By Hunter Ford
At least for this Alabama fan, a state championship this season would mean more than any other title the Tide could earn.
Alabama has leaped in the polls after mauling Clemson to begin the year and, last Saturday, blacking the eyes of the dark-shirted Georgia Bulldogs.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, Iâ€™m as giddy as any red-blooded Bama fan. Iâ€™ve got images of SEC titles and national crowns dancing in front of my crimson-colored glasses.
But if I were presented with one guarantee, and one only, for this season, I would rather see a victory over Auburn than anything else.
Imagine if Alabama were to run the table going into the Auburn game. Imagine if an SEC championship visit was locked prior to the Iron Bowl. If Auburn won, and Alabama went on to win the SEC title, the Tide could conceivably still find itself in Miami playing for a BCS Title.
How hollow would that be if we Tide fans still had to contend with pesky Aubies flying around our heads waving seven fingers in our faces?
There is still a lot of football to be played this season.
Many Auburn fans feel terrible this week, after watching their sick offense struggle against a wretched Tennessee team. They got a compound fracture when they watched Alabama mangle Georgia.
The Aubie wounds would mend in miraculous fashion if their Tigers managed to blemish Alabamaâ€™s so far magical season.
For all the frustration that Auburn fans are suffering through right now, the reality is this- Auburn has lost one close game to last yearâ€™s national champ and this seasonâ€™s SEC West co-leader.
LSU won the national crown last season after getting bumped on the head twice. The Bayou Tigers lost last season to an inferior Arkansas team, and to Alabamaâ€™s next opponent (Kentucky) before trouncing Ohio State.
Auburn is not likely to move far enough in the polls this season to make the BCS Championship. Auburn is not likely to overcome its disabilities and play in the SEC Championship either. But Auburn could play the role that Arkansas and Kentucky played last season.
Vanderbilt is leading the SEC East. Ole Miss blocked an extra point to preserve a win over Florida in the Swamp last Saturday. Most anything imaginable can and probably will happen before the regular season is over.
Auburn plays the SEC East leader Vanderbilt next week. Can I type SEC East leader Vanderbilt again just for effect?
Following the Tigerâ€™s tilt with the Commodores, Auburn will face an impotent Arkansas team, then take a week off before playing a non-conference game against a watered- down West Virginia.
In spite of the toothless offensive attack, Auburn will be competitive in every game, and should be feared for its razor sharp defensive play.
The Tigersâ€™ monstrous defense has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat twice this young season and is capable of more.
As for Alabama, it is really hard for me to find fault with a team that has played with such inspiration thus far.
The Tulane game was not close enough to make me lose sleep. The fact that Georgia scored 17 unanswered points in the second half doesnâ€™t frighten me. The Tide wiped away that apparition when it drove for a clinching field goal and banged the nail in the coffin with a fourth quarter touchdown.
As an Alabama fan, the dream of another SEC and national championship is inviting. And the boogeyman of six Auburn victories still haunts me. Winning an SEC and/or national championship while still losing to Auburn is not unimaginable to me. But it is more than I want to bear.