So, I missed most of the second quarter and good bit of the fourth quarter. My stepson's baby sister and her mom popped in unannounced, and the little lady was busy being all kinds of adorable. Then, in the fourth quarter I had to head out to a benefit concert for World AIDS Day (December 1st) even with the game still in reach. I heard the failed 4th down conversion on the radio.
It's like the universe has been force-feeding me perspective all day. There's just too much going on in the world for this to break my heart. I'm as disappointed as anyone, but this is a comparatively easy loss to move on from. The other team made more plays any way you slice it.
When mature teams get outplayed, they tip their collective cap and get ready for the next opportunity to make more plays than their opponent. Immature teams feel sorry for themselves and go on about what might have been. Often they lose focus and get beat again. That's the thing about competition. It can be harsh, but at its best it brings clarity. Missouri found out yesterday that it is not the best team in the country. Neither is Alabama. Neither is Georgia. Neither is Oregon. Each had reason to feel it might be this season and is dealing with the realization that it is not. How each deals will ultimately determine what kind of season this is.
Missouri is not the best team, but it's one hell of a team. Lots of fans from lots of teams have stopped by RMN to tell us so. Missouri is fortunate to have one more opportunity to be even more of a hell of a team.
1. "When I Could Spot My Curveball the Batter was Irrelevant" -- Steve Stone
That's one of my favorite lines from the venerable pitcher-turned-broadcaster. When he had complete command of his arsenal, it didn't matter what the batter did. That was Auburn's offense yesterday. It took them an entire season to peak like that. It sucks that it happened against our defense, but it was gonna happen. The defense was irrelevant. That offense run at its peak is like looking at fight choreography, where one fighter ducks while the other swings at the space he used to occupy. That's what it looked like.
People are going to KILL Steck. Whatever. Auburn's ball handling was so majestic our defenders just could not find it. The number of down linemen could not have been less relevant. It was Auburn's sprinter speed against our flat-footed defenders with their heads on a swivel. Irrelevant batter, meet knee-buckling curve ball on the outside corner.
Anyway, God bless Gus Malzahn, but I'm sitting here listening to Jesse Palmer -- a FAR bigger hack than Gary Danielson -- act like we've never seen anything like Auburn's offense. That's garbage. Auburn is the reincarnation of Rich Rod's West Virgina Mountaineers rolling over Georgia with Pat White and Steve Slaton. Malzahn's version has more nuance and wrinkles, but they're just that.
2. There Are Very Few Teams Missouri Would Not Have Beaten with Yesterday's Offense
On offense Missouri was uncharacteristically inefficient and perhaps somewhat unexpectedly explosive. Just compared to type. Missouri brought its deep passing game. Dorial Green-Beckham looked even better than Amari Cooper. Auburn, however, was able to disrupt the intermediate game with pressure. The slants and skinny posts that have been so good to James Franklin were frustratingly off-target, often just barely. Still, 35 points on offense is probably all you can reasonably expect from any offense.
I should note that Auburn's "not so secret weapon" was its kicking game, as noted in the preview. Neither team did much with kickoffs, but Auburn's punter kept the field flipped for Auburn in the third quarter. It certainly felt like Auburn started most of its drives around its 40 while Missouri was backed up against its end zone after getting stops.
At any rate, burn the tape. Or at least put it away for next year. Not much point looking at it. Move to the next one. We are fortunate to have one more game to play championship caliber ball.