 season. He died the day before the Ole Miss game that year. For years, we kept my grandparents' tickets, with the assistance for a great friend my grandfather made while they were attending games. We would take turns going to games which gave us a chance to share Auburn with our friends. I have several friends who have attended games with me. Some were already Auburn folks but no one I ever took did not become a fan of Auburn. After my nieces were born, we started going once a year with everyone, including the twins. Some of those trips have been harrowing but ALL have been wonderful memories. My sister and brother-in-law got to attend the Kick-Six.

Emma and Ella at Auburn vs Ole Miss in 2011.

These two never had any other choice.They were preemies. The one in blue weighed 2.6 pounds and the one in orange weighed 3.7 pounds. They were in the NICU for a while. We had little tiny stuffed Aubies hanging in their isolette, so they never had a chance for anything else! I am especially thankful for these two.

My best friend, Regina and me. She has gone to many Auburn games with me. Now she lives in Alabama so she roots for us.

I am thankful that somewhere back there someone chose Auburn. I am thankful for the friends I have made. I am thankful for the family memories that we have shared over the years.  I am thankful for the Internet and how it lets us interact with players in a way that was impossible previous to social media. I am thankful for Auburn when we win and thankful for Auburn when we lose. It is about more than football or basketball or softball. It is my grandmother and my grandfather. It is getting to see Emma and Ella carry on our love for Auburn. It is seeing a friend fall in love with the campus and football games. I am thankful for the time and memories with family, no matter what the outcome. I am thankful that we can sit at the table and talk about "remember when" no matter what is going on in the current season.

Emma and Ella at J & M in summertime. 

 It wouldn't have mattered that my entire family was Auburn before I was born. I think it is the team I would have chosen anyway because I am Auburn...and I am forever thankful.

ULM Highlights & Iron Bowl Thoughts


It was a rough start to the game ost Auburn fans thought to be a breeze.

Auburn woke up in the second half and turned a close game into a blowout as they handled ULM by the score of  42-14

Team TotalsULMAU
First Downs1625
Net Yards Rushing116317
Net Yards Passing217235
Total Offense Yards333552
Fumbles: Number-Lost2 - 13 - 1
Penalties: Number-Yards3 - 145 - 41
Punts - Yards7 - 2934 - 134
Possession Time31:3928:21
Third-Down Conversions8 of 20 (0.400)5 of 10 (0.500)
Fourth-Down Conversions1 of 2 (0.500)1 of 1 (1.000)
Sacks By: Number-Yards0-02-13
Field Goals0-0 (0)0-0 (0)

With that game behind us we can now turn our full attention to the Iron Bowl. As if we hadn't already been focused fully on Alabama visiting the Loveliest Village. 

Several things to point out about Alabama this season. They haven't looked exceptionally dominant on defense, and now it seems they have injury problems  to boot.  It only looks that way. 

A quick look into reveals Alabama has the number one scoring defense in all the land. They also have the number two rushing defense. On top of all that, the pachyderms from T-Town Men's Wear have the number three ranked passing defense. All of this means Alabama has the number one defense in the country, and can't be scored upon. Yet.........

Auburn's defense is ranked two spots higher than Alabama in games played against (AP poll only) ranked opponents. The Tigers offense is also neck and neck with Alabama in games against ranked opponents. 

In November, when the heat gets turned up, Auburn is 12th in total offense vs 'Bama being ranked 48th. Alabama's defense has only allowed 3.85 yards per play in November. Auburn's offense has averaged 6.92 yards per play. When Auburn has the ball, and how well they perform, is where the game will be decided.

Auburn enters this game the healthiest they have been in three seasons on both sides of the ball. I like our chances if Auburn can do these key things:
Run the ball well. 
Cover punt returns and kickoffs with some modest improvements.
Do not allow Jalen Hurts to beat them with his legs.
Keep a lid on Calvin Ridley.  

Don't do those things, and Katy bar the door. I think Gus Malzahn and his staff will have the kinks ironed out. 

Auburn should win this game 31-17. If the kick return teams allow a few big returns, then it may be closer. Say, 28-24. Either way, 


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Navy Shaker

It is no secret that I am extremely superstitious when it comes to sports, especially Auburn sports. I will change seats, shirts, or the location from which I am watching the game. I wear the same bracelets on THURSDAYS that I wore when we won the day of the national championship game. I am not sure why I started wearing them on Thursdays.  I always buy a game program. I would not leave work early the day of either national championship game because I left work early once for an Outback Bowl and we lost. I could go on and on. I am sure you all understand. 

When I saw that the game was NAVY, I groaned to myself.  Actually, I did more than that. I texted my friend Ashley, who was going to the game with me. My actual text was, "Awwwww, crap. It's a navy game.' She responded with, "We're doomed!" So far, my experience with navy games has been quite bad. I especially considered the navy shakers to be cursed. I texted her again, "Maybe we will be ok as long as there are not navy shakers."

Now, I will say. Campus held a certain buzz Saturday that I had not experienced in quite some time. I would say the atmosphere was similar to the 2010 Georgia game.We got there and parked in our normal lot, but it was nearly full. We rode the bus over, and everyone was very pumped.  I have been extremely sick, so I could not do a lot of running from place to place, so we went to eat at Mama Goldbergs then went to the bookstore. The bookstore was CA-RAZY from everyone trying to buy sweatshirts since it was so cold. Campus was still buzzing. I could not put my finger on it, but things seemed to feel different.  I bought my game program and we went on in the stadium.

BLUE. SHAKERS. I refused to get one. I would not even touch them. 

I was nervous, but the student section was PUMPED UP. They really were. I was excited to see how excited they were, even if they were waving around those cursed navy shakers. It seems like every game I have ever been to where those navy shakers are out, we have lost. We talked with some of the people around us for a while when 3 late teen Georgia fans show up for the seats on the end of the row. I was a little worried they might be obnoxious but they were very polite and friendly.  They were not dressed for the weather at all. The kid closest to us told us that he lives nearby and roots for Auburn on every game except Georgia. Of course, everyone knows what happened. When Auburn went ahead, the kid nearest to us just put his head in his hands. He was a thin little fella, so he was freezing. Everyone around him offered Auburn jackets or sweatshirts but he declined. The lady in front of him had  a jacket that did not have anything on it and he accepted. They players came out and went over for their prayer in the far corner of the stadium. I wonder why that is their spot?

We're up by quite a bit. I am still worried about those navy shakers. 

When we scored after halftime, the kids leave. He had been muttering about freezing for no reason and there was no way they would beat Bama. He handed back the jackets and left. He really was polite. We scooted over a little and spread out since we had been jammed in like sardines.  Immediately there was a good play that went UGA's way. I honestly do not remember what it was. I moved back to my original seat. I told the lady on my other side how "traditional" I was. She laughed and said she was the same way. I pointed to the navy shakers and told her I was worried about them. 

Of course, it became evident we were going to win. Watching our boys have so much fun dancing was a highlight of my year. I mean it. It was awesome to watch them. I am not the biggest fan of the jumbotron because I miss the band playing all the time. However, I will say that the DJ fella was SPOT ON with his selections. When he played "Too Late" on the review of the play made my laugh a lot! The plays, the players, the songs were all fabulous. It was a great atmosphere and I had a blast. 

Fast forward to the end of the game. I made sure to grab a navy shaker! I have it on my special shelf. Why are we so superstitious? I cannot explain it, but at least I have one more I can mark off the list!!

Christy:1 Navy Shaker:0
War Eagle, everybody!

Jeff Holland. Isn't he fun?

P.S- I stayed in my original seat the remainder of the game, jammed up against folks I do not know when there was plenty of room to spread out. Maybe that will be my next worry that I conquer!

Monday, November 13, 2017

College Football Playoff Chaos

Wow! Just wow! Miami exposed Notre Dame, Auburn routed the SEC East champion, Ohio State deflated Michigan State's dreams, and Oklahoma ousted TCU from any real playoff conversation. What a weekend.

When last we visited this subject we had no less than 14 teams still vying for the 4 coveted spots in the playoff. This past weekend saw a complete mess made of some teams hopes. 

I will give you my take on the chaos, and what I believe all this means as it relates to playoff potential.
Chart courtesy of @AURobUSA

Pac 12
Stanford knocking off Washington really hurt the Huskies chance at being in the playoff. The Huskies were 9th last week. Hard to see them anywhere below 15th with just 3 weeks left in the season. 

The only team in the PAC 12 still with a chance? USC. The Trojans need to handle UCLA convincingly, then do the same to their opponent in the championship game. Even then, they will need some help. Namely have teams in front of them to lose. 

Big 12
Oklahoma throttled TCU putting up all 38 of their points in the first half, and cruising to victory. The Horned Frogs may still be mathematically in the race, but I doubt they have what it takes to take Oklahoma down, assuming they can make the championship game in the first place. 

The Sooners however, should they take care of business may well have punched their ticket with the big win.

Wisconsin rolled Iowa, while Ohio State piled up on Michigan State. The advantage is to Wisconsin at the moment. Being undefeated, and ranked 8th last week, the Badgers need only to take care of business by winning out, and they "should be" in.

Meanwhile in Columbus, the Buckeyes are making a statement that they don't want to be left out. There is zero room for error for the Buckeyes.

Should they win out, and beat Whisky in the Big 10 championship game.  They may well do enough for an invitation.

Auburn took a punch to the snout on the opening drive, and then rebounded well to take a bite out of the Dawgs. Meanwhile a visiting Alabama had to rely on some 4th quarter heroics from its QB Jalen Hurts, to rally and beat MIssissippi State in StarkVegas. 

It's simple for Alabama. Win out and they are a shoe-in. Lose, and the road gets bumpy. Same for UGA. They still have everything they hoped for in front of them. The Dawgs can ill afford another let down. 

I still believe Auburn has an outside chance to make the playoffs, but like USC, they will need lots of things to happen in front of them. 

Clemson and Miami are the class of this conference. Seems a sure bet these two will play for a winner takes all seat at the CFP table, in the ACC championship game.

Central Florida won, and is making a case for inclusion. Notre Dame let the moment slip through their fingers, and are now out of the picture. 
artwork by @AURobUSA 

A new CFP poll is due out Tuesday night.

My Top 10 CFP rankings: 
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Wisconsin
4. Miami
5. Oklahoma
6. Auburn
8. Georgia
9. Ohio State 
10. UCF

Until next time......

Auburn Rocks Georgia!

artwork created by @AURobUSA

It's simple really. Georgia came out and set the tone on their first drive. They punched Auburn in the mouth, and scored a touchdown. Then Auburn punched back. Repeatedly. Until in the end, it was a rout of the number one ranked team. The final score was Auburn 40 UGA 17.

This game meant something different for the Auburn fans. Much like the LSU game, there are some heavy weights that needed to be lifted from our backs as well as off the backs of our team. Losing to LSU left us a terrible attitude, and with many questions as to whether this coaching staff understood what beating our rivals meant to us. 

I'm pretty sure they got the message.

Coach Malzahn and his staff have made efforts to ensure the stinging loss to the Bengal Tigers would not be repeated any time soon. This team has finished their opponents in the second half. 

Against Arkansas the Tigers scored 35 points, 28 in the 3rd quarter alone. With a 21-13 lead at the half, Auburn came out in the second half and scored 21 more against Texas A and M. Saturday against their oldest rival, they poured on 24 points in the second half. 

Every Auburn fan is well pleased with these type performances. It showed in the glow of the after party. 
photo by Albert Cesare of Montgomery Advertiser

Somewhere in all of this joy and chaos come the realization this Auburn team is getting better. They are not great yet, although they played extremely well against Georgia, they were not perfect.
Courtesy of the official Auburn Tiger Football page:
Team TotalsUGAAU
First Downs1325
Net Yards Rushing46237
Net Yards Passing184251
Total Offense Yards230488
Fumbles: Number-Lost2 - 11 - 0
Penalties: Number-Yards7 - 755 - 29
Punts - Yards8 - 3574 - 158
Possession Time26:5433:06
Third-Down Conversions3 of 14 (0.214)4 of 13 (0.308)
Fourth-Down Conversions2 of 2 (1.000)0 of 0 (0.000)
Sacks By: Number-Yards2-124-37
Field Goals1-2 (0.500)4-4 (1.000)

There are still a lot of goals and dreams to work toward. Only way to the top is to take that first step upward. Saturday at home this Auburn team took a step up. Let's keep climbing guys. We haven't reached the top just yet.

War Eagle!