AUBURN, Ala.—I asked Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham to explain how he felt on Jan. 8 while watching Georgia and Alabama play for the CFP national championship.

“Surreal,” said the transfer from Baylor. “It was kind of surreal.”

Here’s why:

For 14 days during the 2017 season Auburn was on top of the college football world. The Tigers beat No. 1 Georgia (40-17) on Nov. 11 and on Nov. 25 beat No. 1 Alabama (26-14). The victory over Alabama, which went on to win the national championship, was especially impressive. Both games were in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“We were the best team in the country that day,” said Stidham of the Alabama game. “No doubt.”

But with running Kerryon Johnson at way less than 100 percent (shoulder, ribs), Auburn lost the rematch to Georgia (28-7) in the SEC championship game on Dec. 2. Then in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl the Tigers caught an undefeated UCF team with a whole lot to prove and lost 34-27. Then Auburn’s players, coaches, and fans had to sit at home and watch their two biggest rivals play for the national championship, knowing they had beaten them both.

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