The Western Division Briar Patch
War Eagle, everybody! Today, we'll continue our look back at what the Auburn Tiger football team accomplished in the past decade. The subject of this post will be the bulk of Auburn's Western Division opponents: Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss. Next week will feature Auburn vs. BCS title winners in the SEC.
The West has usually been a division that eats its own. Auburn won the division in 2000, despite a loss to Mississippi State. LSU started the 2001 SEC campaign 0-3, before rebounding to win the league title. LSU survived two overtime losses in 2007 to win not only the division, but the SEC and BCS titles. Only two years in the decade produced a Western Division team with no losses: 2004 and 2009.
Auburn has an even record against the Hogs, but has taken more lopsided beatdowns from the Hogs than any other team in the 2000s.
2000 (In Auburn) Auburn dominated time of possession in the first half, but was tied at 14 at the half, thanks in part to an 80-yard run by the Razorback's Fred Talley. Late in the 3rd quarter, a Clifton Robinson end around gave Auburn the lead back. The Razorbacks tried to answer, but reserve quarterback Zac Clark tossed two interceptions in the late going, and Auburn held on, 21-19.
2001 (In Fayetteville) Auburn had trouble all day stopping the Razorback option attack led by Matt Jones. The Tigers closed to within 14-10 near the half, but a failed throw-away by Daniel Cobb was picked off and run down to the Auburn 16. Arkansas scored, and led 21-10 at the half. Auburn turned to Carnell Williams in the second half, and the Cadillac bolted for a 55 yard score. Auburn pulled to within 21-17, but a 4th quarter meltdown doomed the Tigers to a blow-out loss. The Razorback option resulted in a quick score to open the 4th quarter, then another a few minutes later. An 88-yard interception return made the final score Arkansas 42, Auburn 17.
2002 (In Auburn) The Tigers hoped to turn things around at home, and actually led 17-14 in the second quarter. The collapse started then, and Arkansas scored twice in the waning moments of the half, and led 24-17. Auburn could do absolutely nothing on offense in the second half, and took a 38-17 beating at home.
2003 (In Fayetteville) Arkansas was the undefeated, 7th ranked defending West Champ, but could not crack the tough Auburn defense. Razorback quarterback Matt Jones managed 59 rushing yards, and 168 passing, but had no scores. A 6-yard Carnell Williams run just before halftime was all the scoring the Tigers would need. Auburn held on to win, 10-3.
2004 (In Auburn) The Tigers opened with a bang in this one, with an end around/flea-flicker pass from Jason Campbell to Devin Aromashodu for a 67 yard TD. The Tigers led 17-0 at the end of the first quarter, and 30-0 in the 2nd. The Tigers then eased back on the throttle, and coasted to a 38-20 win.
2005 (In Fayetteville) The Tigers suffered the first-half doldrums in their first road game of the season, and trailed the Razorbacks 10-6 at the half. Kenny Irons ran wild in the second half, racking up 182 yards. Auburn slammed in 4 second half TDs, and won 34-17.
2006 (In Auburn) The Tigers' BCS hopes took a hit in an early game in Jordan Hare. Two Auburn defenders fell down on a 50 yard TD pass for the Razorbacks, then the Auburn defense parted like the Red Sea on a handoff up the middle to Darren McFadden. The Tiger offense completely stalled in the second half, and Auburn lost an ugly 27-10 decision at home.
2007 (In Fayetteville) Still stinging from the game a year ago, this edition of the Auburn defense slammed the door on star Arkansas tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. The celebrated pair only combined for 85 yards. Arkansas briefly took a 7-6 lead in the 4th quarter, on a Casey Dick to Lucas Miller TD toss with 1:36 remaining in the game. Auburn answered with a long drive, and a game-winning Wes Byrum field goal. The Tigers prevailed 9-7.
2008 (In Auburn) Auburn suffered a tumultuous week prior to this game, as offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was fired. Auburn led for most of the game, but the Razorbacks piled up the yards through the air and on the ground. Auburn could not hold in the 4th quarter, and missed on a pair of scoring opportunities. Arkansas held on for the 25-22 win.
2009 (In Fayetteville) Auburn's early-game curse continued as the Tigers could do little right in the first half. Arkansas had the commanding 27-3 lead at the break. In the third quarter, the Razorbacks extended the lead on a long drive after a Ben Tate fumble. Tate then ran wild, and Auburn reeled off 3 consecutive touchdowns to close within 34-23. The 4th quarter was all Arkansas, and they polished off a 44-23 win.
Mississippi State (8-2)
MSU entered the decade riding high, and fell rapidly to the cellar.
2000 (In Starkville) The Tigers came in with a game plan to run Rudi Johnson early and often. The Bulldogs countered with a nine-man line. Auburn failed to generate even one first down in the first half. The Bulldogs led 17-0, but were content to sit on the lead in the second half. After a dropped punt snap in the 4th quarter, Auburn closed to within 17-10, but the Bulldogs slammed the door. The game ended with MSU taking a knee at the Auburn 11 yard line. MSU won their 4th straight over the Tigers, 17-10.
2001 (In Auburn) Auburn scored early on a 50-yard bolt from Cassinius Moore, and then suffered the doldrums for 3 quarters. Mississippi State entered the 4th quarter with a 14-7 lead, but Auburn desperately clawed to a pair of field goals. Auburn gutted it down the field one more time, and Damon Duval knocked in a 47-yard field goal with 18 seconds left in the game. Auburn eeked out the win, 16-14.
2002 (In Starkville) Auburn quarterback Daniel Cobb missed his first nine passes, and Auburn trailed 7-0 early. Then Cobb got hot, hitting for 3 second quarter TD passes. Auburn racked up 597 total yards, and cruised to a 42-14 win over the Bulldogs.
2003 (In Auburn) In the game-opening drive, Carnell Williams cracked over several MSU defenders for a 72-yard TD run. Williams romped for a record breaking 6 TDs on the day, and Auburn rolled, 45-13.
2004 (In Starkville) This game was a dropped ball extravaganza for the Tigers, but fortunately Auburn also was good for many 20-yard runs on 2nd and 10. The out-manned Bulldogs did not put up much of a fight. Auburn led 21-0 at the half, and 43-0 early in the 4th quarter. Two late meaningless Bulldog scored made the final Auburn 43, MSU 14.
2005 (In Auburn) The emphasis on this game for the Tigers was to find a running back out of 4 candidates. Despite only moderate rushing success, the Tigers kept pounding it, and ground out a 28-0 win. Kenny Irons and Brad Lester emerged from the pack in the running back race.
2006 (In Starkville) Neither team impressed on offense, but the Bulldogs were also giving the Tigers the ball with good field position. A shanked punt set up a TD pass from Brandon Cox to Gabe McKenzie. Then SenDerrick Marks stripped MSU Quarterback Tray Rutland of the ball, and the Tigers recovered at the one. Brad Lester punched that one in, and the Tigers led 17-0 at the half. MSU woes continued in the second half, as Auburn limited the Bulldogs to only 161 total yards. The Tigers won 34-0.
2007 (In Auburn) Auburn allowed a long field goal drive to open the game, then Brandon Cox threw a pass that deflected off the hands of Cole Bennett, and was returned for a Bulldog TD by Derek Pegues. A second Cox interception resulted in a 13-0 Bulldog lead, and there was panic on the Auburn coaching staff. True freshman quarterback Kodi Burns was inserted into the lineup, and ran the zone read to two second quarter TDs. Auburn led 14-13 at the half, but the Bulldogs adjusted, and Auburn went nowhere in the second half. MSU drove down the field in the 4th quarter to take a 19-14 lead on an Anthony Dixon run. Auburn sent Brandon Cox back in, and tried the last-ditch drive. Auburn ran out of downs at the Bulldog 9 yard line, and lost 19-14.
2008 (In Starkville) This was perhaps the ugliest SEC football game of the decade. Auburn held the Bulldogs to only 116 total yards, while managing 315. The Tigers could do nothing in the red zone. A holding penalty on Auburn in the end zone gave MSU their only points. Auburn scraped out a 3-2 win on the road.
2009 (In Auburn) Auburn got off to a fast start on offense, and a 14-0 lead early. MSU answered, and a blocked punt touchdown put the Bulldogs ahead 17-14 in the second quarter. Auburn struck for two late offensive TDs, and led 28-17 at the half. The onslaught continued in the second half, as Auburn racked up 589 yards, 390 on the ground. Auburn prevailed, 49-24.
Historically, the Rebels have been Auburn's favorite Western Division team to play. The Rebels have managed only 4 wins over Auburn in the last 40 years.
2000 (In Oxford) The Rebels were heavily favored in this one, undefeated and ranked 18th in the nation. It was the Tigers, however, jumping out to a 21-7 first half lead. Ole Miss surged in the 3rd quarter to a 27-21 lead, but the 4th quarter was all Auburn. A 4th down, 42 yard Rudi Johnson run gave Auburn the lead back. The Tigers held the ball over nine of the final fifteen minutes, and won 35-27.
2001 (In Auburn) The Tigers started slow on offense, but held the Eli Manning-led Rebel offense scoreless for two quarters. Auburn wore down the Rebel defense, and led 27-0 in the 3rd quarter. Manning then sparked a huge comeback, and Auburn was left to barely run the clock out at the end. Auburn hung on, 27-21.
2002 (In Oxford) Auburn dominated the first half, but the 14-3 lead at the break was hardly comfortable. Ole Miss caught fire in the second half, and Eli Manning sparked 3 TD drives. This game, however, is remembered more for the TDs Manning DIDN'T generate. Auburn scored a safety when Manning was stepped on by one of his own linemen, then Auburn free safety Tavarious Robinson came up with a game-saving interception in the end zone late. Auburn hung on, 31-24.
2003 (In Auburn) Manning and company were hard to hold down. The game see-sawed back and forth. Auburn seemingly had the game won when they forced a 3rd and 5 late, and got a huge rush on Eli Manning. The Tigers led 20-17 at that point, and Ole Miss was running out of time. Backpedaling, Manning heaved up a prayer that was caught for 48 yards by the fullback Townsend. Ole Miss punched in the TD with 2 minutes left. Auburn tried to answer. A bubble screen to Ben Obomanu picked up 51 yards and put the Tigers in first and goal. Dropped balls in the end zone on 3rd and 4th down doomed the Tigers. Ole Miss prevailed, 24-20.
2004 (In Oxford) The first half was a defensive struggle, as Ole Miss camped out in the Tiger backfield. The Rebels were playing quarterback roulette, and could do little either. A Jason Campbell sneak ended the first half with Auburn leading 7-0. In the second half, Ole Miss came up with a few big plays, but Auburn had more. The Tigers expanded to a 35-14 win.
2005 (In Auburn) Both teams struggled to move the ball in this one, but an end-around pass from Courtney Taylor to Devin Aromashodu broke the ice. Auburn shut down Ole Miss, holding the Rebels to only 23 rushing yards. Auburn cruised to a 27-3 win.
2006 (In Oxford) Defense was again the watch word of the first half. After a 7-7 halftime tie, Auburn opened things up in the 3rd quarter, with 10 points. Auburn put together two long field goal drives in the 4th quarter, and held off Ole Miss 23-17.
2007 (In Auburn) It was another low-scoring Tigers-Rebels bash in 2007. Ole Miss managed only a long field goal on the last play of the first half. Auburn ground out a tough 17-3 win.
2008 (In Oxford) Ole Miss stuggled on offense, with Jevan Snead throwing wildly. Auburn had their best passing game of the year, but had trouble finding the end zone. The Tiger defense wilted late, and Ole Miss won 17-7.
2009 (In Auburn) Ole Miss scored early, but the Jevan Snead mistakes mounted. Auburn took advantage of a blown coverage for a Chris Todd to Darvin Adams TD bomb, and led at the half 10-7. Auburn attacked in the 3rd quarter, scoring first on a wildcat TD pass from Kodi Burns to Tommy Trott. Then Auburn's Walter McFadden turned in a pick-six. Finally, Ben Tate turned the corner for a 31-7 lead. It was short lived, as Ole Miss ran the kickoff back. On the next Rebel possession, Dexter McCluster romped 79 yards for a TD. Ole Miss looked to pull within 10, but the extra point was blocked, and Demond Washington took it the other way for an Auburn two pointer. Jevan Snead was awful in the 4th quarter, and the lead held. Auburn won, 33-20.