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Gearing Up for a National Title!

By on January 2nd, 2014 in Football 25 Comments »

                                                        These Tigers will be prepared!
                                                                    (Photo by Acid Reign)

     War Eagle, everybody! And a happy New Year! Bowl season is in full swing, and 2014 is well underway. It’s hard to believe, but the SEC Champion Auburn Tigers are just 4 days away from playing for their second national championship in 4 years. In this time period, Auburn has gone from first to worst in the league, and back to the top. It has certainly been a roller-coaster ride, to be sure!

     I will state definitively that New Years Day is probably my second favorite holiday of the year! Labor Day is my top one, as it signals the return of football season, and the near end of stifling heat in the South. But for pure television viewing pleasure, nothing is more fun than watching SEC teams going toe to toe with the best teams the rest of the nation can offer.

     My intent for this post was to do my usual position-group matchup preview for the Auburn-Florida State game, making statements about which unit would have the advantage. Honestly, with no common opponents, I don’t really have a clue on most of them. It’s not really fair to either team’s guys for me to simply look at roster height and weight numbers, and try to guess how things will go on the field in Pasadena.


     My guess is that both teams will be superbly prepared, and will lay it on the line Monday night. Clearly both teams played every game this season with purpose and fury, and I see no reason that will change with the calendar this month. As far as distractions go, a trip to California and the attendant hoopla a national title game brings should affect each team equally.

     There is a troubling rumor that Gus Malzhan will be interviewed for the open Cleveland Browns job in the NFL, but I’m having a hard time being too worried about that one. Yes, it’s an NFL job with one of the more rabid and loyal fanbases in the country, but I just don’t see Gus leaving the sunny plains for a frigid rust-belt locale on the shores of a frozen lake. NFL insiders opine that the Cleveland Browns’ organization has much deeper problems than just coaching, and I can’t see coach Malzhan jumping into that quagmire.

     As far as comparing the two teams in this college championship tilt, the best we can do is to look at how each league has fared thus far in the 2013-2014 bowl season. At this point, the SEC is 5-1, with the sole loss coming in Jacksonville, where Georgia dropped a 24-19 game against Nebraska. This was a bout featuring two physically superior teams that under-performed against expectations this season. Georgia looked like the better team, talent-wise, but just had too many execution breakdowns this season.

     The rest of the SEC has dominated their bowl slate. Ole Miss went head to head with ACC foe Georgia Tech, and won 25-17 in the Music City Bowl. Ole Miss finished 8th in the SEC, whereas the Yellow Jackets finished in a tie for 6th in the ACC. Tuesday this week, Mississippi State blasted Rice in the Liberty Bowl, and Texas A&M topped Duke in the Chick Fil-A Bowl 52-48. Texas A&M finished tied for 6th place in the SEC, while Duke was the ACC runner-up. Yes, Duke moved the ball well against the Aggies, but so has every team with a pulse they’ve played this year, including the likes of teams like Rice and Sam Houston State.

     On New Year’s Day, Georgia lost to Nebraska 24-19 in the Gator Bowl, but the other two SEC squads won. Without their starting QB, LSU still dumped B1G foe Iowa 21-14 in the Outback Bowl, and South Carolina bowled over a talented 9-win Wisconsin team in the Cap One Bowl. The SEC still has 3 matchups left to play before the national title game, Alabama vs. Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl tonight, Missouri vs. Oklahoma State Friday in the Cotton Bowl, and Vanderbilt vs. Houston in the BBVA Compass Bank Bowl on Saturday.

     The ACC has not fared as well this bowl season. Maryland opened the misery last Friday, losing by double digits to a C-USA foe Marshall, 31-20 in the Military Bowl. The same day, Syracuse eked by Minnesota 21-17 in the Texas Bowl. Saturday afternoon, North Carolina had the best performance of an ACC team in the post-season, bonking the fighting Tubervilles of Cincinnati 39-17 in the Belk Bowl, a virtual home game in Charlotte, North Carolina. Later in the day, ACC squad Miami did not take advantage of a favorable crowd in Orlando, as Louisville squashed the Hurricanes 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

     ACC woes continued Monday afternoon in Nashville, as Ole Miss downed Georgia Tech 25-17 in the Music City Bowl. Boston College looked absolutely awful on New Year’s Eve in Shreveport, as they were run off the field by Arizona 42-19 in the Advocare V100 Bowl. Anyone remember when this used to be the Weedeater Bowl? Virginia Tech and the dreadful Scot Loeffler offense was bombed later in the afternoon 42-12 by UCLA in the Sun Bowl. Duke and Texas A&M pinballed it out in Atlanta in the evening, with the Aggies winning 52-48.

     The ACC was unable to place even a single team in a New Year’s Day bowl. The league did place a second team in the BCS, as Clemson will take on Ohio State in the Orange Bowl Friday night. I’ll be interested to see how many empty seats there are in Miami. Finally, Florida State will take on Auburn Monday evening in Pasadena for the national crown. Thus far, the SEC is 5-1 in bowl action, while the ACC is 2-6. And Florida State did not even play North Carolina this season, the ACC’s most impressive bowl performer thus far. Meanwhile, Auburn has defeated bowl winners Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and bowl loser Georgia. The Tigers also own wins over bowl teams Missouri and Alabama, who play later this week. I think this pretty much ends the argument of whose season accomplishments are more impressive.

     This coming Monday, we’ll be all-out here on We’ll have our usual material, plus a national title open thread (or two, or three, as traffic dictates) up and running by early afternoon. We’ll have the usual play by play, complete with title-worthy histrionics. Win, lose, or draw, grades will be up by afternoon the following day. As always, please join us for the fun Monday! From worst, to first! This magical Auburn Tiger season concludes Monday evening, hopefully with the Tigers taking home another crystal football! War Eagle! It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger!

Prediction: Pundits have declared for the last 5 Auburn games that the opponent would slow down the Auburn ground attack. They are at it again, in this matchup. It won’t happen. Auburn will continue to chew up yardage, and the Tigers will overpower Florida State, 44-31.


  1. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Malzahn will not leave Auburn for the Browns. He will leave eventually though. I just don’t see it happening in the next few years. As you pointed out that particular job has many, many issues. Owners expect turn arounds to occur quickly. The expectation is more unrealistic than in college ball.

    Considering what happened in nfl this year… these stories will continue. Suggest owners give Gene Chizik a call. Hear he is looking for work.


    • MechTiger says:

      What he said.

      I don’t see Malzahn doing the NFL for quite a while, if ever. I think he’s settling in at Auburn for a long stretch and his family really seems happy here. Yes, he would make a lot more money in the NFL, but it’s a very different (and in some ways, sterile) world compared to College Football and I just don’t see Gus being happy in that environment. Money isn’t everything and that would be about the only reason for him to jump to the NFL.

      • wpleagle wpleagle says:

        After the first three or four million bucks, what difference can the money possibly make? Seriously!

        • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

          …..The thing is that a head coach in the SEC probably won’t be making that money for decades. SEC head coaches ten years ago:
          Vandy: Bobby Johnson. He’s now a “consultant” for the Charleston Man of War,.
          Kentucky: Rich Brooks. He’s now retired, living on the river in Oregon.
          South Carolina: Lou Holtz. He’s now a clown on TV.
          Georgia: Mark Richt. He’s still at UGA.
          Tennessee: Phillip Fulmer. He’s lobbied for several jobs since being dumped at UT, but is currently a consultant at East Tennessee State.
          Florida: Ron Zook. He’s currently a “Business Development Officer” for Gateway Bank in Ocala FL.
          LSU: Nick Saban. Is now head man at Alabama, the highest paid college coach in the nation.
          Arkansas: Houston Nutt. He’s currently an analyst for CBS Sports.
          Mississippi State: Sylvester Croom. Croom is currently the running backs coach with the Tennessee Titans.
          Ole Miss: David Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe is the head coach at Duke, and just posted a 10-4 record this season.
          Alabama: Mike Shula. He’s currently the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers.
          Auburn: Tommy Tuberville. Is currently the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats.

          …..So from a decade ago, only 2 guys out of 12 are still head coaches in the SEC, and only 4 are still making head coach money, anywhere.

          • wpleagle wpleagle says:

            My point was not how long a fella made big coaching bucks. If I had two years earning 2.4 million dollars, even after taxes, I would have a nest egg of at least $1.5 million. I could live a lot of years on that money without earning a single paycheck or touching the principal.
            Of course, I’m sure that there are a lot of folks who have to have the biggest earnings to feed their ego.I am NOT saying that is Gus’ way. I am saying that the intangibles of staying at Auburn with his current compensation from Auburn would far outweigh going to the NFL (for me, at least).

          • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

            CGM is hella smart. I doubt he touches the Browns with a 10 foot pole……now, another NFL team? Maybe. Yes, the $$ is great, but after awhile, it’s about what you want to accomplish professionally. Money makes some of those decisions easier-sure, but ultimately it comes down to drive and aspirations. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether CGM has aspirations for the NFL.

  2. Squeakywheel says:

    Georgia had a lot of bright spots in their game against Nebraska, but that last dropped pass in the end zone will haunt them all off season – sums up the sloppiness you get out of Richt. Their rookie QB did a great job though.

    I hope your Auburn prediction is accurate – and totally agree, they will never stop Auburn’s running game. Watching all of the games yesterday makes one really appreciate what we’ve seen Auburn do… consistently gashing holes in veteran defenses. The question marks are whether the secondary can hang with Florida state’s receivers and whether the D can get pressure on Winston. War Eagle!

  3. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    I see this game being very similar to the SECCG. AU mauls the FSU defense, while getting excellent special teams play and a couplee big turnovers on defense. AU 48 FSU 37

  4. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    I do think that we will run all over the Seminoles. I do worry about their offensive production. If we can’t pressure Winston, it’s going to be a long night. I do think that there’s merit to the fact that the Seminoles have never had to play deep to win–meaning all of their games were well in hand by the middle of the third quarter, if not before then. Whether this is a factor of their overall dominance or a statement about their competition’s weaknesses, I don’t know. You know what they say about playing the full 60 minutes, well the Seminoles haven’t really had to all season. I do think that if this game is taken to the wire in the 4th, our Tigers will find a way to win.


    War Eagle! Beat FSU!!!

  5. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    Great quote by Mark Richt on defending AU (from ESPN mag article):

    “Huard: Here’s a good stat: Of Auburn’s 309 first downs, 215 came via the run. How do you stop an offense this explosive?

    Richt: They play so fast that they try to dictate what you can do defensively, so playing really good defense against Auburn can be a double-edged sword. Say you hold them to two, three, four yards. Well, they are really good in short-yardage situations and will go for it on fourth down too. Now your really good defense has been on the field for more snaps and runs the risk of wearing down. The better defense you play can, in some ways, be a disadvantage.”

  6. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    My goodness. I realize the Tide felt that it was beneath them to play the Sooners in the Sugar, but this is ridiculous. Seriously, stop whining and take your thumb out of your…..mouth and get the job done. You and Georgia are making the SEC look weak. Knock it off!

    Related: in the past, I’ve referred to Mark Richt as the Bob Stoops of the SEC. Clearly, that was more of an insult to Bobby than I realized or intended. My apologies. Those Boomer Sooners look well coached and disciplined. Well played.

  7. broken_towel broken_towel says:

    If I still lived in Alabama I’d probably be cheering for Oklahoma. HOWEVER, everyone outside of the south is so damn anti-SEC it sickens me. Haters gonna hate. WDE!

  8. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    Im pulling for the sooners. The reason being that if Bama wins their fans and all the “experts” will still say they were the best team this year. I also have some pretty arrogant Bama friends.

  9. GRT2BAUTIGER says:

    Ironically, Saban is paid one million per sack allowed by his o line. Someone tell AJ that espn and Vegas don’t decide the best team in the country, sorry bud!

  10. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    Me and my wife went crazy when the sooners took that fumble in! I love football. is in full bammer meltdown already.

  11. broken_towel broken_towel says:

    I’m not as excited as I should be. Am I the only one that saw this and worries about our game?

    • GRT2BAUTIGER says:

      The sooners scored off 4 Bama turnovers. That forced them to abandon their typical run to set up the pass game plan. Bama had no answer for the sooner pass rush much like the iron bowl in the fourth quarter.

      OU played great but bama helped them with a thousand penalties and turnovers.

      In summation, war eagle, beat the noles!

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..I was careful not to rub too much salt into Bama wounds last night at work. I had to leave the house and TV with about 5 minutes left in the half. That Yeldon fumble on the Sooner 8 was a back-breaker. Prior to that, it looked like Bama was surviving a red-hot QB, and had control of the lines of scrimmage. They were tied at 17, and grinding that ball down the field for the go-ahead score, and they were controlling the clock to where Oklahoma wouldn’t have much chance of scoring before halftime.

      …..With that fumble and return, the Sooners were able to strike twice and instead of a 24-17 halftime lead, Bama was trailing by two scores.

    • War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

      Take heart, weren’t we told by the experts that FSU was a clone of Bama? I hope so!

  12. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    I’m fairly positive that Saban has lost control of The Process.

    @Broken_towel, I had similar concerns as yours watching parts of this game. HOWEVER, Bama handed the Sooners this game on a silver platter. Also, I got the distinct feeling that the Tide Players felt strongly that they didn’t belong in the Sugar and instead of taking care of business, they moped through practice. In the end, the Sooners were able to capitalize and the Bammers never woke up from their New Year’s stupor. As long as we keep our mistakes to a minimum, we will stay in the game.

    War Eagle! Beat the Noles!!!

  13. restless6 says:

    I’ll rub salt in the Updykes wound.

    The tide is receding. Auburn is ascending.

  14. GRT2BAUTIGER says:

    This is a Bama fan after 2 back to back losses. Hide your kids…hide your wife.