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Hopeful McCarthyism: the 2014 Missouri game

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"And so these parties divided upon that midnight plain, each passing back the way the other had come, pursuing as all travelers must inversions without end upon other men's journeys."
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Yesterday, SEC Network was airing last season's Mizzou game and it evoked some parallels to Cormac McCarthy.

Much of Aggie Football in recent memory can invoke these similarities: the dizzying heights of pleasure followed by brutal agony and despair. Jagged peaks and valleys set amidst the savage landscape of the SEC West.

"Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that. You forget some things, dont you? Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget."  ― Cormac McCarthy, The Road

But this game was particularly McCarthyistic. We were ranked again, in mid-November. We'd just beaten Auburn on the road. Confidence abounded in the harsh lights of Kyle Field (more hostile for us in 2014 than the road) as we went toe to toe with the cream of the SEC East for the first 40 minutes of the game. There was the stark beauty of well-timed catch-and-runs by Josh Reynolds, striding lankily into the end zone. Juxtaposed against that was the helpless feeling of despair as Mizzouri running backs sliced through our hapless defenders. Then the last third of the third quarter induced a despair in the pit of the stomach that could crush any feeling of hope among rational minds. We'd seen it before, and we are not completely rational-minded.

"Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real."  ― Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

And that's the world McCarthy creates: the perseverance of mankind's hopes in the midst of a crippling display of horror: bloody violence, corruption, and evil nature. His characters carry a spark of hope buried deep in all that baggage, so that even when the story ends with the bad guys on top there are still small fissures in their foundation of control. We'd lose the next week too, but we were in it until the end against LSU. We'd win the bowl game after that. Hope builds.

"You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday don't count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else."  ― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

In the larger picture, it is just a game. It began as a simple distraction enacted by young men for our entertainment. But what it has grown into, through no fault of the participants, has become out of their or anyone's control.

"There is no such joy in the tavern as upon the road thereto."  ― Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

In August, football is everything. By the end, it always turns to joy.