Social Media has added a whole new component to watching football games. Even if you're watching at home by yourself, you can still join in the elation or misery of fellow fans around the world when something big happens. Your family may even film your reactions and put it on YouTube.
Nowhere was the phenomenon more visible than the ending of the 2013 Iron Bowl. That link is SB Nation's day-after collection of reactions. It sparked all sorts of insanity all over Twitter in particular.
Whether this is something you enjoy about the game or not depends largely on you. I know plenty of people who are not on Twitter or Facebook and are clueless about the way big game situations cause "trending" topics and "break the internet" to put it in recent parlance.
So what Auburn games from years past may possibly have created that type of reaction all over the internet? I chose game that included massive moments/swings, not just a big rivalry game. Also, it must have occurred prior to the 2007 creation of Twitter. Facebook existed before then, but even with the most recent game on my list (2005), Facebook didn't really have the "status" portion and "News Feed" in their network yet, so Social Media commentary on big events didn't exist. Many of them are, as you would expect, Iron Bowls.
Here is a list of five games I came up with off the top of my head. In descending order.
5) The Kick
1985 Iron Bowl
Yes, I had to include an Auburn loss. Auburn has been lucky in that there aren't too many plays like this to choose from against us. There's the Earthquake Game, this one, and I'm sure some others, but most of the "single play changes game" incidents have occurred for us.
The back-and-forth 4th quarter lead changes resemble the 2005 UGA game in that there were plenty of them. Winning on a 50+ yard field goal is always a big deal in any game, but in a rivalry like the Iron Bowl it's bound to cause anguish.
I'm not going to spend too much time on this one. Partially because I don't want to, and partially because I added this one mainly due to not being able to think of another good one and I felt I HAD to include a loss, somewhere.
Now let's get to the good ones.
4) The Tie
1988 Sugar Bowl vs Syracuse
This is the only game where the overwhelming reaction on Twitter would be negative as opposed to excited amazement.
You can actually watch this entire game on YouTube, now. The internet loves when a team goes for the win instead of the tie, especially in bowl games. They're exhibition games for the most part, so why not? I can't count the number of "GO FOR IT!" tweets I see in these situations. It's so much fun.
So can you imagine the Social Media outrage when Pat Dye made the decision to kick the field goal to tie Syracuse in the 1988 Sugar Bowl? 4 seconds left on the clock. Inside the red zone. Why not go for it? The game didn't mean anything. You can watch the video and see the Syracuse coach with his hands in the air wondering just what Pat Dye is doing. Rather than go for the win, Coach Dye chose to kick it and tie. No overtime back then. Game was over. 16-16.
Syracuse fans were so outraged that they sent neckties to Coach Dye. He signed them and sold them as a fund raiser for Auburn's general scholarship fund. I'm sure there are still Syracuse fans outraged at it, today. Twitter would have been beside itself that Coach Dye would settle for the mediocre tie in a meaningless game.
3) 2005 Auburn / UGA
This is the most recent of all of my selections. The 2005 Auburn/UGA game was an intense back-and-forth struggle. Points kept going on the board late as it seemed one team would lock it up. That's why as ecstatic as I was that Brandon Cox nailed Devin Aromashodu over the middle on that 4th down play, I was screaming the familiar refrain of "we left them too much time!" as well.
Twitter would likely have exploded at the unlikelihood of that play. 4th and long and UGA let Brandon CoxBOT* compete that pass!? How does that happen!? That pass is still one of the reasons Cox is one of my favorite Auburn quarterbacks. However, the play alone wouldn't have caused as big of an eruption as the ruling that followed.
A fumble on 4th down can only be advanced if it's recovered by the player who fumbled. So Courtney Taylor's touchdown was pulled off the board. The ball was placed back at the spot of the fumble. Auburn was able to run out the clock before kicking the game winning field goal. The number of "Are you kidding me?!?" posts would be astronomical.
The game didn't mean a whole lot in the national picture. Auburn might have been in the BCS discussion if they hadn't lost to LSU the week before, but this game was purely for bragging rights. Still, the improbability of the way it ended would have created a huge uproar on social media.
*Click that link. It's TheAuburner, so you know there's no way you'll be disappointed.
2) Bo Over The Top
1982 Iron Bowl
Nine years of losing to Alabama. One amazing freshman running back. One play to end all of Auburn's suffering and that the great David Housel put it "gave Auburn hope."
Again, this one may not have had much in the way of national implications, but it was still a very big deal. The Bear was retiring. Auburn's 2nd year head coach had famously said "60 minutes" when asked how long it would take him to beat the Crimson Tide when he was hired prior to the 1981 season. Auburn was one yard away from possibly ending the streak and sending The Bear out on a losing note.
Would it have trended nationally? Absolutely. It was the end of a streak. Alabama's coaches had claimed to Bo that Auburn would never beat Alabama again. The state of Alabama alone went crazy over it, so you can bet every Auburn person would have taken to social media to express their extreme joy, elation, and Alabama-hate over ending the streak. Especially in such dramatic fashion with a freshman player told by Alabama that he would never play as a freshman AT Alabama.
1) Punt, Bama, Punt
1972 Iron Bowl
Can you imagine this one in the age of Twitter? The first block and run-back for a touchdown would have caused an uproar because it got Auburn back in the game. The second one? The second one might have melted it all down.
It's really a shame that all we can do is guess on this one. I think it would be close to on par with the 2013 Iron Bowl result. The initial reaction on the second block would likely have been through the roof by itself, but once people realized the it was once again Bill Newton on the block and David Langner who ran it in?!? Pandemonium would erupt.
"They blocked it again? NO WAY!!"
"Wait, the SAME GUYS?!? WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT?!?"
I can see in my head all of the reactions to 2013 altered to fit that scenario.
It was still ten years until my birth, so I don't know what the reaction was on the national landscape then was, but the odds really have to be astronomical for that to occur. The same two players block and return field goals in the 4th quarter of a huge rivalry game? Unreal. I would almost say the odds of returning a 109 yard field goal for a touchdown aren't as high as that occurring.
Bill Newton and David Langner will forever live in Auburn lore for that game.
Give Me Yours
These are mine. How about yours? Did I miss one? My knowledge of great Auburn games only goes back so far. Honorable mention could go to the Earthquake Game (ugh), Slack to Wasden, the Duval FG against UF, and others just to name a few. I'm sure there are plenty more out there. Sound off in the comments below!