In a shocking turn of events, Auburn won’t have to face a team that’s at full strength.
The news of LSU’s suspension of three key players for their game with Auburn this weekend actually isn’t shocking at all.
It’s straight from the Auburn script.
Dad told me about a thing called Auburn luck as a child; few things in my life have substantiated themselves time and time again like this phenomenon.
But there may never be a program who benefits from the misgivings of its opponents like Auburn University. Like the sucker fish that swims along side a shark, Auburn stands by and receives crumbs of charity like no one else.
Just this season, in no particular order:
• Florida quarterback John Brantley is injured against ‘Bama on a play that should’ve never happened, had the officials correctly awarded a fumble to Alabama on the previous play. Brantley goes down the next play and isn’t available when the Gators face Auburn. In a painfully agonizing game to watch, Auburn barely scrapes by a team with no quarterback. If Brantley plays, Florida (who isn’t the fierce Florida of old) wins by two touchdowns. Oh, and Jeffrey Demps, part 2 of Florida’s speedy running back combo, misses the game with injury as well.
• Auburn faces South Carolina, a team with seven quarterbacks on the roster but in the midst of a continual cognitive dissonance in the mind of head coach Steve Spurrier when it comes to his infatuation with multi-year starter but under achiever, QB Stephen Garcia. The Cocks’ QB play in their game with Auburn is horrid as Garcia and Auburn QB Barrett Trotter battle it out to see who can throw the most balls in the dirt. Auburn scrapes by with the ugly win. USCe kicks Garcia off the team the next week and the Gamecocks look like a new team with their new QB, Connor Shaw. If Shaw would’ve gotten the start and performed as he has the last two weeks, the Gamecocks beat Auburn by at least a touchdown.
• Then you have team implosions that happen on a regular basis, like Utah State looking like they didn’t know onside kicks were legal, and Dan Mullen again choking all over himself when facing the Tigers.
• Now LSU welcomes Auburn to Death Valley missing a major part of their running game and a Heisman Trophy contender in the secondary and special teams; easily these losses are the difference in at least a touchdown for the Bengal Tigers. LSU should still curb stomp Auburn, but yet again it’s an opponent that puts the game on a lower shelf that Auburn can reach, rather than facing Auburn at full strength. Oh, and we’ll just all be shocked if these players are back on Nov. 5, won’t we?
But it’s not just this season; a couple of quick remembrances:
• The famous 2005 “eleven sack game” against Auburn came as a direct result of ‘Bama’s starting center being injured the previous game against Mississippi State. Lack of both depth and an able replacement at center, the most important position on the line, especially on the road in a hostile environment, created havoc that the Tigers stumbled into and benefitted from, free of charge.
• In 2007, Alabama’s lone playmaker, Javier Arenas, sustained a high ankle sprain against Louisiana-Monroe, again the week before Auburn. Saban was working with former head coach Mike Shula’s players in this year with few weapons at his disposal. ‘Bama lost 17-10 the following week to Auburn, though Arenas, who finished with multiple punt and kick-off returns for touchdowns, could have been the difference. Even with Saban’s steller recruiting, Alabama has had few players like Arenas who could flip the field so quickly on special teams.
After seeing Gene Chizik drob two F-bombs on the sidelines against Clemson on national television, the clergy-like status so many Auburn fans want to bestow upon him has made me chuckle.
But seeing how many breaks Auburn seems to be handed, well…now I’m not so sure. Maybe it is a God thing.
Still, it would embarrass me to no end if my football program had to count on others’ missteps, mistakes and misgivings to be competitive. I’d rather win like Alabama, where your team comes in at full strength and still gets pounded into oblivion.
But don’t be surprised if Auburn doesn’t eek-out a win in Death Valley this weekend while the opponent at hand isn’t at full strength. It’s the Auburn way.
Just don’t ask Auburn fans to admit it.