Friday, November 26, 2010

Something a little different for the Iron Bowl . . .

Just for the Expats and the History Books . . . we'll attempt a running blog on the Iron Bowl. There may be awkward pauses and technological difficulties if I start throwing the laptop around like Charlie Sheen rearranging the hotel furniture, but otherwise, let's see how it goes.

If it proves too much, I'll say so. Saving journalism is one thing, but not at the cost of a compromised Auburn-Alabama game. I'm happy to discuss my priorities with the bosses the very moment they discover my hiding place.

So we're 20 minutes away from the telecast of the best rivalry in college football and the most important game of the year. Here's hoping it lives up to its billing and justifies the anxiety rising in me like a backed-up toilet. That will be my last bathroom image of the day, I swear. Everything else is on the table. Back in a few. War Eagle and Roll Tide.


... It's started... Alabama students offered tribute to Cam Newton . . . with paper money . . . as he came onto the field. So much for a nice, congenial atmosphere.

CBS is running a program called the Best of 2010. Why do I have the feeling that the best is yet to come. Just think about what's happening in this weekend alone.

CBS' pick for the Game of the Year: Illinois vs. Michigan. Which, given the score, was actually a high school basketball game in disguise. Note to CBS: The fact that both coaches involved in this Toon Town slugfest might lose their jobs tells you all you need to know. The Best Game has to count for something, even in the Big 10.

Who is Tim Brando blackmailing?

I've been joined by Basil Hayden. To his many friends, he says hello. We've grown particularly close on SEC Saturdays.

. . . First mistake by Verne . . . A lot of purists stopped calling it the Iron Bowl back in the '90s, when the game became home in home. If you never sat in Legion Field when the tickets were cut in half, well, that was something special. That was the Iron Bowl.

Wow, another shot of Cam Newton screaming and smiling for the cameras. That was an original piece of footage. Pretty soon somebody is going to develop a whole line of insurance commercials featuring a mouthy loud duck.

Gary says Fairley must dominate if Auburn is to win. Auburn has all the stars. Alabama has the crowd and Julio and if McElroy plays well, Alabama will be hard to beat. Tracy just popped on from the sideline wearing a really weird hat that looked like it came off the head of the kid who got his tongue stuck to the pole in "A Christmas Story.''

Here we go.

Julio!! Can I be your friend?

Reverse got 6. Verne called it a first down. Close enough, I guess.

This is impressive. Second and 3 will win a lot of games. Maybe even this one.

Julio! Can I make you dinner?

First bad call: I don't think that was interference, but who am I to second guess a trained professional?

My goodness. I just scared the dog. 7-0 Tide, and Ingram would still be running if he had to be. What a block by backup Anthony Steen. Great stand by the Auburn defense. Go get 'em Cam!!

11:34: AU's turn. And now we're about to learn alot about our afternoon. Why is Fairley walking to the locker room? And Newton just got racked for no gain.

Take that back, Alabama had 12 men on the field. Way to count, guys. Hightower again: Good night Michael Dyer. Three and out, even with the penalty.

MEANWHILE . . .Julio, can I cut your grass? 14-0.

Gary: "I have no explanation for this. The safeties didn't move. And they just let the best player in the country run by them."
The Auburn secondary can't cover, but they've done the impossible: Left Danielson at a loss for words.

Kickoff: Great effort by the Auburn kid. The Tigers have their field position. Until . . . MARCEL: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

ET Tu, COURTNEY?? Three and a resounding out!!

Auburn needs a play, from anybody; so far nobody has been close to making one.

JULIO! Can I do the dishes?

It's 14-0, and Auburn just made its first defensive play, a 2-yard gain by Trent Richardson.

JULIO! Can I clip the coupons? The guy is playing with a broken hand. What is he ROBOCOP?

Don't tell me the SEC wasn't watching last week: Weakest celebration penalty of the year. Followed up by a great throw and catch for a first down. This one's for you, Aaron Murray. McElroy, 10-10. The Rhodes Scholarship panel should reconsider.

Auburn getting into the game. Great tackle by Freeman.

JULIO! Can I take out the Recycling?

21-0: We are a couple of touchdowns from removing the memory of David Langer forever.

We've already seen Cam Newton stopped more times in this game than at anytime all season. Plus one! Three and out, otro vez.


--- Second period ---

Gary: "The most complete team, but they haven't produced" . . . . Perhaps, but that's the best quarter this team has played in two years.

Big one here: 3rd and 2. If Auburn holds, they get the ball and good field position. So much for that. Ingram for 5.

The Rhodes Scholar-Not, just went for 10. Most underrated player in the country.

A touchdown just became a touchback. "Hey may have saved the game for Auburn". Ingram's second lost fumble in 600 touches
was the ultimate hustle play -- The Big Carter kid just kept running. Ingram wouldn't go down. Carter wouldn't quit. Auburn just dodged the kill shot. For the first time, this Bama fan just gulped.

Auburn got 9. They are in position to get their first first down. Newton got it, but he took one in the chops. Auburn not moving with much pace at all right now. Just looks like a different team. Five Bama players waiting on that reverse. Big blitz, bad throw, Zachary can't hold it, followed by a 20 yard punt. Wonder what the Auburn chat boards are saying now? What's that Basil? Basil says sic Julio on them.

JULIO! Can I fold your clothes? What a throw by McElroy. First and goal.

A drop and a stop. And we are at the next crossroads. third and goal from just inside the 3. Incomplete. The first. Jeremy Shelley, who looks like a heavy drug user, just made it 24-0, and say what you will about missed opportunities, but when, my friends, is 24-0 ever bad??

There's the duck? What happened to Cam's smile? By the way, that was a great 4-yard run by Newton. It should have been for 1.

Big throw off the wrong foot. 20 yards and a first.

Another sack? What is going on?

Uh-oh. Auburn's in trouble. Gary just dropped Eric Crouch on them. 3 and 9, and this indeed may be the ballgame. What a catch by Kodi Burns. And Cam made another fine throw off the wrong foot. Auburn starting to grind. And BOOM!.

24-6, impressive throw, now 24-7. Gentleman, we are one Tiger stop from having a football game. As well as Alabama has played, there are 11 points lying inside the five-yard line. The running backs who never drop the ball fumbled away a touchdown and a sure TD pass when it had a chance to shut this game down early. An important 5 minutes.

And McElroy, on 3-7, just threw another dart for 10. Not that I'm greedy or anything. BUT WHERE THE HELL HAS THIS BEEN ALL YEAR?

JULIO? Can I flip the burgers? 174 yards in the first half. I have been in love with him for a long time. Now, I'm on my knees lighting incense.

Mr. Bell, the Auburn DB, just saved a TD. Everybody blocked and he dived through two blocks to stop Ingram. Auburn timeout. As an aside, this game seems like a mismatch but an Auburn stop here sets up a legitimate second half. 2nd and goal from the 7.

MAN! ANOTHER FUMBLE! That's 17 points just swept into the corner like old peanut shells. What a play by Fairley. And good thing the football wasn't a bomb or they'd need the dental records to ID Anthony Steen. 24-7 at half, and all I can think of is the missed chances. Gene Chizik being interviewed. Don't whine, Gene, you've been given at least two touchdowns.

My twin brother in Georgia has been texting me. In the beginning, there were a lot of animal sounds as Alabama thundered ahead. Later in the half, when Alabama's turnover parade began, the grunting and oinking was replaced by a barnyard ephithet. His repeated that one-word message, distinguished by a Roman numeral, with each setback. His grasp of Roman numerals is limited. So I'm a little worried about him as we enter the second half.

Speaking of second halfs: An interception turned 70 yard completion just became a breach in the wall. Has Frodo destroyed the ring? Is it possible that the White Wizard is an Auburn fan? My brother just used another Roman numeral. I think he has about 3 left. Inexplicably, it's 24-14. And Bama All-American Mark Barron has been victimized by both Auburn touchdowns.

Here we go. And it's Alabama at the 40. And suddenly it's third and 5. 4-1. Barely and gutty. First down.

Two good plays by the Auburn defense. They are selling out quicker than Colonial Bank shares. Another big moment. 3rd and 10. TV timeout. Fundamentalists cows selling chicken sandwiches again. Auburn makes its first stop. Alabama punting for the first time. Auburn is poised for another big Iron Bowl moment. Trooper Taylor just went airborne. Alabama punts.

Cam for 6. Felt like 60. Big run for 15 more. Third and 9. Newton time. Finally an Ala bama stop. Dareus and Hightower doing their job. Auburn punts. I'll take three more punts and call it a day.

Trench warfare. A sack and a blowdown. Auburn is fully engaged, and almost got that punt. We are midway through the third quarter. This is starting to remind me of the '94 game, when Alabama got off to a big lead, threw two end zone interceptions, and Auburn almost came all the way back.

First down Auburn. At midfield. And the Auburn offense is now flying up to the line. And now we have the hat trick: Alabama has its third substitution penalty. First down AU at the 33. 20 more to the 13. I swear I just saw Cam smile.

First and goal. What a fourth quarter we have facing us. And that makes it 24-20. Holy moly. Where's Julio? Where's my blankie? Basil, do something!

Now it's Alabama who has to make a play and JULIO, couldn't tuck it in. . 15 yards in the second half. Fourth down. A punt. KABOOOOOOOOOOOOM. FUMMMMMMBLLLLLLLLEEEE.

First down. JULIO . . . Can I bring some fresh flowers?

JULIO! Red or white?

Oh for heaven sakes. 2nd and 5 and we don't run the ball. 3 is barely better than nothing. Four trips inside the 10 and 6 points. That's the worst return since the Stimulus Plan. 27-21. Auburn is on the rise. And for the first time all day, Bryant-Denny sounds muffled.

The last play of the third quarter is upon us. Auburn is across midfield. Do I see four fingers? Will somebody give me the 4 fingers?
Basil just gave me one.

FOURTH QUARTER DEAD AHEAD 15 minutes: a kind of paltry difference between true happiness and a trip to a very dark room.

This, my friends, is theater. We have our first third down. And Auburn will go on 4th. Fourth and 3. And here they go. Malzahn has a smug look on his face. Tracy Rocker is trying to talk Gene out of it. Malzahn acts as if he's already made it and is busy calling his first-down play. Time for the gecko.

And Auburn is indeed going. I hate Malzahn. Fake quick kick, then a pass. first down. Newton for another first down.
Dyer free for the first time all day to the 15. Dyer for 5 more, but he got away with motion.

Third down, 11 plays in the drive. That damn L-word just caught another one. And we now have a new leader. Newton slips a sack, and dropped it to his tight end. 28-27 AUBURN. Say what you want about Alabama letting them off the hook, Auburn is now trashing the flipping boat. We are on the cusp of the greatest Auburn victory of all time . . . but did they score too quickly?
We're about to find out.

We ran the ball twice. I'm glad I'm sitting down. First down time. Under 11 to go. They just showed Ted Roof, the Auburn defensive coordinator. Hey Ted: Think Duke!

So suddenly we have Julio Jones and Darius Hanks on the bench. We have Kevin Norwood and the big Alexander kid in as replacements. We just made a first down and had it taken away. That was a questionable call. Followed up by an incredible play by Marquis Maze. We have inches. I'm tired of all these Angry Inches. Josh Bynes just about broke McElroy in two, but we have a first down. 8 minutes left.

Trooper is waving his towel, and Ingram just busted it for 10. First down. And now it's second down. Five guys waiting for Ingram around left end. Looked like an ambush scene from The Wire.

Speaking of ambushes: McElroy flung down like a hay bale on third down. His right shoulder, however, is not made of hay. Punting time. Five and half minutes left, and as Joseph H. Banks hawks his wares, McElroy looks like he'd have trouble slipping into a 46 long. A.J. McCarron, your time is at hand. Mr. McElroy appears to not know where he is.

Our young punter just hit a shank that would make a 25-handicapper proud. Alabama needs a stop. Newton for 2. Newton gets 3 when there was nothing there. 3rd and five. 4 minutes. And a blast up the middle. What speed for a big man. First down Auburn. Alabama will get the ball back, at best, with under 2 minutes. Fourth down and inches, and they're going again.

Newton almost fumbled, but he went airborne for the first. Under 3.

Stop on first down. Last Alabama timeout. Auburn is making all the plays. Their offense and coaches have been superb. And the defense has beaten its way back. 2nd and 12. McCalebb for 3. Approaching 2 minutes. This is the ball game. Timeout Auburn.

Fourth down, but Alabama will not get the ball back until a minute left and with a backup quarterback. A.J. McCarron, your date with history is at the front door. Julio has his helmet on.

51 seconds. the 18 yard line. Alabama needs about 45 yards. Julio is on the field, no timeouts. Fairley in McCarron's face. 2nd Down.

McCarron threw into triple coverage. What will Saban hit him with this time, an axe? Kevin Norwood, who will be a good player, just dropped a sure first down.

Auburn on the cusp. Fourth down. Ballgame. Life as we know it has been inexorably changed. God love the SEC. The greatest win in Auburn's history. And there goes Cam hamming for the cameras again. He's earned it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, folks! Want to watch the game with you next year! Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

You have great perspective and writing chops!