War Eagle Hey!
Too much hype? No way. Saturday was old school. You could see Shug smiling from the clouds. Saturday was A.P.I. football. This was the game that your grandfather played. Throw out Steve Spurrier, the Fun-N-Gun and the Pro-Set offense. Saturday was the kind of football that the SEC was built on. First downs were like touchdowns. And only real men were allowed on the field.
7-3. 10 points. On a late summer day, we saw the two best teams in the Southeastern Conference leave it all on the field. With apologies to Florida and Georgia, the class of the SEC played Saturday at Pat Dye Field.
There have been many classics played in Auburn; this one was among the best. From Tiger Walk to Spirit (the eagle) taking an extra lap around the stadium during pregame, the 41st renewal of Auburn-LSU will be remembered for its uniqueness and importance.
Word spread around the stadium early that Notre Dame was losing badly to Michigan. The number two national ranking was up for grabs. On the field it didn’t seem to matter. You got the feeling that these players were playing for only one thing; and that was to beat each other. Forget the SEC and the national championship, they were out there with one purpose, to bloody each other and hit one another in the gut. And what a treat it was to be a spectator.
There were so many story lines. Where do you start? How about Brandon Cox? In a scene out of a Rocky movie, the junior from Trussville, shrugged off a deep leg bruise to will his team to victory. LSU was determined to shut down Auburn ‘s running game. And Cox was determined to make them pay.
And how about Kenny Irons? Forget the Heisman talk. The numbers won’t be there. More importantly though, his heart was. He clawed and fought his way through a physical LSU defensive line that was all too happy to punish him. Irons 70 yards of rushing was huge at times, just enough to keep the clock moving when it needed moving the most. His longest rushing carry? 12 yards. And it felt like 70 yards.
How about Jerraud Powers? The red-shirt freshman from Decatur was planning on keeping his uniform clean Saturday afternoon. In pregame, back-up cornerback Pat Lee developed a fever and was out before kickoff. Then Jonathan Wilhite was taken out of the game with a hamstring injury. That left Powers to go in and defend against LSU quarterback JeMarcus Russell and its group of blue chip wide receivers.
Surely the LSU offense would go after Powers? And they did. The result: zero. How successful has Tommy Tuberville’s recruiting program been? Unbelievable.
Who is this Will Herring kid? We all knew he was a player. But where did he learn to hit like that? Herring was the minister of defense on the field. His jarring hits drew collective sighs from the nearly 88,000 in attendance. Is anyone still worried that he can’t play the linebacker position?
Let’s not forget Kody Bliss. Not since Lewis Colbert have we seen such a clutch punter. With field position at stake time-after-time, Bliss delivered. He averaged 48.2 yards on six kicks and had one go for 62 yards. Bliss played as big a roll as anyone in Auburn ‘s victory.
And what about John Vaughn? God love him. There really was Voodoo in the air. Thank goodness that chapter in his life is over. Now he can go back to being an All-SEC kicker.
Kudos to Will Muschamp. What a pleasure it was to watch his enthusiasm on the sidelines. That was worth the admission price alone. He is the real deal. Mark my word: Muschamp will become one of the great coaches in college football.
And finally, let’s give some love to LSU. If Auburn does move to number two this week, then LSU should be 2A. Like last year’s game, what a shame that someone had to lose. Les Miles and his bunch have quite a program brewing in Bayou country. Don’t be surprised to see LSU playing in one of the BCS games during the Holidays.
“One for the ages” is an over-used term. But on Saturday afternoon that’s exactly what we got. Thank goodness we don’t have to see them again until next year. Are you ready for Buffalo ?
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