Auburn’s Cinderella Season Continues

 

2013 sec champs

 

I normally do not blog so much about sports, but my school has given me a lot to talk about this fall.

On Saturday, the Auburn Tigers improved their record to 12-1 with an amazing SEC Championship Game versus the Missouri Tigers. I was nervous about this one because Mizzou was ranked fifth in the country and 11-1. The teams put on quite a show, scoring touchdown after touchdown. You really got a sense that if one of them scored, the other had to respond in the next series. It made for an exciting ballgame to watch. Auburn scored 59 points, Mizzou scored 42.

Some 75,632 fans were on hand to watch Auburn Running Back Tre Mason set a championship game record with 304 yards (breaking LSU’s Justin Vincent’s previous 2003 record of 201 yards), touchdown record with four touchdowns, rushing attempts record with 46 carries, and was named the game’s most valuable player.

One amazing thing about the game was neither Auburn nor Missouri were bowl-eligible in 2012. Mizzou had a record of 5-7 (2-6 SEC) and Auburn was 3-9 (no SEC wins). Since the SEC Championship Game began in 1992, LSU and Auburn are tied for third-most appearances in the title game at three.

The winner of the game the last seven seasons has gone on to play for the BCS National Championship Game… and WON!

We were afraid that wouldn’t happen this time, but Michigan State gave us a hand, knocking off No. 2 Ohio State!

BCSlogo

That’s right! Auburn is headed to the BCS National Championship Game January 6, 2014 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California! We will play Florida State. This will be the 16th and final time the top two teams will automatically play for the Bowl Championship Series before the implementation of a four-team college football playoff system. Auburn previously played for the title in 2010 and won versus Oregon.

This will be the fifth year in a row that a team from the state of Alabama has played for the BCS national title. In fact, the last time a team from the state of Alabama DIDN’T play in the national championship game:

  • – George W. Bush was still president.
  • – Michael Jackson and Patrick Swayze were still alive.
  • – Conan O’Brien was still on NBC.
  • – MADtv was still on television.
  • – Kanye hadn’t interrupted Taylor.
  • – Oprah still had a TV show.
  • – Charles Gibson was reading the news instead of Diane Sawyer.
  • – Sean Hannity didn’t have a show on Fox News, and Glenn Beck worked for CNN.
  • – Glee, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Dr. Oz, The Jeff Dunham Show, and The Cleveland Show weren’t yet aired.
  • – I worked for Savvy.com!

Alabama and Auburn fans don’t always get along, but that’s a pretty remarkable run that clearly isn’t over. I’m glad Auburn could do its part a couple of those years.

How remarkable is this year’s Auburn Tiger squad? Here are some interesting facts about my alma mater’s football team:

  • – Auburn has won nine consecutive games, with five of those wins coming against ranked opponents, including three against the top 10.
  • – Auburn has three wins against Top 10 teams, including consecutive wins against the No. 1 and No. 5 teams in the country.
  • – Auburn has the highest strength of schedule of any of the teams in the top six of the BCS standings.
  • – No other team in college football this season has defeated two top-five teams.
  • – Ten of Auburn’s 13 opponents are bowl eligible, the most of any team in the top 10 of the BCS standings.
  • – Auburn has reached No. 2 after rising from unranked in the preseason when it did not receive a single vote in the USA Today or AP polls.

Despite all of this, FSU is deemed a 7-point favorite in the BCS title game. Haters are already saying that Auburn’s defense doesn’t stand a chance against the Seminoles’ powerful offense. Yeah, we are used to shocking people like that…

Shock

Losing isn’t easy. Trust me, I was an Auburn fan last year! I would’ve been happy with bowl eligibility and a moral victory in the Iron Bowl! Talk about surpassing expectations!!!

While some Bama fans have been gracious in social media, offering congratulations and encouragement for the task ahead, I’m already seeing others post things such as “Noles Tide Noles” and so forth. Undoubtedly, the same creeps who did the Alabama logo in Oregon colors in 2010. I’m grateful for my Alabama friends who are supportive. They salvage the image of a program that the bunch of Updykes among the bunch work their hardest to brand as among the most obnoxious fan base in America. Some people can’t handle winning. You know that saying, “It is not enough for me to win, you must also lose?” Yeah, that describes those people. They’ll never let Auburn people enjoy a moment of glory. Never ever ever. So why do we even care what they think or say?

I hope Auburn folks aren’t like that under the brighter days that I hope continue under Gus Malzahn. I’m proud as hell of Auburn’s players, but we the fans do not need to become arrogant, especially when one play and one second is all that prevented us from going into overtime against an Alabama team that undoubtedly has more talent on the roster and probably would have won. I will concede that point, although I won’t concede that luck alone has gotten Auburn back on top so fast. To dismiss this achievement as a fluke or luck is to insult the hard work our players put into strength conditioning and executing to the best of their ability on the field.

People tend to get their feathers ruffled when they see rival fans callously post comments that are derogatory about their beloved teams. But it’s a free country, and we can post whatever we want in our social media. I don’t begrudge any Alabama fan who admits they hate Auburn and it won’t break their hearts if we lose because, to be honest, I’ve felt the same about them. Nothing personal, but when you wear that Crimson sweater and throw 15 national championships in my face, I immediately want to deflate you with the revelation that half of those… never mind, I don’t wanna get into a shouting match with anyone.

Here where I live, one of Florida State’s coaches is a guy named Jeremy Pruitt who coached at my local high school alma mater. Kudos to him. I wish him much success at FSU. Just not right now ha ha.

Anyway, I appreciate those who mask their contempt for Auburn with humility, but I do not require anyone’s approval to feel proud of what my school’s football team has accomplished, nor their consent to feel good about myself as a human being who worked hard and earned a degree from Auburn University. They’re both great schools and, this year at least, both have outstanding, elite football programs. It’s fun to watch. Graduates from these universities can both be proud of the quality education we received while we argue over which school’s coaches and players could whip the other on a football field.

One thing I learned in 2010 is if people are poking at you and trying to get a reaction from you, it means you’re a WINNER. And you shouldn’t let people who are jealous of your success get under your skin. Everybody targets you when you’re the best in the game. How you handle it defines you. I’m simply going to ignore it like the noise pollution that it is.

War Eagle!

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P.S.: A word of thanks to the FSU fan who corrected me on the date of the Florida/Oklahoma game. It’s always confusing that they crown the BCS game’s winner under the previous fall’s year rather than the current, newer one they play during. Appreciate the head’s up. I could have done with a little less condescension, but hey, glad to fix the error, pal. 

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Written by Steven Stiefel