Auburn might be leading an even more charmed football life than Mizzou

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Cripes, even Google has doubts.

About 19,500,000 results is what the first line on

the page says after you type in the words “Auburn” and “luck” in the box

at the top and hit the little blue button.

 
“There are guys in their locker room, I

would assume, (who) are the only guys that believed in them when the

season started,” Missouri wideout L’Damian Washington says when asked

about the Tigers, Mizzou’s dance partner

Saturday.
 
“Whenever you have something like

this, something special happens. You saw it against Alabama

and at the Georgia game. The team has a special mojo going

for them right now. We have the same thing going right now. We’re a team

that definitely believes and has a lot of confidence going for us right

now.”
 
Two schools, same journey. Two

Cinderellas, same ball.
 
Welcome to The

Charmed Life Bowl, better known as the 2013 SEC Championship

Game.
 
Hard-line, old-school SEC types —

especially the ones in Gainesville and Athens — will grit their teeth

and swear that MU coach Gary Pinkel must’ve been walking around with

rabbit’s feet in both pockets the way Missouri’s foes seemed to get

softened up, week after week, by devastating injury after devastating

injury.
 
But that’s nothing compared with

what they say about Auburn in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge these

days.
 
Texas A&M? Scored the

game-winner with 1:19 to spare.
 
Mississippi

State? Ditto, only with 10 seconds left on the

clock.
 
Georgia? A Hail Mary. No. A

deflected Hail Mary. No, not even that. A Hail Mary

that got batted into the air and into the arms of a Tigers receiver only

because two Bulldog defenders ran into each other on the play rather

than securing a lollipop that should’ve been an

interception.
 
Alabama? Nick Saban has four

— FOUR! — national titles, and even he may not be able to

shake the unholy stigma of The Kick Six.
 
“I

think you create your own luck,” Pinkel told reporters Monday. “You get

a play here or something happens, but they’re a great football team.

You kidding me?”
 
Saturday’s matchup in

Atlanta may be as wacky as it is unlikely — Mizzou was 2-6 in the SEC a

year ago; Auburn 0-8 — but, on at least two levels, it’s kind of

fitting, too.
 
We’ve got strength against

strength, pitting the SEC’s top rushing offense (Auburn, 318.3 yards per

game) with its read-option trickery, against the SEC’s No. 2 rushing

defense (Mizzou, 119.1 yards allowed per game) with its sack-happy

defensive-end tandem of Michael Sam and Kony

Ealy.
 
And we’ve got two sets of Tigers,

neither of whom has any concept of what it means to

quit.
 
“When we lost to LSU (on Sept. 21,

Auburn’s only defeat), I think that our team really found ourselves,”

fullback Jay Prosch says. “Because, even though we lost that

game, we fought to the very end and had a chance to win that game and

never gave up. And I think that (we) knew we were going to fight every

game. After that, that’s what we did.

 
“When we lost to LSU, that’s when we

decided that’s who we were and after that, we knew we were going to

fight to the end, no matter what.”
 
In tilts

decided by eight points or less, Auburn is 5-0 this fall; the Tigers

were 1-3 in those situations a year ago. You know what they say about

repetition, right?
 
After a while, it

becomes a habit.
 
“I think it is unique and

it is rare that you have teams that believe they are going to win no

matter how bad it looks,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn told The Associated

Press this week. “They still have bright eyes and belief in each other

and that is what our guys have found a way to do. We talked all week

before last week’s game that we have to get it close to the fourth

quarter and we will win the game. And they believed it and they found a

way to do it.”

Mizzou lost three games by eight

points or fewer a year ago. This fall? Just

one.

“Coming off of last year, we had a terrible

season, and they didn’t have a great one, (either),” Auburn tailback

Corey Grant says. “Just to see us in this position, and see them, it’s

kind of weird, but that’s just how the SEC goes.

“You

never know from year to year who’s going to be in the title

game.”

You make your own luck. And your own stinking

destiny.

You can follow Sean Keeler

on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at

seanmkeeler@gmail.com.