Auburn Recap: The Score Says We Crushed Em

Man, the Iron Bowl happens in another dimension, doesn’t it?

Even now that we know the outcome, and we’ve had time to let it all settle, and we’ve convinced ourselves that it is, in fact, reality, the clip above is still freaking surreal. I’m still unsure if physics even matters in the Iron Bowl or if its the laws or equations apply. What, for example, is the net force of anything if the magnitudes of its contributing forces refuse to be calculated or known?

The Iron Bowl is human folly at its strongest and strangest and most base. In the Iron Bowl, anger and fear and hope and hopelessness all mix in such a way that we emerge with what is a mind-altering cocktail served up in an Icehouse can.

Screw Newton’s Laws. Screw air resistance and free fall. Screw gravity itself.

Here’s an image that I think perfectly sums it all up:

It’s the famous dolly zoom from an early scene in Jaws, the camera zooming in while a dolly simultaneously pulls it back from its subject (Roy Scheider). If that’s not the Iron Bowl, I don’t know what is: a mix of forces, a warped illusion, a cracked funhouse mirror. If you thought you knew what was actual or right, I hope you came prepared for all that to change. In the Iron Bowl, your sense of reality survives solely on your determination not to leave it behind entirely.

I’ve come to these thoughts about the Iron Bowl since I moved away from Tuscaloosa to a place where nobody really cares about the game unless it has some meaning on the national scale or Kirk Herbstreit and his cronies are revving up the hype machine (which looks strangely like this):

And I’ve never discussed this with an Auburn fan, so I wonder if they realize how Auburn always comes into this game as bizzaro Auburn. Do they see this game as wacky and strange as we do? Do they realize their team has always been replaced by cyborgs at the last minute? And, where does our perception of the game meet theirs, and does that intersection at all represent what’s actually happening on the field? Maybe our two perceptions don’t meet, can’t meet, and that’s the problem. The game happens in two simultaneous space-time continuums, not parallel, exactly, but veering away.

As I was watching the game last night, I was thinking about when I played tennis in college. I always played best against those I wasn’t supposed to beat, and, once in a while I actually beat them. Usually, though, I just played above my head and hit shots I had no business hitting and ran faster than I’d ever run before. The guys on the other side of the net couldn’t believe it. They got mad, threw rackets, thought it was their fault and that they were playing down to me. Neither of us understood how someone so outmatched could compete. It didn’t seem possible.

But I think the me that was playing was another dimension of myself, where I wasn’t even playing as myself but with a different looseness, a different concentration. It wasn’t the best I could be, I wasn’t “in the zone,” I was better. Belief is a powerful thing in sports, but belief didn’t even play into it. It was like I wasn’t even part of the competition; I was just playing and I wasn’t thinking about winning or losing. I played as if I was totally ignorant of the fact that there was supposed to be an outcome, and that’s what made my game so powerful. Could something like this be what’s going on with Auburn?

THE GAME

At some point, I think Saban learned he couldn’t take chances against Auburn. Maybe it wasn’t that long ago. Maybe it was Pick Six:

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In the Iron Bowl, anything Alabama does that’s even slightly past vanilla has at least the same chance of blowing up in our faces as it does at being successful. It’s not physics, as I said above; it defies it. It’s a different world where none of what happened before or since matters, and the narrative’s have been scratched off the disk, and gravity’s a little lighter, and etcetera etcetera.

But in this game, we also got exactly what we wanted: We wanted a win and got it. We wanted Bama to “Run the dang ball!!” and we got 46 carries by Derrick Henry for 279 yards. We wanted defense and our defense held Auburn to 260 yards, only 183 when subtracting that 77-yard tip and catch. We got field goals too (fundamentals!) with Adam Griffith going 5 for 5. We also got a betting win for DixPix and hopefully a happy and carb-filled cheat day for BOliu. We got, basically, what we’ve always wanted, what we’ve always called for, but I, at least, didn’t feel satisfied. That’s how the freaking Iron Bowl works. There is no satisfaction; instead, there’s only relief with a slight undercurrent of pain.

THE SEASON

It’s been a pretty good regular season, though it certainly wasn’t the perfect one I promised. Hopefully, we’ve still got three postseason games remaining, and we certainly have a great chance to go to the playoff. Florida this year looks worse than Missouri last year, and during the Florida/Florida St. game last night even the announcers were miffed at how bad Florida was. Georgia’s probably the best team in the SEC east, and that’s pretty awful. In the deep West, I think we have teams like A&M and Arkansas that could probably give Iowa a game and possibly beat them.

I end my recaps of the regular season with stats. On defense, Alabama finished:

1st in rushing defense
2nd in total defense
3rd in sacks
3rd in scoring defense
5th in pass efficiency defense
4th in first down defense
Tied for 6th in defensive TDs
8th in third down percentage defense
17th in interceptions
24th in tackles for a loss
61st in Red Zone Defense

The day after the Iron Bowl is my favorite day because it’s the longest it can possibly be before the next Iron Bowl.

Alabama 29 — Auburn 13