On the schedule for the upcoming weekend, there are two premier games that stand out. On Saturday, Alabama will travel to Gainesville for an SEC showdown, while Auburn heads north to Penn State.
Now, looking at both matchups, a part of me is excited to see what Auburn can do against a Penn State team that is coming off wins against Wisconsin and Ball State. The Tigers enter the game as -5.5 point underdogs, according to FanDuel.com. But for me, it’s not just the matchup, it’s the atmosphere. The Tigers are walking into a “Whiteout” on Saturday night in Happy Valley, and we all know what that type of environment will bring. Imagine the intro ending and the camera shots cutting to the crazy student section and patches of Auburn fans who made the trip. It will truly be electric and an atmosphere I want to be a part of.
Nowadays, schools would rather take the fat check that comes with playing neutral site games and put the home-and-home scheduling on the back burner. But not this weekend. Bryan Harsin will take Bo Nix and this Tigers offense into enemy territory. Oh, and in case you haven’t paid much attention to the team on the Plains, Auburn is capable of going into Happy Valley and escaping with a win. Give Bo Nix enough time to find his receivers, avoid the Nittany Lions’ pass rush and this could turn into a battle. Hell, things have already started on Twitter, as Penn St. head coach James Franklin has already gotten Auburn fans thinking he’s talking trash about Brian Harsin.
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— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) September 13, 2021
Brian Harsin discussed the hostile environment and crowd noise they are walking into on Saturday night.
“The crowd noise, there’s a lot of different ways. And it’s interesting because you get on a new staff, everybody’s done things differently. And so, I’ve actually kind of enjoyed hearing of the different ways that people have prepared for the noise. But ultimately, we have a speaker system and all that. I don’t think that we’re going to get it exactly the way it’s going to be on game night. But we’ll crank the music up or the sound and the crowd noise, the music, whatever it is that we have to use to make it very loud. And then we’re going to have to simulate a little bit that we can’t hear at certain times so be ready for that.
Harsin added, “And there’s an energy and an excitement. I think this is part of what makes college football, and just football in general, so special is you get playing environments like that.”
Back down south, as the boys from Kings of Leon like to say, it’s a battle between the Gators and Crimson Tide. Alabama, coming off a thrashing of Miami and Mercer, will head to Gainesville as -15 point favorites, according to FanDuel.com.
Looking at this game from 20,000 feet, what’s not to love. These are the types of games that we live for in college football. It has the big fight feel, no matter what the spread might look like at kickoff. As for the Gators, this is the early season test that will tell us whether they have a shot at representing the East in Atlanta.
One of the intriguing storylines heading into this game is the health of backup QB Anthony Richardson. Yes, I am talking about the backup. If you saw him play the past two games, then you know he could be a factor, if healthy. Dan Mullen met with the media on Monday afternoon to discuss his football team and their health. Richardson was brought up specifically, as he deals with a “hamstring” issue.
“I think he’s doing good,” Mullen said. “Saw him today watching the film. He kind of had some tightness in his hamstring. He’ll do treatment and we’ll see how he’ll be this week. We expect him to practice and we’ll see how he comes along at practice and deals with it during the week.”
The uncertainty of which Emory Jones will show up for these games has to be concerning for Mullen and fans. He has been very late on a bunch of throws and has made some mistakes that left many scratching their head. This Gators offense will have to be clicking on every single cylinder if they are going to pull off the upset on Saturday, which is common for any opponent of Alabama.
Speaking of Alabama, the team received some good news on Monday, as Nick Saban said LB Will Anderson is day-to-day. You could hear the audible gasp from Tide fans this past weekend when Anderson went down, so it sounds like he’s making a speedy recovery. Now, some bad news for the Florida offense. Saban announced on Monday that starting cornerbacks Josh Jobe and Jaylin Armour-Davis are expected to practice. If the Tide get both of their corners back this weekend, that will spell bad news for the Gators wide receivers.
We could discuss the prominent Alabama offense, led by QB Bryce Young, who went off again this past weekend. But this has the making of those old-school SEC matchups that we pray turns into a good game as the clock ticks in the fourth quarter. My hope is that when the Florida crowd breaks out the Tom Petty at the end of the 3rd quarter, we have at least a 10-point game.
The Gators mantra this week should definitely be “I won’t back down,” while the Auburn Tigers should roll into Happy Valley “Feelin’ Alright.”
I know it’s early in the week, but bring on the craziness. Oh, and since these spreads will most likely change, you might wanna lock your bets in at FanDuel.com.