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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bama loses to Lamo, prepares for Alamo

It should be said I'm an Auburn football fan. Big time. My Mom and Dad met at Auburn, my Dad was an Auburn fan during the horrible Bear-induced drought of the 70's, and I was at the 1982 Iron Bowl in the womb - and when Bo went over the top for the winning score, my father in his joy knocked my pregnant mother over and down the seats. As they say, it explains a lot. My blood (physically) is red but only under the greatest protest.

So it's weird to realize that Bama losing to a horrible Louisiana-Monroe (hereafter referred to as Lamo) would make me feel worse.

Don't get me wrong - it makes my day when Bama loses. Ping pong. Tic tac toe. Coin flips. I don't care, so long as the Tide is defeated and the forces of holiness triumph over evil. Also, here's a pretty fantastic graph from The Auburner:

Get what you pay for, eh? Do you really?

But the timing is bad. There's no reason talent-wise or coaching-wise that UAT should lose to Lamo, a pathetic excuse for a cupcake. Play this game ten times on any other weekend and Bama wins ten times. But with the Iron Bowl a mere week away, I can't shake the feeling that Saban got caught in the ultimate doomsday look-ahead scenario. Put it to you this way: if Auburn had lost to Bama five straight years, and we could only beat one out of Lamo and Bama, I would pull let the mighty WarHawks steamroll the third string, run exactly three offensive plays, and be ready to pull out all the stops the next week. I'd tell my players that this game doesn't matter, that they can sleepwalk now as long as they're hungry at the Iron Bowl. I'd do anything possible to beat Bama, and the early season beatings would only make victory sweeter (yes, even the most embarassing defeat in the history of the school.) IMHO Saban is thinking just that. He'd make a deal with the devil to beat the Plainsmen and I don't blame him. His season is exactly 60 minutes long.

And surprisingly, that gives me more respect for Darth Saban. When he gave up the loss to Lamo, he showed the first hint of being a true Bammer, of realizing that there really is one game that matters more than all the others. Realizing that the rivalry is the soul of college football. He's becoming a true Alabama coach. If he learns how to motivate his team enough to beat Lamo, he'll be a worthy adversary.

So I'm expecting a good fight this weekend. If Bama had beaten Lamo soundly or even gotten the close win, I could still chuckle at the Sabanator for not understanding how football is played in the Yellow Hammer State. But the loss to Lamo is not the monumental collapse that some are making it out to be. It only shows that Saban has his eyes on the prize, and that his players (who have only distant, pre-college memories of Iron Bowl victory) are focused on beating Auburn. Saban may have bit it against Lamo, but his boys will be comin' for us this weekend.

That said, I don't think Auburn is going to come out much differently and that worries me. It'll be defense, defense, and more defense with enough offense to score on a short field (but not enough to confuse Cox and co.) Now, I think that will be enough. Muschamp (UGA notwithstanding) is a stone-cold rock-solid coach, and our defense lives only to feast on the souls of offensive skill players. Quentin Groves will be set loose in the backfield. Tray Blackmon will be the havoc he always is. But, I really think the offense will be the same as it always is. If Borges had a playbook to open up, he would have opened it up on LSU and on Georgia. Auburn fans, what we saw is what we got. Cox is still a medium-range passer, and our receivers still have cold feet and frozen hands - all of which means opposing defenses can sit ten yards off the LOS and swarm our RB's. I'm not expecting much here.

My call: Auburn 17, Bama 10. Because, you know, Saban obviously couldn't coach his way out of a wet paper bag, and Brandon Cox probably still won't be able to throw his way out of one.

War Damn Eagle!

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