If Auburn could only knock 1 rival out of Playoff, which would you prefer: Georgia or Alabama?
The ultimate nightmare scenario became reality for all Auburn fans 2 years ago when the Tigers’ biggest rivals, Alabama and Georgia, played each other for the national title just a month after Gus Malzahn’s had beaten both when they were ranked No. 1.
The Bulldogs got revenge in the SEC Championship Game to earn their place in the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide, not even the winners of their respective division in the SEC, took the last spot of the 4 among some major controversy.
Two years later, Kirby Smart and Nick Saban’s teams will come to The Plains with 1 loss — and 1 more defeat from being shut out of the Playoff. The best scenario for Auburn fans, obviously, would be to take down both and kill the dreams of the hated sides, but if they had to choose one and only one team to beat, which would the Tigers faithful pick?
The answer might be more complicated than you think.
The rivalry with Georgia has always been tense — remember the police hosing down UGA fans intruding the Jordan-Hare Stadium turf in 1986? — but in recent years it has become downright nasty. In 2007, the Bulldogs and Mark Richt brought out the black uniforms in the first Sanford Stadium “Blackout” in program history. It ended with the Dawgs dancing to Soulja Boy’s “Crank That,” a favor the Tigers would pay back exactly 10 years later.
In 2010, Nick Fairley and the Auburn defense made life difficult on Aaron Murray, with the fans chanting to the tune of “Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey Goodbye” during the final minutes. Murray wasn’t exactly pleased with Fairley’s actions, calling him out for cheap shots.
“If he did that outside the football field, he’d have been in jail for 3 years,” Murray said. “That was actually the first time in my life I was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to play football anymore.’ I’m not kidding, either. I was on the sideline and I had 6 stitches. My jersey’s covered in blood. I had a fractured sternum and can’t feel the left side of my body. I got whiplash in my neck, and I can’t really move my neck. I was like, ‘Is this really worth it? It’s my freshman year, I can quit now and save myself a lot of punishment.’ I had to sit up sleeping the next 2 weeks. I couldn’t even lay down. It was tough.”
Georgia fans called Auburn dirty. Tigers fans called the Bulldogs a bunch of cry babies.
And lest we forget the Miracle at Jordan-Hare in 2013 that ultimately ended with Murray, then a senior, getting blasted from the side by Dee Ford.
Or 2017, when Gus Malzahn was caught saying Auburn “whipped the Dawg-crap” out of Georgia, something Georgia players heard, stored and mocked when they won the rematch in Atlanta.
— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) November 12, 2017
With the number of years almost to 40 since the Bulldogs last won a national title, Dawgs fans seem to grow more angry and impatient by the minute. It doesn’t help that Auburn, Florida and Tennessee have all won titles in the past 21 years.
But is the disdain Auburn fans have for the Dawgs more than they have for the Tide?
In some ways, the rivalry with Alabama rarely gets dirty on the field but thrives on the insanity off it. That insanity has helped make Paul Finebaum a wealthy man.
If you live in Birmingham or Montgomery or anywhere in the state, wouldn’t it be nice to walk into work, a restaurant or church the morning after the Iron Bowl and have the fact that the Tigers sent the Tide home without an invite to the College Football Playoff be nice?
Saban’s team has received the breaks before — 2011 and 2017 to be exact — and to finally put no doubt that he would be coaching in a (relatively) meaningless bowl game again would be rubbing salt in the wound just weeks after LSU got done putting a dent in the machine.
There’s nothing quite like beating Alabama that puts an extra step of the gait of an Auburn fan, but then again, with so many alumni that come from or live in the Peach State, the same can possibly be said for defeating those “damn dirty Dawgs.”
So which rival would Tigers fans rather knock out and keep from another appearance in the playoff?
You tell me. It’s much too close for me to make a choice.