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Behind Enemy LinesFootball

Behind Enemy Lines – Part 5

After an unexplained week off, Will returns with some ridiculous comparisons between this year’s Alabama squad and the magic that was 2004 Auburn. Please…let him have it.

Part 5 – Is it possible that Alabama 2008 is Auburn 2004?
by Will

Please note, I don’t bring this up to rub any salt in your wounds. Auburn fans are suffering enough this season.

Actually, the first person to bring it up was my friend Zach, an avowed Auburn guy since the womb. He first raised the possibility after the thrashing of UGA, when Alabama played a first half and seemingly could do no wrong. “It reminded me a lot of the Tennessee game (in 2004),” he said. “We just ripped them that night.”

Saturday night in Baton Rouge made me think about Auburn, ’04. Auburn’s signature moment that season came against the Bengal Tigers (coached by Nick Saban, yes) who came in as the defending national champs. Watch the replay of that game — Auburn did everything that day to lose and somehow won anyway, when Jason Campbell found Courtney Taylor on fourth-and-15, then again for the TD (I don’t need to tell you guys this, obviously). When I think of Auburn ’04, the first thing I think of is that game.

Ten years from now, when we think of Alabama ’08, we may very well think first of Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Everything was working against the Tide in that game — the venom of the fans, a lousy first half (almost exactly in opposition to their MO this season), LSU running for over 4 yards a pop. Each time Alabama did something positive, they seemed to find a way to negate it. And yet, they kept coming back. LSU’s fourth-quarter, gut-tough drive — give Les Miles credit: those guys have a lot of pride — could’ve sunk Alabama. So could that ticky holding call against Andre Smith on the ensuing drive. And the blocked FG on the last play of regulation damn sure should’ve been the end of the line. Only it wasn’t. Alabama simply shrugged its shoulders, forced an INT in overtime and then won the game the right way: by being aggressive and scoring a TD.

Both teams knew how to win. Both teams came out of nowhere. Both teams have a first-year OC who came from the West Coast. And both teams were lucky with schedule — it’s easy to forget this now, but Alabama looked like a tough out in ’04 until Brodie Croyle got hurt, and LSU was a quarterback away from defending its championship (sound familiar?).

The parallels aren’t perfect. Auburn’s ’04 team featured six eventual first-round draft picks; this Alabama team doesn’t have nearly that amount of talent. And ‘Bama has a potential juggernaut left on the schedule in the SEC Championship Game, also (Tennessee was good, but not that good).

The ironic thing is that what happened to Auburn in ’04 — left out of the championship game — has likely bolstered the cases of other SEC contenders (Florida in ’06, LSU in ’07) and has definitely helped bolster Alabama’s ranking, despite howls of protest from the nation in favor of Texas Tech. Is it a comfort to Auburn people that their misfortune may have helped out their rivals? I’m guessing no. But I am glad we’re having this discussion.

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willheath 11/13/2008 at 11:02 am

One thing I left out of this one: both teams had a penchant for scoring early and often. When Joe Kines’ defense punched Auburn off the field after three plays in the first quarter of the Tigers’ visit to Tuscaloosa in 2004, it was the first time anybody had done to them all year.
Can’t believe I forgot about that one.

trigger 11/13/2008 at 11:32 am

Alabama wasn’t the only team making mistakes last Saturday. If LSU has a QB then Bama loses easy. I’ve yet to see Bama play a good team when that team played like a good team. Knowing Bama’s fortune Tebow will catch the flu the night before the SEC Championship and Percy Harvin will get injured and Florida will still play them close but lose by one score. I have yet to see Bama play a Texas-Texas Tech game where I thought, “wow these are both really good teams but the better team won”

willheath 11/13/2008 at 12:36 pm

“If LSU has a QB then Bama loses easy.”

If the queen had balls, she’d be the king.

Make all the excuses you want and keep doubting this team — all they do is beat the teams put in front of them. They beat Clemson because they were better; they beat Georgia because they were better; they beat LSU because they were better. No matter how you slice it, that’s the bottom line. Florida may wind up being the better team, and if they are I’ll tip my hat. Right now, however, these are the facts.

The WarBlogler 11/13/2008 at 1:08 pm

I like these comparisons to the 2004 Auburn team:

2004 Auburn 42, Kentucky 10
2008 Alabama 17, Kentucky 14

2004 Auburn 35, Ole Miss 14
2008 Alabama 24, Ole Miss 20

2004 Auburn 24, Georgia 6 (all points scored in 2nd half)
2008 Alabama 42, Georgia 31 (all points scored in 2nd half)

2004 Auburn 52, La. Tech 7
2008 Alabama 20, Tulane 7
Not the same team I know, but a lesser Lousiana school, even lesser than La. Tech.

trigger 11/13/2008 at 5:04 pm

I’m not saying Bama doesn’t deserve their #1 ranking and all the wonderful glory they are receiving, but I think they have failed to show that they can beat a Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, or USC when these teams are playing REAL football. “Georgia because they were better” UGA got caught with their pants down. Most “sensible bama fans” (oxymoron I know) will agree if there were 5 more minutes in that game UGA would win. Bama was not the better team, they just caught em at the right time. The reality is that Bama can play like a middle school team all season, but as long as the competition plays worse than them and they win than what can you really say? My point is don’t be surprised when they get “croomed”, lose to UF, or just show that it’s clear they aren’t really the best team. I hate to see what this team will be like for the next 2 years, but I know they aren’t there yet.

ZDAlsobr 11/18/2008 at 3:53 pm

I’m suing Will for using my name without permission…I did indeed make that comparison after Bama beat UGA…I haven’t really seen many parallels otherwise since…Maybe the 93 AU team would be a better comparison…I’m betting the house on WHOEVER Florida is playing the rest of the way however. They will win the NC this year (unless Timmy the great were to go down of course). Bama should be please going undefeated through the regular season…quite the accomplishment.


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