Alabama fans just enjoyed another week with the warm feeling of dominance, handling previously unbeaten Mississippi State 38-7 on Saturday, but the weekend chill brought a piercing wind.
Though the unbeaten Crimson Tide still tops the Bowl Championship Series standings and holds nearly every first-place vote in the three major national polls, the long-awaited, Nov. 3 challenge at Nov. 6 LSU looms this week.
Auburn fans? If the look of Jordan-Hare Stadium after halftime of the Tigers’ 63-21 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday was any indication, they’re finding the November air unbearable.
Maybe they should join the JSU fans who bundled up for homecoming Saturday, because Burgess-Snow Stadium has all the comforts of home. The Gamecocks haven’t lost there this season, and they’ve won dramatically.
Their 38-35 victory over Murray State on Saturday put the newest log in the fireplace.
Alabama: How high?
Well, Alabama fans, here it comes … hurdle cleared or devastation.
That’s ahead for an Alabama team that’s been a near-consensus No. 1 for weeks and, for the moment, seems every bit the inevitable force.
The Crimson Tide will go to No. 6 LSU, which had a bye week, and try to keep the dominance train rolling in the game that has shaped up as the lone real challenge on their schedule.
A simple victory will do, and should Alabama fans worry? Well, Nick Saban seems worried.
Anyone who saw ESPN’s broadcast of the Mississippi State game saw him ride backup defensive back Geno Smith all the way off the field and to the back of Alabama’s bench area late in the game.
Smith wasn’t the only backup to incur Saban’s wrath.
The coach was making a point about what this week of practice has to be, and he wasn’t waiting for his Monday press conference to make it.
The last time Alabama lost a game away from Bryant-Denny Stadium, it was in Baton Rouge, the last time the Tide played there. How Alabama fans feel a week from now depends on how well a team that has breezed through this season gets the message.
Auburn: How low?
By now, most have seen the picture of a half-empty Jordan-Hare Stadium, taken just after halftime of Saturday’s game. It’s all over the internet for recruits to see.
Was that the bottom?
The Tigers just gave up the biggest point total ever at home. Bottom?
If not, then what is the bottom … a homecoming loss to New Mexico State?
A week after Auburn fans suffered the latest indignity — all while top-ranked rival Alabama was rolling along in a “battle of unbeatens” against Mississippi State in Bryant-Denny Stadium — those who come will watch a battle of 1-7 teams in Jordan-Hare.
Losing such a game still seems unlikely, even for this Auburn team, but that’s a downgrade from inconceivable, and what next? Alabama A&M?
That doesn’t even cover the blowouts to come at “Amen Corner,” against rivals Georgia and Alabama.
Auburn president Jay Gouge issued a smoke-signal statement last week. It’s time for a real announcement, even if not effective until the end of the season.
Auburn fans need something.
JSU: Climate controlled
Whatever disappointments JSU fans have had in past homecomings, Burgess-Snow Stadium has been a happy place this season and was again for this season’s homecoming.
The Gamecocks didn’t save homecoming for Nov. 10, against an Austin Peay team that has lost its last 10 games. Instead, they declared homecoming for a game against one of the Ohio Valley Conference’s most prolific offenses and won.
They won dramatically, holding off Murray State quarterback Casey Brockman and the Racers’ frenetic office at the end of a game that saw four ties.
JSU has won that way a lot in its four home games this season, with Griffin Thomas field goals providing the difference in victories over Chattanooga, Tennessee State and Murray State. His game-winners against Chattanooga and TSU were walk-offs.
JSU also beat Southeast Missouri State 31-16 at home, so the home faithful have had a lot to enjoy. That means something anywhere but more so in FCS, where not every game is televised and details of road games often come by radio and/or the printed word.
Congrats to JSU coach Jack Crowe on his 100th victory as a head coach.
Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.