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Behind Enemy LinesFootball

Behind Enemy Lines – Part 4

Part 4 – Analyzing the Psychology of the Enemy
by Will

It’s possible no one really wants to hear from me this week — no Auburn fan (with the possible exception of my mother) actually believes me when I say I take no pleasure in watching the Teagles fail. But I promise it’s the truth.

In fact, I’d predicted Auburn would win Thursday night in Morgantown, even texted a number of my friends to that effect on my way home from work Thursday. With the off week, I’d anticipated Auburn getting healthy on defense, getting right on offense and putting the wood to a poorly-coached Mountaineer team on national TV. “Auburn by 17,” I told them. Of course, I looked pretty smart at the end of the first quarter. The rest of the game … well, it’s a good thing I don’t have any money to place on these things. Obviously, there’s no shame in losing to a team that’s probably going to win its conference and go to a BCS game. And furthermore, Thursday night showed us the Pat White everyone was anticipating in preseason — calling much of the offense from the line of scrimmage, he seemed a step ahead of Auburn’s defense most of the night.

But there’s something else here, and I received it in a text message from my cousin’s husband (cousin-in-law?) Jamie as the fourth quarter waned. “Never have i ever seen a team so cursed against winning. Best the off. has played = worst the def. has played.” Everybody has a season like that. Alabama fans endured them in 2000 and 2003 (and to a lesser extent in ’04 and ’06). It’s a truly bizarre dynamic: when one side plays well, the other side plays poorly. And eventually, that dynamic seeps down into the psychology of the fans and the sideline, with everyone ready to give up at the first sign of trouble.

That’s why this Saturday is the most important game of the season for Auburn, from a psychological standpoint. Forget about breaking Enrique Davis’ leg, or whatever The WarBlogler says. Auburn needs this win to prove that the season isn’t a lost cause. Because if they can’t pick this one up … well, it just might be.

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