The English language needs a new word. It's long past time for a single term to describe the feeling you have on a Sunday morning after your team has won the Auburn-Alabama game. This rare combination of serene, languorous satisfaction, bone-deep joy, and let's be honest here, frank relief ought to have its own name.
For now, we'll just call it Thumbiness.
Okay, okay, before getting my gloat on, let's talk about the actual football. First and foremost, it was a hell of a good football game, the best contest on the field since the back-to-back one-pointers of 1996-97, and really the first time since then that AU and UAT were both competitive from wire to wire. There's a lot of griping this morning about missed opportunities from the other side, but from where I was sitting (which, granted, was somewhere in the stratosphere of Bryant-Denny's new upper deck), there wasn't a whole lot left on the field.
Both teams played a whale of a ball game. UAT quarterback John Wilson obviously had a solid day. Getting slobberknockered by Quentin Groves a couple of times wasn't his fault; that was courtesy of Chris Capps, the lousiest excuse for an SEC lineman I've seen in some time. Alabama's passing game was dead on the mark, even if they couldn't run much at all. That said, Auburn's much-maligned secondary deserves a lot of credit for completely shutting down D.J. Hall and containing Keith Brown--but spread that credit around to sophomore wideout Nikita Stover, who broke 100 yards and scored that late-second-quarter touchdown that kept the Turds in the game.
Brandon Cox started out the game poorly. It was obvious from his first passing attempt that Cox was still reeling from the Georgia debacle. Fortunately for Auburn, all it took was one clutch completion to Rod Smith on a third-and-long early in the second half for Cox to rise above the dismal sounds of the prior Saturday. After that, Cox was in it to win it, and it didn't hurt any that the young receiving corps finally stepped up to play. Prechae Rodriguez isn't likely to have a bigger catch in his career than the game-winner.
Of course, with only 14 pass attempts to 40 rushes, Cox was playing a secondary role to Kenny Irons, Brad Lester and Carl Stewart in the AU scheme. All three backs played well, but I think I've been most impressed with Stewart's development this season. He was pretty much written off as a too-slow tailback before the season, but a preseason injury to Mike McLaughlin thrust Stewart into a new role, and he's flourished in the interim. Stewart was a menace clearing the path for Irons and Lester, and you're rarely going to see two bigger plays in a rivalry game than his pair of long receptions off the wheel route.
It was a fun game. Not fun like last year's drubbing, but fun all the same. Take away the last couple of minutes, and I'll be you most Alabama fans would agree with me.
A few numbers of note. In modern-era games played outside dolorous confines of Legion Field, Auburn is now 10-2 in the series. Needless to say, that's a big deal. AU has won six of the last seven, and clinched the decade (whatever the 2000's are called) with Saturday's victory.
Zero: the number of touchdowns (and, not coincidentally, wins) UAT running back Ken Darby tallied against Auburn in his four-year career. Darby's rushing totals over four Auburn games--three of which he started--were: 1, 14, 89 and 48. That's right--for somebody who really loved to shoot his mouth off about Auburn, Darby barely managed to top 150 total yards over four years.
In most other cases, I'm happy to tip my hat to UAT's players for a great effort, but not for this bozo. Darby, you suck.