College Sports

As good a day as it was, better are sure to come

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A blueprint for the perfect football Saturday in Tuscaloosa:

Wake up at 9 a.m., shower and put on favorite jean shorts, a ‘‘Got Nick?’’ T-shirt and a straw hat just like coach wears on the practice field. Work on perfecting Nick Saban scowl in the bathroom mirror while shaving.

Settle in to watch ESPN’s ‘‘College GameDay’’ over breakfast. Listen to Lee Corso sign off on an Alabama over Arkansas prediction.

Enjoy two slabs of ribs during a leisurely lunch at Dreamland.

Catch a quick glance at the TV in the corner and notice that Auburn’s offense is looking even more miserable than usual against Mississippi State of all teams.

Celebrate the development by licking excess Dreamland sauce off fingers.

Bathe self with moist towelettes and head to campus for tailgating.

Scan the radio dial and catch the waning moments of the Auburn-Mississippi State game. Suddenly, the traffic doesn’t seem so bad.

Listen to the Auburn postgame show and hear coach Tommy Tuberville say, ‘‘We are not going to panic,’’ and nod knowingly because Mike Shula probably said the very same thing after he got ‘‘Croomed.’’

Smile, because it happened to them this time. Switch off car radio and pop in Lynyrd Skynyrd CD. Play it on a continuous loop at full blast.

Begin to wonder if the Auburn president and athletic director will hop aboard an airplane and visit Bobby Petrino again. Maybe they’ll drive when the time comes since he lives so much closer to Auburn now. Wonder which would be tougher: Building an offense around Brandon Cox or Joey Harrington?

Set up tailgating in time to catch the Florida-Tennessee game late in the first half. Lament not bringing laptop in order to bait Tennessee fans engaged in a cyberspace meltdown on various message boards. Wonder if it’ll be too late to counter the ‘‘Fire Phil Fulmer Now’’ message board threads with a ‘‘Keep Phil Fulmer’’ message board thread in the morning.

Get back to the grilling. Say a silent prayer that Urban Meyer leaves his starters in and breaks 60.

After the burgers, brats and Golden Flake chips, douse the charcoal and head to the stadium with camera in hand. Take photos of every Alabama football plaque, bust, banner or monument en route.

Arrive at stadium gate two hours later. Settle into seat in time to hear the Florida-Tennessee score being read over the public address system. Curse Urban Meyer for stopping at 59 points and plot the ways in which Alabama might exact revenge during their inevitable SEC championship game meeting.

Wake up from daydream in time to see Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson throw the first of his two first-quarter touchdown passes. Revel in the fact the DJ Hall has four catches, 118 yards and two TDs in the first quarter and wonder how many months of therapy the Arkansas cornerbacks will need because of it.

Express relief that a 21-0 lead should make Arkansas running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones irrelevant. Just the way the Bear planned it. Check that — just the way Nick Saban planned it. Still trying to adjust to the present.

Spend second and third quarters reminiscing about previous Alabama teams.

Awaken in the fourth quarter to the reality of Arkansas 38, Alabama 31.

Silently curse Nick Saban’s defense. Struggle to comprehend McFadden’s rushing stats — 33 carries, 195 yards, two touchdowns.

After seeing McFadden and Arkansas get McFlattened in the first half, wonder how in the heck this could possibly have McHappened.

See the field goal team trot out with Alabama down by a touchdown and 4:25 left. Add your voice to the chorus of boos before regaining composure.

Trust in Nick Saban’s defense with 4:20 left and a four-point deficit.

Watch Alabama force a punt and Wilson move the Tide down the field with the help of two pivotal pass interference calls.

Explode off the ground just as Matt Caddell leaps to grab a 4-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left.

Wonder why some fans were booing Saban’s decision to kick the field goal on the previous drive because it’s obvious he’s a genius.

Wonder which was the day’s most satisfying development:

The ribs at Dreamland?

The Tigers’ embarrassing loss to Mississippi State?

The Vols’ crushing loss to Florida?

The 41-38 Alabama win over Arkansas?

How about this? The sudden sensation that the last outcome won’t represent Alabama’s most exciting or important moment of this season.

Contact Troy Johnson at 706-320-4432 or johnsont@ledger-enquirer.com

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