The one thing that makes sports so unique is how intoxicating it can be on both ends. The highs of the wins, the lows of the losses, and the lows never really offset the highs, but the highs are good enough that you go on and risk the lows happening because of that feeling.
This article was supposed to be about the devaluing of the regular season, how Saturday night in Oxford was ostensibly a playoff game to stay alive for the playoffs because college football now allows four teams in rather than two.
It was supposed to be about two current titans of the sport playing entertaining football with everything on the line.
Then, Laquon Treadwell happened. Then, Auburn beat Ole Miss the way it did.
Sports is cruel, and it was especially cruel on Saturday night in Oxford, no matter what side you were on. For Ole Miss, losing a football game at home under your own lights on two effort-play turnovers inside the Auburn 10-yard line is a punch to the gut. What’s the message … what if you don’t go as hard and try to make the play?
That’s some of the toughest stuff to coach in sport. You play, you teach, you strive to give all the effort on every play, and sometimes, as in this case, it costs you. What’s the solution? How many times do we see a play like Bo Wallace’s fumble not happen, and a team can’t get the one or two yards to win the game?
How many times do we see a catch like Treadwell’s end at the one or two and not end up getting in?
We see it plenty. None of this is to take away from Auburn, mind you, which in its own right was in the right place still giving effort at the right time on its own end, and that’s why the turnovers happened.
You wish it ended another way, however. In one play, Ole Miss went from what was potentially a shocking comeback victory on a yeoman’s effort after the catch by Treadwell to losing one of its best players for the season and then, after a review, the game.
This was some serious Bryce Drew-style shade thrown at the Rebels’ fan base on an emotional level.
Treadwell’s injury was horrid to watch. Whoever was commentating the game astutely said afterwards that “We don’t need to see that again.” The television crew responded, of course, by showing it about 17 more times, though the fumble played into that a bit.
Treadwell is on to rehab and hopefully getting his NFL-guaranteed career back on track. Ole Miss is on to a week of “what if.” Auburn is on to the next leg of yet another potential championship run.
On Auburn for a second …
Credit the Tigers for getting this game played at their pace. If this thing is a 20-17 style joint, Ole Miss probably wins. Yet, Auburn found ways to score and keep it one of those games it would rather play. The Tigers have their issues. They too often fail to rush the passer worth a damn. They can be cut up in the secondary.
However, their offense gets you to play the way they want you to play. They make you drink from their keg, the beer they want to buy.
The stats aren’t eye popping for any player. Sammie Coates was special, but he normally is. Nick Marshall was sort of mediocre, but had enough when he had to have enough. Auburn moves on.
In the end, it’s one of those games that was an epic watch and the reason you sit around the tube on Saturday grinding over these games, but it felt sad to see it end how it did.
Not the fumble. Those things happen. The injury.
These guys give all they have every week, like there’s no tomorrow. It’s what makes it great. With just over a minute left in Oxford Saturday night, it’s also what makes it tough sometimes. Intoxicating, all the same.