As an Auburn fan, there are three goals for any season.
First and foremost, embarrass Bama or break their hearts, but either way beat the tar out of 'em. I don't buy it when Auburn fans say they're glad Bama's getting more competitive. My father instilled in me the same gritty, biting tiger blood that was forged in his Montgomery boyhood during the reign of the B'er. A deep-seated hate that hangs like a millstone, having ground its way from the Punt Bama Punt game to Bo Over the Top, both of which he remembers vividly. I was there in the student section in the womb when Bo Jackson ended nine years of pain and I will spit on my grandmother's grave before I relish the thought of Bama getting anything less than the beatdown they deserve.
Second, the ever-nagging hope of our chronically hampered national ambitions. 2004 won't ever go away for me, but again, my father points me back to 1983. We ain't no beauty queens, tigers, even when we are. Screw it.
And then, there's the SEC. Call me a homer but winning the conference will always mean more than garnering some national opinion. This isn't an election, it's foobaw. So while beating Bama is a moral victory and a triumph of justice, competing in the SEC is the measure of success for our football team. Every year, LSU and Auburn meet at the crossroads of the SEC west and beat each other beyond recognition.
As SEC rivalries go, this is one in which I'm pretty neutral. I don't hate LSU. Maybe that's by virtue of having never even seen an LSU fan, though my dad is happy to tell me of their bourbon-reeking ways. Having never had beer or mustard dumped on me, and never seen bottles and rocks chucked at the elderly, I simply appreciate their team from afar. To me, they're just that other juggernaut in the SEC West.
Here's my wish list for Armageddon:
1. We win.
Nurr - obviously. Victory would mean no less than in any other year.
The Violence Bowl would be a fitting title. Seems like every time LSU and Auburn meet, someone comes up brutally injured. I'd be relieved to get out of this game with our quartback intact, now that we've officially painted the bulls-eye on Chris Todd.
Scott's been a hoss in the few games LSU has played, romping all over the bengals' hapless opponents to the tune of a bizarre 11 yards a carry. But of his four touchdowns, only one came from in the redzone, and the fourth was from eight yards out after a 56 yard scamper. Call me silly, but I think this is a good sign for Auburn - busting huge runs against Appy State and North Texas doesn't necessarily translate into the everydown, grinding, tooth-rattling run game it'll take to get by an incredibly nasty Auburn run defense. Scott's numbers still look good when you minus 'em out: 5.4 a carry on 14 carries with a touch vs. the fighting Appendectomies, and 4 a carry on 5 carries against the mean green. We just aren't going to give up that big play, so Scott's going to have to do the work all by his self. If we held the God-like McFadden to 43 yards and we're better this year...? When Auburn's on defense, I think the lines will come to a draw at worst and that means the spotlight is on a resurgent Ball of Hate. God help Austin 'cause Tray ain't gonna.
4. Jerraud Powers comes clean like a Tomahawk missile on a corner blitz
Jerraud's been thinking about this game for a long, long time now. I'm fully confident he'll give us a fantastic performance tomorrow night. I'd just love to see him knock a tooth out of Hatch's unsuspecting head. You know, purely for the sake of catharsis.
I'd put the whole secondary on this list (Godspeed to them against that swarm of ostrich-legged, glue-fingered freaks) but honestly, our green defensive backfield has played outstandingly so far, and I can't see jinxing that success. Good luck, fellas.
5. The refs fail to notice that our defensive line is in reality an angry cohort of grizzly bears
We can only hide this for so much longer.
6. Chris Todd does nothing to stoke the Kodi fever
Todd did his one job very well last week, which was, don't give the ball game away. Ideally, I'd love to see a Campbellian transformation, the kind of gut-check post route sent whistling downfield that propels a young man into glory and leadership. But first and foremost, we can't do anything to give this one away. Interceptions, flubbed handoffs, errant shotgun pitches, fumblies - that crap's gotta go, lest we be obliterated. And we have to keep moving the ball, any way we can. The fate of the offense will fall squarely upon its captain's shoulders.
7. The offensive line regains their jerseys from the aliens that kidnapped them last weekHoo boy. That was the one thing about the MSU game that really has me worried. It's not like Ziemba et al are any less talented than they were last year, or that State's that much better in the trenches. If we stage another holding festival, we are in serious trouble.
and while I'm on the O-line...
7b. Ricky Jean-Francois gets beat fair and square and shambles off to the locker room in shame... but with two healthy knees.
Chop blocks ain't Auburn.
8. Receivers. Catch. Nurr.
Second-most obvious item on this wish list - to have a truly effective passing game. At all.
9. Running backs hang on to the ball
Continuing the general theme of "at least don't give the ball game away." I think Tate, Smith, Fannin, and Davis (and Lester if he plays) will be more than sufficient if the passing game is working at all. That poor second-string linebacker is in more trouble than he knows. We just can't put the ball on the ground.
I really, really, hope to God that Tubby's got something up his sleeve. That last week's baseball game will give birth to the Spread Eagle in her full glory. That Franklin will give a great big chuckle as Mario Fannin rockets past some hapless white-jerseyed umbrella.
11. Les Miles continues to be mad as a hatter and unlike last year, it bites him in the ass.