So Auburn lost last night. Some might say the last-second loss was poetic justice for the two last-second wins against Georgia and Alabama— if that’s what you think, whatever. I had been saying as far back as early November that I would be happy with this season, no matter when the winning ended. And I am!
But the winning didn’t end when many people thought it would. Auburn beat Georgia, and then-#1 Alabama, and then-#5 Missouri to win the SEC championship. Thankfully, Michigan State beat Ohio State – we ‘ppreciate it, boys! – for us to play in the BCS national championship game. Auburn ends the season 12-2, a staggering improvement from last year’s four-win season that included an embarrassing 0-8 record in the SEC. Auburn’s players, coaches, students and fans have plenty to celebrate!
As a die-hard Auburn fan, though, I have to make a few excuses for my team this morning. Notwithstanding several gratuitous instances of holding and pass interference that didn’t get called (against both teams), two instances caused Auburn to lose that game: first, the leg cramp on the kickoff that allowed that fast little joker to take it 100 yards, and second, the touchdown that was allowed on the screen pass because the Auburn defensive back dove ridiculously at the guy’s legs instead of shoving him out of bounds. Take away those two touchdowns, and Auburn had that game.
I also thoroughly enjoyed listening to Herbstreit’s and Musberger’s absolute astonishment at how little offense Florida State could muster against Auburn. ESPN kept flashing up comparisons to Winston’s season averages versus his play against Auburn. Just about every SEC game I’ve watched has had either Danielson-and-Verne or Blackledge-and-that other guy as commentators, but I guess Herbstreit and Musberger pulled rank and got the sweet assignment in sunny So Cal (while the rest of us froze our butts back east). However, it was abundantly clear that the only team on the field that they knew anything about was Florida State.
In the end of course, the scoreboard, not the defensive shutdown of a Heisman Trophy winner, dictates the winner of the game. And Florida State’s touchdown with 0:13 left made them national champs . . . However, Auburn led on the scoreboard for most of the game, we finished at #2, and we are SEC champs!
Here’s the skinny on how the teams from the SEC, and others from the Deep South, fared in the final rankings. Both the SEC and the Deep South, taken separately or together, have a significant showing in the national top-25.
#4 South Carolina
#5 Missouri (SEC but not in the Deep South)
#8 Clemson (ACC, in the Deep South)
#18 Texas A&M (SEC but not in the Deep South)
As one final word about greatness, I would challenge anybody to do something as they walk away with the heuristic reality that Florida State is the undefeated national champs. Go get a copy of FSU’s schedule and of Auburn’s schedule, and see how many ranked teams each team played, and what the resulting scores were. You will notice that the majority of FSU’s opponents in 2013 weren’t ranked at any point in the season, while 9 of Auburn’s 14 opponents were. Just sayin’ . . .