Sunday, November 12
I didn't get where I am today without getting in someone's way.
Toomer's Corner, Auburn, Alabama, in a state of nudity that is uncharacteristic, though preferable.
I've mentioned before that the Georgia-Auburn game is the one Georgia game I go to every year even if I can't make it to any of the others, and coming into this season I'd gone to nine straight. I almost didn't make it to the tenth. I had a ticket hookup through a good friend of mine who's an Auburn grad in good enough standing that he can pretty much get his hands on as many tickets as he wants on any given weekend, but given that Georgia was 6-4 coming into this weekend and had just found a way to lose to Kentucky, I was starting to wonder if my streak of Auburn-Georgia attendance was worth fifty bucks (and the spectacle of what seemed an almost certain ass-whipping) to maintain. In the end, I wussed out and left it up to my sister as to whether we would go or not -- we were both planning on going down to Auburn to tailgate with some friends of ours, but she hadn't expressed any particular interest in actually going to the game; I figured I'd offer her a shot at a ticket, and when she said no thanks, there was a better-than-good probability I'd turn mine down too and just stay at the tailgate with her.
But to my surprise, Ann said, "Yeah, I want a ticket -- I've just got a feeling about this game." So she anted up, and I did too. And pretty much because of her, I was treated to maybe the most inspired -- and inspiring -- performance I've seen from Georgia since, well, before this season, that's for damn sure.
Move, bitch, get out the way.
Matt Stafford? Eight picks in the previous three games, but an interception-less, cool-in-or-out-of-the-pocket surgeon on Saturday. Kregg Lumpkin? Not stoppable, only hope-to-be-containable. Our receivers? Passed on a case of the dropsies, which are apparently communicable, to some other poor bastards for a change. Our coaches? Maligned for months for not being charismatic or adaptable enough, adapted well enough that we held onto a halftime lead for once (though, I'll admit, 30-7 is pretty easy to hold onto) and kept punching for the full 60 minutes, the first time we've done that since maybe South Carolina.
And Tra Battle -- oh, poor, maligned, afflicted-with-Greg-Blue-syndrome Tra Battle. Want to know how acute the domination was Saturday? Tra Battle (3 rec, 69 yds, 1 TD) would've been Auburn's leading receiver if not for the minor technicality of him not playing for Auburn. In fact, our secondary had as many receptions on the day as Auburn's entire team did. I will never forget the Twilight Zone-caliber shock of looking up at the TigerVision screen looming over us at halftime and seeing that Auburn had a total of seven passing yards in the first half. "That's gotta be some kind of error," I distinctly remember saying at the time. But it wasn't.
But nothin' comes out when they move they lips, just a bunch a' gibberish, and muthafuckas act like they forgot about Tra.
The other thing I remember them putting up on the Jumbotron was I think a text-message-oriented poll question where they asked people what their favorite Georgia-Auburn game was, with the choices naturally being a rundown of Auburn's greatest hits; being the polite guest that I am, I yelled out "Where's 2002?" when the choices came up on the screen. But as we were walking out of the stadium, Ann said, "You know, as awesome as 2002 was [and she was there for that one, too], I think this was my favorite Georgia-Auburn game."
As delicious as this past weekend's game was, I don't know that I can put it up there with the sheer emotional awesomeness of watching 70-X-Takeoff clinch Georgia's first SEC title-game berth in history. But in some ways, this game was a lot like that one -- both games important for their own reasons, but still important; Georgia overcoming imposing odds to pull off a statement win; and, like any good Georgia-Auburn game, we ended up freezing our asses off. (This time around, it was because we got good and soaked by a sudden downpour in the third quarter, after which the temperature helpfully dropped from 67 into the high 40s.) And yet the '02 game has never seemed farther away than it did as we walked out of the stadium on Saturday, but not in a bad way. Rather, it's the kind of faraway viewpoint you can only have after you've watched your team reach the very pinnacle of achievement, stumble through a period that's about as bad as anything you can recall having witnessed, and then come out the other side of that misery (hopefully) reborn.
There were times this season -- and I'm sure it came through in some of the stuff you've read on here -- when a part of me really believed that Georgia's struggles were not an isolated bump in the road but a harbinger of prolonged misery to come. That some of the coaches really were at a loss to solve whatever was going on and that we were going to be remanded back to the tier of decent-but-never-all-that-noteworthy that we occupied during the Donnan era -- or worse, the tier of constantly-in-danger-of-getting-humiliated-by-supposedly-lesser-teams that we occupied before that. But Saturday served as a reminder that the people in charge do know what they're doing and that the Dawgs don't ever have to be completely hopeless. The spark was always there, waiting to get lit, and while I'm still scratching my head as to how it didn't get lit until now, that's old shit. And as Ted Stryker said in "Airplane II," we're not in the past anymore. This is the future.
Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.
So what of the future, which as of now includes 1) the Georgia Tech game in two weeks and 2) a possibly not-even-all-that-shitty bowl game? Hell, I don't know. My predictions of where Georgia is headed have been remarkably wrong in the past, and I'm talking Rumsfeld wrong. But whatever else happens over the remainder of 2006, this much I'm pretty sure about: A team that can, at its lowest point in years, march into the house of the #5 team in the country and lay them out in the first 30 minutes has got reasons to be optimistic. Back in 2002, the guys who led Georgia to its first-ever appearance in the SEC title game talked about "blowing the lid off" the program; maybe in their own small way, the 2006 Dawgs blew the lid off this season, getting past the frustrations and mistakes and getting a taste of what it felt like to win again, and win big. If Georgia's capable of this kind of game even when they're young and reeling, the next three years are going to be a lot of fun.
Best sport ever.
Democrats retake control of Congress, Georgia annihilates a top-five Auburn team: We officially have a new frontrunner in the competition for Best Week of Doug Gillett's Life That Did Not Involve Sexual Intercourse. Sadly, the competition for that one is a lot more heated than the Sexual Intercourse division.
But oh well.
I just can't get enough:
· I know I'm supposed to be taking this opportunity to taunt Auburn for having gotten knocked tha f$#! out like that -- and I know I'm gonna hear about it from Platinum-Level Auburn hater Kyle King for not doing so -- but I want to tip my cap to Auburn and its fans, because Ann and I were treated extremely well on Saturday. Our tickets were right smack in the middle of thousands of highly disgruntled Auburn fans, but they were all very cordial and very complimentary of Georgia's performance afterward, rather than engaging in an expletive-filled tirade as I certainly would have been tempted to do. That's the thing I like about this rivalry: Unlike, say, Georgia-Tennessee, the fans seem to genuinely enjoy each other's company for the most part rather than merely imagining what each other would look like dismembered and throwin in a dumpster; I can actually have a conversation with my enemies and enjoy myself. Thanks to my homey Jim for the tickets, and to tailgating hosts Arlana, Jason, Sirena, and Chris for the hospitality . . . oh, and the booze. The delicious, delicious booze.
If you're soaking wet and wearing flip-flops and it's 45 degrees outside, this is your new best friend.
· OK, one quick taunt: Tommy Tuberville, if you're ever tempted to complain about getting jobbed out of a BCS title-game berth again . . . don't.
· My good friend Mark, a fellow Bulldog now living the good life out at the Associated Press's Honolulu bureau, called me out not long ago for not giving Hawaii enough props on here. So here it is: At least 60 points in their last three games? An average of 62 over their past five games, and 48.7 for the season? Yes, Virginia, the Warriors are very good. My question is this: Do they ever get tired of playing in the Hawaii Bowl? Do they ever have a really great season and then they're like, "Fuck it, I'm tired of staying so close to home, I wanna go someplace exotic like . . . Fort Worth"?
This never got a lot of play on the show, but Magnum, P.I.? Huge Warriors fan.
· Rutgers vs. Michigan in the national title game -- you know it, I know it, and the American people know it.
· And finally, because you knew it was coming:
Overtaken by forces you could not comprehend.
Yes, after two close escapes, the Cheerleader Curse lives. It's bigger than me; bigger than Georgia, than Auburn; bigger than all of us.
And boy, am I glad.