Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Iron Bowl: Why each team will win

Peter St. Onge and I used to have an annual bet on the Auburn game: He'd wager a Boston Butt smoked in Lower Alabama by a guy named Melvin. I'd put up some ribs from Dan "The Pig Man" Huntley of York County. And, out of fear of jinxing ourselves in the biggest game of the year, we almost always bet on the other team.

Because wagering in any form is a sin, we decided on a new twist this time around. As the Auburn fan, Pete will tell you why ALABAMA will win; and I, loaded up with Maalox, will argue Auburn's case.

He just filed his portion from Monroeville, Ala., hometown to Harper Lee and Peter's lovely wife Courtney. Mine comes straight from the hip.

1. Cam Newton will play, and Cam Newton suddenly makes Tim Tebow look like an Elvis impersonator instead of the real King.

2. Nick Fairley will also play, so will Josh Bynes. This gives Auburn three of the best position players in the SEC. Yes, its pass defense stinks, but Auburn just hits harder.

3. Auburn is an improving team. Those who point to the Tigers' close wins against Kentucky, Mississippi State, Clemson and South Carolina, miss an important point: Auburn is a lot better now.

4. The Tigers, like just about every Alabama opponent this year, had two weeks to prepare. That cuts into the Tide's home field advantage, which will still be daunting. Bryant-Denny Stadium will be unlike any atmosphere Auburn has faced all year.

5. Face it, Alabama is just not that good. The Tide still hasn't played a complete game. When Nick Saban had two weeks to come up with a plan for his return visit to Baton Rouge, his players couldn't execute it. Sure they'll play their guts out Friday, but guts alone doesn't get you to the finish line. Talent does. And the most talented team -- I think I'm about to be sick -- is Auburn.

Five reasons Tide fans will remain insufferable for another year:

1) Alabama is LSU with a good offense.

2) Alabama is Arkansas with a good defense.

3) What I'm trying to say: Auburn has not faced a team as balanced as the Tide. Alabama brings the kind of quickness on offense that has troubled a Tiger defense that tends to overpursue - plus an ability to put together the kind of time-sucking drives that rattle teams which like to put a perpetual foot on the gas.

The Tide defense has flaws, certainly, and Auburn should exploit those for at least a few scores. But this game will come down to stops, and Alabama is better equipped to get more of them.

4) The player at the center of Auburn's off-the-field turmoil also was the one who seemed least affected by it against Georgia. Cam Newton shined early and late against the Bulldogs, but his teammates didn't. The Tigers were somewhere between tight and too hyped for much of the first half, and the game almost got away because of it. Now, Auburn must push aside the same turmoil, plus overcome the pressure of participating in the state's biggest event, plus do it all in a harsh road environment.

5) Alabama, like Auburn a year ago, is burdened with very little coming into this game. Expect the Tide to fly around the field, feed off the home crowd, and play like a team that simply wants the joy of a rivalry win.

Wow, that was way too easy of an exercise.

- Peter St. Onge


kamasutra movie said...

Cool, iron Bowl time again! Can't wait for this one. Been waiting for this one all year long. I go for Boston because obviously I hate Alabama. But I just don't care which team triumphs, I only love to watch the beautiful game of football. Always loved football especially the amateur ones. Can't wait for this one to start. Will be a couch potato as this time!