Thursday, December 9, 2010
Behind The Scoreboard
If last weekend was the weekend of rivalries then this was the weekend of championships, at all levels of football (except the NFL and maybe one golf). Secondary level teams throughout Mississippi finished up their quests for the prize at the top of the heap and there were a few new records.
The one golf mentioned above was the Chevron World Challenge (men, there was also the LPGA Tour of Champions at Orlando, Fla) at Thousand Oaks, Calif. This was the last in the 2010 campaign and the one which has been dubbed the “Tiger Woods Challenge” since he has practically owned it. Tiger didn’t play in the last two preceding 2010 because of surgery (2008) and family problems (2009).
It finally looked as if the Tiger was going to end his year-long winning drought when he went into Sunday’s final round four strokes ahead of his closest competitor, Graeme McDowell. Both had left the remainder of the field of 18 far behind and went into a sudden death play-off hole after a tie in the last round. McDowell came out on top in the $5 million purse event.
But the attention was not on the golf world. Everybody had been waiting for the SEC showdown between the number one Auburn Tigers and the number 10 South Carolina Gamecocks. Like a bolt out of the blue, the word came down late Wednesday of last week that the star quarterback of the Tigers had been cleared to play. The cloud of doubt had been removed, which had cast a shadow far beyond the SEC championship.
It was perhaps a foregone conclusion that Auburn would come out of the fray undefeated and unbowed. However, given the facts that the Gamecocks have a master tactician for a mentor and were playing in their first SEC championship ever, a blowout was not expected. Maybe it was the fact that there were no outside distractions – enabling the Tigers to just take over in the first quarter and go on from there. It was the first game in the last four where they didn’t have to make up a deficit in the second half. The Gamecocks did not tuck their feathers and leave. They stayed at the plow, but the Tigers were set on extending the SEC run for national titles.
Auburn will now face the Oregon Ducks, which will be making their first appearance in a championship game. The Ducks are also undefeated this season and have a good track record. And they are going to need all of their stars on January 10 when they face the Auburn Tigers and their Heisman Trophy-winning signal caller.
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