College football overtime is both a blessing and a curse.
Blessing when it involves teams not called the Arkansas Razorbacks; curse when it does.
Because when one is not emotionally attached, it’s a joy to watch. Truly. When the Hogs go to OT, however, my body essentially prepares for a heart attack. It flutters with every snap, it sputters with each PAT.
And when the Hogs’ prevent defense prevented only a regulation win on Saturday, I was prepared for another OT meltdown. We went from owning OT in the 2000s to, well, not owning them. No magic. No big plays. Not even so much as a first down in three quick OT losses to Mississippi State and A&M (twice). After leading in each of ‘em. The table seemed set for another such crash.
Adhering closely to the script, Auburn scored easily and we quickly faced a third and long on our first OT possession. Here we go, we thought. Surely we all thought that, even if just for a fleeting moment.
But a funny thing happened on the way to what appeared would be another gut-wrenching loss: We made plays. Brandon Allen hoisted the team on his back and made plays.
It never should’ve gone to OT, but I’m glad it did. This team will benefit from the experience it gained in four pressure-packed OTs in which the offense literally faced do-or-die plays in two of ‘em.
We’re using muscles now we hadn’t used in a while, and getting stronger for it.
Some random observations as we head into what should be a layup against a good 1-AA team in UT-Martin, but perhaps not the tomahawk dunk some might expect:
- First off, prayers to RW3. So glad to hear he's gonna be OK regardless of football. That's all that matters.
- Enos....for me, the play calling was great early and late and certainly when it counted.
- The defense...overall and especially in the back seven, still a work in progress. But making more plays than it's giving up.
- Sean White impressed. His receivers did not, thankfully. Speaking of which, Joshua Liddell closed on Auburn's failed 4th down in the 4th OT and may have helped jar the ball loose, but replay clearly showed the receiver (can't remember who it was) muffing the throw just before Liddell arrives. And White was late on the pass, which was there over the middle.
- Spots...ugh. When we have the ball, does anyone else feel like the ball is spotted where the runner's knee goes down instead of where the ball is when the knee touches?
The line is fine indeed between the feeling we all share this week and the state of the our nation had we squandered that game. And just as fine is the line separating 3-4 with a bullet from 2-5 with a brick.
As big a win as Auburn was, the magnitude of a loss would’ve been catastrophic. But we’re not looking back. 6-6 seems reasonable, and frankly, I like our chances in Oxford and Baton Rouge.
One game, of course, at a time. Toledo surely taught us that.