An outsider’s perspective is always a good thing, right? It allows for an unbiased view as to how successful or unsuccessful a particular operation or scheme or project may be.
Now, most would argue that an Alabama fan taking in the Auburn-LSU game is not very unbiased. Some would even argue that it is like enemy troops coming into camp to spy things out.
Oh, on the contraire my friend. I had no dog in the fight.
Because I was with a friend who is an Auburn fan, I chose to remain neutral and take in the game in its entirety, with no emotion for either side. I wondered how this would happen as the time drew near but was surprised as to how unemotional I was for each side.
I simply wanted to see a great football game—and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
Upon entering campus, several things jumped out at me.
First, although I had been on campus twice before, this was the first game day experience, so I could actually get a real feel for it for the first time. It was different.
Maybe I wasn’t used to the way everything was laid out. You see, in T-Town I walk down the streets and see houses leading all the way up to the stadium. There are stores pretty close to the stadium. And who could overlook Greenwood Cemetery, a site you can actually see from the upper deck levels of Bryant-Denny?
The whole scenery was just different.
Second, fans from many different schools were there. Most notably were the Tide fans present. Even though I am one, I had better sense than to walk down the streets of Auburn in my crimson shirt Saturday night, yet there were about 10 of them hanging around campus. I’m not sure if that was boastfulness from the big win earlier that afternoon or just plain stupidity.
Well, they weren’t the only ones. UGA faithful were in full force too, with a couple of fans hanging around. I believe I saw one other, but can’t remember off the top of my head right now which fan it was. Nevertheless, it was crazy.
One car in particular was sporting a Georgia tag, Auburn flag, Bama flag, and UGA flag. Is that even possible? “Wow” was my only reaction.
Third, the pregame festivities are different. It seemed really random at some points in the afternoon, but overall everyone was just taking it easy, I suppose, having the lay-off in between GameDay and Tiger Walk.
Tiger Walk was pretty good, I’ll admit. Nothing great about it, but just a tradition that allows you to slap hand with every player on the team, and even Tubs himself, which I did. Yes, I said it. I slapped hands with Tuberville.
My friend asked if I would ever wash that hand again. I said, “No, I’m probably gonna cut it off and burn it.”
Well, it was all in good fun. I almost said “Roll Tide” when I did it. But hey, I like my body intact the way it is. Plus, there again you have that “troops in the enemy camps” feeling going on. It was kind of like giving Auburn the black mark before the game.
Other teams have their walk. The Walk of Champions at Tide games doesn’t have gates to keep fans back, but you also can’t get as close to the players. That may not be a bad thing, to be honest. I mean, can you imagine how long it would take Saban and the players to get in the stadium?
I’m not exaggerating—Bama’s walk has had a lot more people lined up for it than I saw at Auburn’s. Most fans were still hanging out watching the widescreens and cooking burgers while all of this was going on. They were not ready, I guess, to come out and cheer on their team yet. Oh well, they made up for it inside the stadium.
Ticket sales continued until we went in, an hour and a half before kickoff. They were going for as much as $500 a pair that soon before the game. That didn’t surprise me. It was, after all, the game of the week.
These are just a few of the pregame activities. On a scale of one to 10, I’d give it a seven.
Inside the stadium didn’t feel quite as big as others I have been to. I know they seat only about 5,000 less than Bryant-Denny, but it felt a lot smaller. That could have an impact on the noise level, because it got loud! As loud as any game I’ve ever been to, and it was loud from start to finish.
The noise also might have something to do with the layout of the stadium being different. Either way, the stadium filled quickly, yet few took their seats.
We had seats in the end zone opposite the jumbo screen. They were 18 rows from the field. They were not low enough to miss anything and just high enough to see it all. I guess it helps to have family ties to get such great seats.
The intro to the game with the band and dancers marching around the field was good college football fun, as was Nova, the eagle of choice to fly around before kickoff. That is a unique part of Auburn’s football history. I’m just surprised some hunter from the stands doesn’t shoot it down some day. Anyway...
The game started slow. Then the bafflement of Auburn’s play call and decision-making set in.
In the first quarter Tubs called for time to ice the LSU kicker on a field goal attempt. I guess after the MSU game he was afraid of any points going up by the opposition. But hey, Tubs! This is the first quarter! If you are that scared of your offense then you need to go back home. Have some confidence in your Tigers, Ears.
LSU’s field goal was their lone score of the first half—unless you give them credit for the INT gift they gave away just before half.
It looked like Auburn had things in hand. I felt confident the game was far from over but still thought Auburn would hold LSU’s woeful first half offense to little or no points in half number two. But then all doubt was removed, and I began to realize that LSU had a chance.
This took place as I was taking care of some business at halftime. The guy at the urinal next to me, an Auburn fan, was talking to the guy on the other side of him. His words were something to the tune of, "We're gonna be all right. We are gonna get things going. We're gonna be all right. We just got to...well...well, you know. It's gonna be all right."
The second half for Auburn went as shaky as the tone in that guy's voice!
LSU looked to be finished when Andrew Hatch went stumbling to the sidelines. Auburn’s defense was looking pretty strong.
But then came in Jarrett Lee. And who, honestly now, would have thought he was going to lead them back? Hands, anyone?
This kid deserves all the credit for keeping his composure. He got hit, and hit hard! He went down but got right back up.
LSU showed grit and determination. Auburn, on the other hand, showed a lack of depth. They looked tired toward the end of the game, especially the defense on LSU’s touchdown winning drive.
A busted play that I think Auburn got lucky on was the only thing that kept them in it. That long pass got them within range to put up another touchdown. That busted play showed a weak spot for LSU as well.
LSU is a pretty good team, possibly great, but we’ll see about all of that on Oct. 11.
Overall, the game would receive a grade of an A-. LSU and Auburn both showed some weak spots but ultimately were pretty competitive and put on a great college football performance.
The puzzling thing is that as improved as Auburn did look against the defending national champions, people are still calling for Franklin and Tuberville’s heads. Why? LSU was predicted to win by what, three points? They won by five. Why is that such a surprise to Auburn fans?
I guess what really crawls the Auburn fans are two plays in particular. First, the play action pass on fourth down that was intercepted. Why not at least attempt a field goal at that point? Hey, remember Tubs, that’s how you beat Florida last year.
Auburn was up at that point and could have possibly put LSU out of it. But instead Auburn threw an interception down around the five-yard line or so.
Auburn fans said that was as good as a punt to pin them deep, but I disagreed. I thought a field goal attempt would have been the smarter move. But then again, I don’t get paid millions to play call and recruit 17-year-olds.
The second play of the game that got under the Auburn fanbase’s skin was the pass on second down on the Auburn drive immediately preceding LSU’s last drive. Why not run the ball and kill the clock? It may have not made a difference in the whole scheme of things, but why not at least make that effort?
The punt on fourth didn’t help any, but still, why do you not try to kill the clock?
My sister, who unfortunately is an Auburn fan, was at the game as well. She called me after the game to ask if we made it back to the car okay. She went on to tell me that all four tires were slashed on several cars near where she parked.
Of course, the first thought was that LSU fans had slashed the tires for whatever reason. Usually you see the visiting team’s cars vandalized following a loss, but these were all Auburn cars.
The back and forth jawing was all in good fun all night. Both sides were very civil, unlike my experience with the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry. So why did this happen?
Latter I found out that it was suspected that the slashing was done by Auburn fans upset because they couldn’t get tickets. That really makes no sense either, but hey, we got out alive, and we got a great night of entertaining football to take in.
Well, at least I felt that way.
I tried to console my friend. He took it very well. He was upset about the same couple of things I mentioned above: the two pass plays.
All in all, my first Tiger Bowl turned out all right. But don’t expect me to grow soft or say I like either of the teams any better than before I walked through the gate of Jordan-Hare.