Auburn Football Has Meaning Again
Photo by Julie Bennett/al.com
Silly us. Why did we ever doubt Gus Malzahn would turn it around? Many thought the next Amen Corner they’d see would be in early April at Augusta. A funny thing happened in College Station Saturday night – a football team finally came into season. Break out your Auburn gear, we’ve got unfinished business to do.
Given his choice, Malzahn certainly would have scripted the year differently, but his comeback story sure makes for an exciting Thanksgiving season. This given-up-for-dead Auburn squad is now a pick’em against Georgia among odds-makers. Who would have placed money on that three weeks ago?
What about the storylines? Where do you start? Will it be Jeremy Johnson or Sean White? While his numbers were only average, the Auburn offense never clicked better than when Johnson was behind center.
Some of the nagging red zone issues remain, but the entire offense rallied around the comeback kid. It was easy to see why. Following the game, Johnson said he was playing for Sean (White). Is that a leader or what? Ready to go or not, it’s going to be mighty difficult for White to grab the reins back from Johnson this Saturday.
Speaking of comebacks, how about the return of Rhett Lashlee? The Auburn offensive coordinator has been crucified on message boards over the past week, even sparking rumors that Malzahn was considering a change at year’s end.
Following the win, Malzahn was quick to give credit to Lashlee while speaking to reporters. Taking it a step further, he asked his right-hand man to lead the team in the fight song in the locker room. The feel-good stories just kept coming. For a minute I thought my wife had turned on the Hallmark Channel.
Now Auburn turns its attention to a Georgia program that’s nearly mirrored Auburn’s arc this season. For both Malzahn and Mark Richt, the stakes couldn’t be much higher in November. A Georgia loss might mean the door for its embattled coach.
For Malzahn, a victory takes Auburn into the Iron Bowl on a (likely) three-game winning streak and soaring confidence. Suddenly the unwinnable game becomes dare I say… Possible?
With Will Muschamp getting his mojo on defense, this team is suddenly one of the most dangerous in the country. Turning the dial Saturday, it was hard to find a team playing better ball than Auburn. Did I really just that sentence?
The national media will all but crown Alabama the SEC Champion this week. They would be wise to think twice. One game doesn’t make a season, but the progress of this Auburn team should be scary to those who work in Athens and Tuscaloosa.
Most importantly, we learned that Malzahn is not the reincarnation of Gene Chizik. That scar runs deep. The relief of knowing this guy has a future on the Plains is as good as any victory.
Auburn fans have something to get excited about again. There’s never been a season with wins over Georgia and Alabama that was labeled a bad one. Grab victory in these next three games, and there’ll be nothing but fond memories of 2015.
I believe again.