With Auburn win, potential upped for epic Iron Bowl

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Yes, Alabama still has to meander their way through the ranked likes of Mississippi State and LSU.  Yes, Auburn must still avoid letdowns on the road against Ole Miss and at home versus Georgia.

Yes, there is still plenty of football left before Nov. 26.

But…

In a slugfest featuring the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the SEC, Auburn smacked LSU about the head repeatedly with a vicious rushing attack that the vaunted Bayou Bengals defense simply had no answer for, and ran away — literally — with a 24-17 win to remain unblemished.

It wasn’t just the fact that Auburn dropped LSU; the Tigers, after all, were the higher-ranked team coming onto the Jordan-Hare turf.  It was how they did it that should leave the rest of the country in awe, and any potential future opponent scratching their heads and asking themselves “how the hell do you slow them down let alone stop ’em?”

All Auburn did was drop a staggering 442 yards rushing on a defense that came into the game giving up an average of 84 yards per game, and had allowed only two teams (one barely) past the century mark this year.

Not only did Auburn firmly announce themselves as a very real and very dangerous national title contender, Cam Newton also solidified himself as the leader in the race for the Heisman.  Newton rushed for more yards as an individual (217) than LSU had given up to an entire team (152, Mississippi State) all season, scored two touchdowns and, just as important, avoided yet again any type of turnover.

If the Heisman were given today, there should be little to no doubt that the stiff-armed trophy would be in Newton’s trophy case tomorrow (Sorry, Ducks).  Of course, we’re still a little less than two months away from the presentation and just about anything in that race can happen in that span, as proven by two simple words: Denard.  Robinson.

While we’re on the subject of the future and what may or may not occur…

It’s fair to say that Nick Saban won’t allow his players to think much beyond the next breath they take much less something that’s still 34 days away.  Gene Chizik is likely residing in the same neighborhood.  As we are not a member of either football program, though, we’re free from the constraints and allowed to dream of what could be.

And what it could be is an Iron Bowl for the ages.  

Just imagine the stakes: an 11-0 Auburn team versus a 10-1 Alabama squad in Tuscaloosa, with a shot at both a berth in the SEC title game and, beyond that, perhaps the chance to play for a national title. Passions already run high in a rivalry that’s as heated as any in not only college football, but in sports period.  Toss those implications onto a raging fire fueled by 180-proof hate, and the possibilities are endlessly epic for this year’s version of the South’s the Game.

Again, yes, there’s still a lot of football left to be played.  Still, that won’t stop me from quietly hoping the stage remains set — thank you, Tide — for the Iron Bowl to end all Iron Bowls.