Really what do you say after that? In the words of Larry Munson, by halftime "I'd given up. You had to." Then it looked as if a miracle was in the offing. The Georgia Bulldogs, moribund for most of the contest, roared forth and took the lead with two minutes to play. The defense, equal parts porous and lifeless for most of the afternoon, suddenly sprang to life. "Glory, Glory" boomed across the Plains. Victory. I could taste it. You could too.
But sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way. On a 4th and 18 play which began with Auburn securely on their own side of the field and running out of time, the ball not only refused to bounce our way. It bounced away from us, jeered over its nonexistent shoulder, sprouted legs, and kicked us right in the nuts.
God bless Aaron Murray. On a night when Todd Gurley had a respectable 15 carries for 79 yards, Murray put the Red and Black on his back. The senior from Tampa finished 33 of 49 for 415 yards through the air. He added 37 yards on 9 rushing attempts, none bigger than the 5 yard touchdown run to put the Bulldogs up 38-37 late.
But it wasn't to be. Because the ball just doesn't bounce your way sometimes. Admittedly some credit should go to Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis. He was out of position, double covered, but didn't give up on the ball. His patience was rewarded with a touchdown, and likely a spot in War Eagle lore for years to come. Depending on how things go for the Tigers from here, Louis's catch could cast him in the same light as "70-X Takeoff" did Michael Johnson. This series is really one long, long series of punches and counterpunches to the nuts, you see.
In the end Georgia ended up with a golden opportunity to win a game that they really had no business being in at the end. And it hurts. Just like in 2005, when we watched helplessly as Auburn converted 4th and a thousand before running out the clock and kicking a field goal to secure a 31-30 triumph over a senior Bulldog quarterback who played out of his mind, but came up just short. There's a certain sick feeling that accompanies a close loss to Auburn. This is it.
One can certainly point to the abysmal blocking by the offensive line. The fact that Ken Gates and John Theus couldn't stop Dee Ford if you gave them a two step head start. The half-hearted first half tackling. The penalties. God, the penalties.
Nick Marshall said in the postgame interview that Auburn won because they "wanted it more." Bull. Auburn won this game because in the centuries-long feud between Georgia and Auburn everyone gets smitten in his own turn. Usually with a bandsaw. It's in the nature of this rivalry to do cruel, cruel things to good people. It is the Christine of college football rivalries, with a malevolent mind of its own.
I hate you, South's Oldest Rivalry. I hate you for the anguish you make me endure, the false hope you placed in front of me tonight, then yanked away in favor of a jab in the privates by a bouncing, oblong ball. I hate you. Just not as much as I hate Auburn. Let's not get carried away. Until later . . .