Monday, September 21, 2009

Auburn won, but only in the points column (OK, turnovers too)

For those who didn't stay up until after 11 pm central time after the 1+ hour Mother Nature delay, Auburn came out on top over the West Virginia Mountaineers, 41-30. Auburn played exactly how I predicted, despite covering the spread with a late score. Auburn was able to fight off several WVU threats and were aided by six turnovers, two of which were deep in Auburn territory. However, the score, as is sometimes the case, was not indicative of the game that was played on the field.

If you take a look at the box score for the game, West Virginia had more first downs, more total yards, a couple more passing yards, over twice as many rushing yards, fewer penalties, and a longer time of possession. The categories where Auburn won were in the aforementioned turnovers and points. If you didn't know the outcome and looked at the box score, you'd probably guess that West Virginia won the game (well, maybe not with six turnovers, but you get the idea). The final touchdown came when Craig Stevens returned the fifth and final interception 15 yards for the score, and the previous touchdown was set up by a Jake Ricks interception returned to inside the 20-yard line. Thus Auburn was able to capitalize on some short field possessions. Auburn's first scoring drive of more than 50 yards was their final score before halftime, and the only other such scoring drive was capped by a screen pass to Mario Fannin that went for 82 yards. Who would have thought Auburn's bright spot would have been the passing game. Todd threw for 284 yards and four scores. He is light years ahead of where he was last year, but that wouldn't take much. With West Virginia lining up to take down the running game, Auburn was able to capitalize through the air.

Without a doubt, without the turnovers, West Virginia manhandles Auburn. I'd like to think that wouldn't be the case, and I guess you can't start playing "what-if" with football. I'm glad Auburn won, and I think that does a lot to bolster our image for the positive. Auburn still didn't make it into the top 25 polls, which doesn't surprise me based on how we played. Don't look for them to make it next week either against an easier-than-last-year Ball State. I guess we'll have to start 5-0 with a win over Tennessee to make an appearance in the top 25.

Take a breather, Auburn. You won the game and are now 3-0 to start the season for the first time since...last year. Let's hope the implosion doesn't begin again. I'm OK with allowing lots of points as long as we score more, but let's not start talking national championship just yet. (For the record: I don't think anyone actually IS talking national championship right now.)

Laughing point: I don't know if anyone caught this on the broadcast, but the funniest quote made by the commentators was, and I'm paraphrasing, "Chris Todd had a relationship with Tony Franklin last year." Yes, I think we all knew that.

See you guys on the plains this week against David Letterman's alma mater!

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