My uncle and I were talking earlier this week about the 1993 season. He and my Aunt came in for the Iron Bowl that year to witness the perfect finish to a perfect season. Although he was thoroughly entertained with the celebration in Jordan-Hare, I was ready to eat a really big meal and sleep for weeks.
There were no bowls, no championship games, and no polls that really mattered for Auburn that year. An NCAA probation kept the Tigers home dreaming about the next decade with a Bowden as head coach. It was a gift season for Auburn fans after witnessing a painful end to the Pat Dye Era.
Fast forward to this season, it’s similar and opposite at the same time: Tommy Tuberville’s end wasn’t as painful but every bit as disappointing. For the most part Gene Chizik came in unwelcome unlike Terry Bowden who was celebrated before the first game was played in 1993. Bowden used Dye’s players and coaches to go 20-1-1 his first two seasons. Chizik rebuilt the coaching staff and went to work adding new talent on day one. Bowden went from hero to goat. Chizik, well, no one except the hiring manager thought it would look this sweet in less than two years.
The win last night in Oxford was sweet. It’s time we start believing. Auburn took a few good punches early before demonstrating to Houston Nutt and the Rebels/Bears just where his rightful place is in the SEC West. This week Cam Newton played the position he’s listed as on the roster plus a new one. Auburn’s offense truly looks unstoppable. Auburn’s defense plays a supporting role, stopping opponents just enough to keep Cam and Co. scoring. This is the “doesn’t look pretty” winning formula.
My favorite Auburn site, the War Eagle Reader, posts a weekly “Schedule Stockwatch”. It’s a gut check on the remaining schedule and look back at the conquered. Here’s my take on what’s in store for the Tiger’s remaining few games:
- Chattanooga. I’m tempted to make the trek to the Plains this coming week even if I have to drive all night. Why this game? It is the cheapest ticket left on the schedule and I’m eager to see the future Tigers get some action. The big questions for this week will be when will the second and third teams start to play or will Auburn rotate the depth chart to evaluate its future stars? Don’t expect 60 points. Do expect the defense to get some added work.
- Georgia. If you asked me last week about my worry level on this game I would have told you it was off the charts, maybe more so than Alabama. The Dawgs loss to Florida combined with Auburn’s win is making me feel better. Georgia will score some points. Georgia will not stop Auburn from scoring. I’m feeling a similar affair to what we witnessed yesterday in Oxford which will be a welcome relief from this series.
- Iron Bowl. If the bammers can win in Baton Rouge, this should be the biggest game in the State’s history. Alabama was undefeated and on their way to a National Title game before losing at Auburn in 1989, the first time the series was ever played in Auburn. If Alabama enters this game with only the one loss, this game will be for all the marbles: state, conference, and nation. No doubt this is Auburn’s most difficult challenge remaining but I believe Auburn to have the edge. I’ll save my comments on this one until we get closer to game week.
My nerves are thinning out. Ole Miss was what I considered the last hurdle on our way to the Iron Bowl. Sure the oldest rivalry in the Deep South awaits us in two weeks but in all likelihood Auburn should take care of that game as long as it stays focused. All else should slide into place too if this team continues to improve. The SEC and BCS title games are within sight.
Happy Halloween and War Eagle!