Tide, Tigers get into meat of schedule

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Southern California-Notre Dame game was a nice appetizer for college football fans to sink their teeth into last week.

But here in Alabama, the meat and potatoes of the college football season will be served up this weekend when Tennessee visits Bryant-Denny Stadium and when Auburn travels to Death Valley to face LSU.

Sure last week's game in South Bend drew some great water-cooler debates over which regular-season game has been the best in the last 35 years. And questions have surfaced regarding how long will the Trojans' consecutive win streak will hold.

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But that's for the folks outside of Alabama's state line to talk about. Here in this state, that debate ended about midnight on Saturday when Auburn rolled to an expected thumping at Arkansas.

For the rest of the week, you won't hear much chatter at the water cooler about Matt Leinart's choice to go for the win instead of spike the ball, kick a chipshot field goal and take his chances in overtime.

No, within the boundaries of this state all eyes are on Auburn and Alabama.

While the poll voters don't have them neck and neck, they stand that way in the SEC West division. Should they win out the rest of the way, it would set up for one of the most dramatic Iron Bowls in recent years.

Never in the history of the SEC Championship game have Auburn and Alabama had a berth in the SEC title game on the line when the Iron Bowl was being played.

But that scenario is certainly a reality should the Tide take care of business, and Auburn let LSU give the game away to them like it the Bayou Bengals tried to do last Saturday against Florida.

Sure it may be a bit presumptuous to say that the SEC West will be represented by the Iron Bowl champ if both Auburn and Alabama win this weekend. But the possibility is there.

Before the season started no one ever dreamed that this year's Iron Bowl could come down to that.

The most optimistic Alabama fan had the Crimson Tide somewhere in the mix for the SEC West title. It would all hinge on the health of Brodie Croyle and other key players for the Tide.

Alabama did take a huge hit when Tyrone Prothro broke his leg in the Florida game, but the Tide showed signs of a championship-quality team on Saturday by edging Ole Miss.

On the other side of the state, Auburn has been doing what it's been doing for the last 13 straight conference games and that's win.

The Tigers face their biggest test so far in the season with the upcoming trip to Baton Rouge.

The question among Auburn fans this Saturday will be which offense will show up? Will it be the offense that turned the ball over twice, leading to 10 points in Fayetteville, Ark.? Or will it be the offense that played nearly perfect in the second half, scoring four touchdowns on its first four drives of the half against Arkansas?

Should Auburn escape from the Bayou with a win, the hurdle just gets taller. Georgia lies waiting in the wings before the table can even be set for a possible SEC West title game.

Until then, I've got my fork and knife ready to dig into those meat and potatoes that will be served up this weekend.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.