Archived Story

10 days and counting until Christmas comes early

Published 10:00am Wednesday, August 20, 2014

By Andy Graham
Outlook Sports Columnist

We are now T-minus 10 days and counting until the Auburn Tigers kickoff their 2014 season against the Arkansas Razorbacks at 3 p.m. on August 30th in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
That’s a mere 240 hrs., 14,400 minutes or 864,000 seconds (give or take a few, but who’s counting).
Not that you could tell, but I’m mildly excited about this upcoming game, and it can’t get here fast enough.
This is as close as it gets for me as an adult to what Christmas morning used to be like when I was a kid.
December 24 was always the most difficult night of the year to try and make myself go to sleep.
My brother, sister and I would wake up at the crack of dawn, gather ourselves at the end of the hall and race down into the living room to see what treasures awaited us.
“Santa” never wrapped our presents, so it was like getting everything all at once in one euphoric moment.
It was glorious.
I probably won’t get much sleep next Friday night. I’ll toss and turn like I do every year contemplating all the scenarios of what could go wrong on Saturday.
I’ll figure out a way in my mind that Arkansas could actually beat Auburn by three touchdowns.
I’ll quickly convince myself that’s just a foolish nightmare scenario and then logically remind myself of why Auburn will win the game.
When Saturday morning finally arrives, the joyful childlike excitement begins to build.
I don’t often wear orange pants, so there’s something special about putting them on. It unmistakably means it’s game day.
The ride over to campus, which is a route taken quite often, is different on this day.
Orange and blue-clad people are everywhere tailgating and there’s a palpable buzz flowing throughout the city.
The excitement continues to build. The trek to the stadium from the parking lot invokes every emotion one can have.
I see pretty girls in sundresses. I smell food cooking on a charcoal grill, and I hear music blaring.  It’s almost time.
I enter the stadium and my excitement level is beginning to simmer.
Climbing the incline that leads to the field for the first game of the season is like running down my hallway back home. I see the immaculate green grass, the scoreboard and the players warming up on the field.
The student section is all accounted for and there’s electricity in the air.  It’s Christmas all over again.
I was never disappointed one single time on Christmas Day. I always got far more than I ever deserved.
Unfortunately, I’ve been disappointed several times on opening day. I don’t think I ever remember an Auburn crowd (myself included) more keyed up for an opener than in 2003.
The highly-hyped Tigers welcomed in Southern Cal and were taken to the woodshed 23-0.
I was very excited in 2005 after an undefeated season in 2004.  Again, the Tigers came up short in the opener, losing against Georgia Tech 23-14.  I don’t think that’s going to happen this time.
Auburn has had injuries that have frustrated their progress defensively, but nothing major.
Nick Marshall won’t start game one, but he’s the undisputed leader of this team.
The Tigers have one of the most difficult schedules in the country.
All these things are true, but I believe Gus Malzahn and this senior class have unfinished business and nothing is going to stand in their way.
Graham is a sports columnist for The Outlook.

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