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A Letdown In The SEC Championship Game? It’s Possible, Auburn

SZ200_man-falling-off-ladderThis Saturday, third-ranked Auburn will battle Missouri for the Southeastern Conference championship.  A potential slot in the BCS Championship Game will also be at stake.  One prize and the path to another are on the line.

And Auburn had better work to avoid a letdown.

As silly as it sounds, Gus Malzahn will have his work cut out for him this week.  He can’t allow his Tigers to look past the other Tigers on the Georgia Dome field… and he can’t let them bask for too long in the glory of Saturday’s amazing Iron Bowl victory.  After “the Prayer at Jordan-Hare” won AU the Georgia game, the Tigers had a week off to get their heads on straight.  They also had the game of the year in the state of Alabama to focus upon.

Auburn’s players will hear a lot of talk about the BCS standings and the national title game this week.  They’ll likely say all the right things about Missouri, but for a teenager or a 21-year-old, it’ll be hard to ignore the bigger stage that sits just on the other side of the Mizzou and the SEC title game.

Hey, it’s happened before.

In 2001, Tennessee entered its annual grudge match with Florida as a 17-point underdog.  The game had been pushed to the end of the regular season after the 9/11 attacks.  When gametime rolled ’round, the Vols were looking for their first win in Gainesville in three decades.  And that’s exactly what they got.  UT knocked off the Gators 34-32 to position itself for a showdown with Miami in that year’s Rose Bowl, which served as the ’01 BCS title site.

One problem.  The Volunteers had to get over their Florida victory and then focus on LSU.  First things first, as they say.  But Nick Saban’s LSU squad — behind a backup quarterback — upset the flat-footed Vols 31-20 to capture Saban’s first SEC crown and knock Tennessee (and the SEC) right out of the national championship game.

If Malzahn’s smart, he’ll make sure his players know all about that game as Saturday approaches.

 

(SIDENOTE — Please, Missouri fans, stop looking for reasons to have your feelings hurt.  Auburn came off a miracle win in their most sacred game.  If Mizzou had won on such a miracle against the Tigers’ oldest rival — Kansas — we’d have written beware of a letdown for them, too.  Seeing as how MU fans are always looking for slights — even on sites that have championed their inclusion in the league — it’s doubtful their players will have any problems setting out to “prove” something on Saturday.  Please, enough with the emails.)

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UGA Had A New Play Ready If Time Hadn’t Expired Vs. Bama

It was the kind of decision that typically winds up permanently affixed to a coach’s bio.  Like Tom Osborne’s decision to go for two — and the win — against Miami (FL) in the Orange Bowl in January of ’84.  Like Les Miles’ decision to eschew a field goal, risk the clock running out and throw for the end zone against Auburn in 2007.

Faced with a bang-bang decision and a clock quickly working its way down to double zeroes in last December’s SEC Championship Game, Georgia coaches elected not to spike the football to stop the clock.  Instead Aaron Murray completed a pass short of the goal line on the game’s final play and Alabama secured the SEC title and a berth in the BCS Championship Game by protecting the final five yards of Georgia Dome turf.

 

Alabama's final stand against Georgia in the SEC Championship

 

Five months later, UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo now says the Dawgs were ready with one more call had the final seconds not evaporated.  Interestingly, that play would have come from Urban Meyer’s old playbook and not Georgia’s:

 

“We had actually gone back to, I don’t know what it was, it was one of the Florida-Alabama games, where Alabama had given up three red zone scores to Florida (2008 SEC Championship Game).  It was a play that Florida had actually ran against Alabama.  It was an empty set, and had two primary frontside, and a double-slant backside.  It was something from ’08 or ’09 that Tebow had completed against them.  Because I remember after that game, (Alabama defensive coordinator) Kirby (Smart) was talking about how, ‘We just couldn’t stop them in the red zone.’  So we just studied that hard…

We had some plans, we just didn’t have a chance to call those plays.”

 

Bobo, saying his team will have to learn to live with the end of the 2012 SEC title game, admitted that “I don’t think we’re ever gonna get over that game.”

You can find highlights of that game below:

 

florida vs alabama SEC championship.wmv

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SEC Championship Sweepstakes – Enter Today!

***SPONSORED POST*** 

Regions Bank is sending a lucky winner to the SEC championship game through the #road2ATLsweeps Sweepstakes.  Not only does the winner get two free tickets to the event – scheduled for December 1 in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome – he or she will receive two free nights hotel accommodations, a $250 gift card and a Regions Lifegreen cruiser.  That’s a chance to win a bike, a gift card, hotel stay and game tickets – just by entering.

You have until November 17th - that’s this Saturday – to enter the Sweepstakes – but don’t wait.  For Sweepstakes Official Rules and to enter today for free, go here and maybe we’ll see you in Atlanta!

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SEC Championship Sweepstakes

***SPONSORED POST*** 

Regions Bank is sending a lucky winner to the SEC championship game through the #road2ATLsweeps Sweepstakes.  Not only does the winner get two free tickets to the event – scheduled for December 1 in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome – he or she will receive two free nights hotel accommodations, a $250 gift card and a Regions Lifegreen cruiser.  That’s a chance to win a bike, a gift card, hotel stay and game tickets – just by entering.

You have until November 17th to enter the Sweepstakes – but don’t wait.  For Sweepstakes Official Rules and to enter today for free, go here and maybe we’ll see you in Atlanta!

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SEC Headlines 9/29/2012

1. Kentucky forced  to refute bogus allegations regarding resignation of Joker Phillips. “Absolutely false.”

2. Auburn coach Gene Chizik to address status of wide receiver Quan Bray Sunday.  Wide receiver arrested in Georgia for violating driver’s permit.

3. Houston’s Reliant Stadium will join the Georgia Dome and Cowboys Stadium in hosting season-opening college football games.  Mississippi State and Oklahoma State reportedly finalizing deal for 2013.

4. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace – with a bruised right shoulder – will be closely watched tonight.

5. Kentucky basketball has released times and TV arrangements for its entire schedule.

6. SEC basketball recruiting -23 of Scout.com’s top 50 seniors have picked a college. Six of those players are headed to the SEC.

Extra

7. Two Hawaii defensive tackles carted off the field Friday night.

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SEC Headlines 9/2/2012

1. Kentucky opens at Louisville this afternoon on ESPN.  ”No one really knows anything about the two teams, they just think they do.”

2. Kentucky players haven’t forgotten last season’s 24-17 loss to the Cardinals.  ”That game left the worst taste in my mouth.”

3. Derek Dooley looks for improvement from his Tennessee team after Friday night’s win – says the Vols defense had a hard time adjusting to NC State’s quick pace.

4. Texas A&M will open at home against Florida with the ESPN Gameday crew on hand.

5. Stewart Mandel: Alabama “will likely rise back to No. 1 in the new rankings, and rightfully so.”

6.  Next up for Alabama- Western Kentucky. A sneak peek ahead to all of next weekend’s SEC action.

7. With Zach Mettenberger, LSU looks to be a one-quarterback team.  But there’s quite a battle going on at tailback.

8. Heralded freshman receiver Dorial Green-Beckham makes his Mizzou debut.

9. Vanderbilt fans like the new hillside seating.

10. Fearing a heart attack, former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie calls 911.

11. Police say a Tennessee fan was drinking alcohol before he plunged to his death Friday night in the Georgia Dome.

 

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Wow Morning Headlines 9/1/2012

Saturday Finals: Georgia 45 – Buffalo 23
Florida 27 – Bowling Green 14
Missouri 62- Southeastern Louisiana 10
Mississippi State 56 – Jackson State 9
Clemson 26 – Auburn 19
Arkansas 49 – Jacksonville State 24
Ole Miss 49 – Central Arkansas 27
LSU 41 – North Texas 14
Alabama 41- Michigan 14
Tennessee wins in Georgia Dome for the first time since 1998
Friday Final: Tennessee 35 – North Carolina State 21
Thursday Final: South Carolina 17 – Vanderbilt 13
For game previews, news and analysis, go to MrSEC.com

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Auburn-Virginia To Meet In 2015 Opener?

Auburn.  Virginia.  Atlanta.  Chick-fil-A.

That’s how last season ended in the Georgia Dome as the Tigers beat the Cavaliers 43-24 in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl.  But if a Virginia blog is correct, it appears those two schools have agreed to meet again to open the 2015 season in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff.

Cavalier fans who have received this year’s season-tickets have found a list of future opponents listed beside said tickets.  And, yep, a date with Auburn in Atlanta is listed right there as the opener in 2015:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This season, the Chick-fil-A opener will feature a doubleheader of Tennessee-NC State and Auburn Clemson.  In 2013, Alabama will face Virginia Tech.  In 2014, Ole Miss-Boise State and Alabama-West Virginia will take part in a double-header.

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Bama To Face WVU in 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game

A little less than two week ago, Alabama’s Nick Saban was asked about his schools success recruiting the state of Georgia.  He joked that he still had a lake house in the Peach State (though it’s for sale).

We pointed to two factors that we believe have played a role in Bama inking 20 Georgia natives in the past four classes:

 

1.  Georgia produces too much talent for UGA and Georgia Tech — until this year the only FBS-level programs in the state — to be able to keep it all at home.

2.  Saban has repeatedly played games in the Georgia Dome, smack in the heart of Atlanta.

 

In 2008, Bama faced Clemson in the first Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome.  A year later, Virginia Tech served as the Tide’s opener in that same game.

Next year, Alabama will once again face the Hokies in Atlanta.  And yesterday we learned that the Tide’s 2014 opponent in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is expected to be West Virginia.  Nick Saban told a Bama booster group yesterday that a game against his home state’s top university was on the docket.  The Charleston (WV) Daily Mail reports today that a West Virginia official has confirmed that a UA-WVU game “is in the works.”

For Georgia fans tired of seeing Alabama play a primetime game on the opening weekend of the season in their home state year-in and year-out, get used to it.  Saban’s done it twice before and now two more are officially lined up for future dates.  Expect more of the same moving forward.

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Report: AU’s Dyer Filing Paperwork To Enroll At Arkansas State

You can throw another log on the Mike-Dyer’s-leaving-Auburn-fire this afternoon.  According to the website NationalFootballAuthority.com, the suspended Tiger running back filed paperwork this afternoon to enroll at Arkansas State.

Two ASU players tweeted and Facebook’d “welcome” messages to Dyer a week ago, but Auburn coach Gene Chizik said at the time that there had been no change in Dyer’s status — he was still indefinitely suspended from the AU squad.  Still, Dyer was noticeably absent from Auburn’s bowl media guide and from a postseason highlight reel that was shown in the Georgia Dome during the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Dyer’s former offensive coordinator at Auburn — Gus Malzahn — has just taken the reins as Arkansas State’s head coach.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE — Matt Harris of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has now tweeted a follow-up to the above report/rumor from NationalFootballAuthority.com:  “Hearing from a source close to Dyer the #AState transfer paperwork rumor is bunk.  Family wants to meet with Chizik at Auburn.”

And that’s why used the “rumors” icon in connection with this one.  When it comes to Dyer, we want to hear an official word from Chizik or Malzahn before we believe he’s moving from one school to the other.

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