What a week! I was able to experience one of the most exciting sporting events of my life. Auburn beat Alabama . . . BAD. If you grew up in Alabama, as I did, during the heyday of the dominance of Paul “Bear” Bryant then you know that any win over the Crimson Tide is special.
If you have had any interest in college football in the past decade, then you know that Alabama’s dominance of college football has been even more complete. The Iron Bowl is college football’s most intense rivalry which made the Auburn victory last weekend even sweeter.
Defeating two #1 teams in the space of three weeks has never occurred before, certainly not in the modern football era. Having to face the Georgia Bulldogs again a week after the Iron Bowl seems unbelievable or even unfair. It legal terms, it is clearly a case of double jeopardy.
As of last year, there had been 22 bowl games that were a rematch of a regular season game. The loser of the first game, in this case UGA, won the bowl game in 15 of those rematches.
However, in conference games rematches, which have occurred 30 times over the years, the winner of the regular season game, in this case Auburn, won again 19 times, often by a larger margin.
What does that mean? Well, actually nothing. I long ago learned that you could make the numbers say whatever you wanted them to say. The fact remains, this will likely be an intense game, with two teams highly motivated to do their best one more time.
It will not be in the hostile environment of Jordan-Hare Stadium, but it will be loud, very loud. It will be in that cathedral of college football, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Though likely an intimidating place for a 20 year old to play for the first time, neither team has any prior experience playing there.
The media swarm will hype the game as much as is possible in one short week. It is a chance for both programs to showcase their progress and to tell a good story to the all-important recruits for the future.
Tickets and hotel rooms will be insanely expensive, in keeping with the long term trend of college football becoming big business; very big business.
For me, Auburn has already won. No one expected us to be in the SEC Championship Game after the loss to Clemson, and certainly not after the loss to LSU. Yet, in the same year the Tigers ended a three game losing streak against their two biggest rivals. Auburn decisively defeated both Georgia and Alabama while both were ranked as the top team in the country, and it all happened at our home stadium. It does not get much better than that.
I am not greedy. Auburn fans have already won more than they ever expected. However, Mary Lou and I will be there on Saturday, wearing the same lucky clothes that got us through these last few big games.
We will cheer until our voices are gone and we will hopefully celebrate a most improbable journey to the College Football Playoffs. If not, then we will watch the replays of the earlier Georgia loss to Auburn and we will spend the next 365 days knowing that we beat Bama…BAD.
War Eagle! Go Dawgs. And as I said in my article three weeks ago, may the best team win . . . again.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org