For all the big matchups we’ve had over the past decade or so, there may be no opponent that have been as quietly pivotal as Texas A&M has been. It was the springboard to a great 2013 season, and the saving grace down the stretch in 2015. We hope that this year’s edition of the game will provide a similar propulsion into Amen Corner.
However, those two wins aside, it’s been an even-year curse that’s hurt Auburn for better or worse — usually worse. Let’s suck out the poison, let it wash over you. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
2012 - Texas A&M 63, Auburn 21
To be quite honest, I’ll confess to never actually having seen those highlights before. However, I had to watch them if I wanted to do exactly what this article’s imploring you all to do. 2012 is the only season during which I’ve willingly given up on Auburn football. It was only fair -- the team and coaches were in the tank, and especially at that point in time.
The loss to Johnny Manziel tied the worst margin of defeat in Jordan-Hare history (tied with the 42-0 loss to Tennessee in 1980), and served as the most yards ever given up by an Auburn team. That was a dark time, with two shutout losses yet to come to finish up the season, but this was the first time that I think we all knew that Gene Chizik was absolutely gone. There was no hope after the six-touchdown drubbing. That video even shows us missing a field goal fergodsakes, as if that’s a highlight. It’s just rubbing our noses in it.
2014 - Texas A&M 41, Auburn 38
This game’s the one that really hurt, not because we were put out of our misery, but because we got Littlefinger-ed and duped the entire way around.
A&M lollygagged around and beat Louisiana-Monroe 21-16 the week before, with Kyle Allen barely able to complete a pass. Then they came into Jordan-Hare Stadium and Allen threw for four touchdowns, Cameron Artis-Payne fumbled on our first play, and we had a field goal blocked and run back for a touchdown at the end of the half.
Oh, and there were two fumbles on potential game-winning drives. The first one came at the goal line, where replay clearly showed Artis-Payne recovering the ball and being down on the ground, but in the ensuing scrum, and A&M player came out with the ball and then later alluded to the fact that they got away with one.
No matter, our defense had stepped up, and we got the stop necessary, but then the butt fumble happened. Reese Dismukes snapped the ball before Nick Marshall was ready, and A&M jumped on it. That fumble was real, and they got it, and it ended our chances. Not just for the win, but for the rest of the damn season as well.
We were #3 during this game, fully in for the playoff if we just took care of business. We didn’t. We crapped around and lost, and the team got drilled by Georgia the next week because of it. The good effort against Alabama aside, it ended the year.
Many of us have surmised that Gus Malzahn hasn’t been the same since that loss. He hasn’t. Before that, we stood up to good teams and teams that were likely more talented than us, but since then we haven’t beaten anyone in an even game. We beat who we’re supposed to, and lose to who we’re supposed to, and we have a couple of weird clunkers each year, starting here.
2016 - Texas A&M 29, Auburn 16
Remember this idiot game plan? Let’s not block Myles Garrett, and let him come free. Surely we can scheme around that berserker running unblocked in the backfield. Surely Sean White’s nimble enough to escape his evil Sauron-like gaze.
Yeah, it didn’t work. Garrett had two sacks and our offense never really got going. It’s now just another blip in the nightmare stat that we’ve scored first in pretty much every loss the past couple of seasons.
We could’ve won this game, pretty easily, I might add. The defense wasn’t horrible, holding A&M to five field goals. We gave up just one chunk play -- the 89-yard Tray Williams touchdown late — but the offense couldn’t do anything.
Do you remember JF3 coming in at quarterback when it was evident that nothing else was working? Remember him running out of bounds on 4th down because he had no idea what down it was? Yeah, that was a Gus derp-fest at its best.
There was a really telling shot of Jay Jacobs on the sideline late in that game, glancing left and right as fans streamed out of the stands, while the announcers pondered Gus’ future. Thankfully, we beat LSU the next week and ran off six straight wins.
People are talking about how this game might have a similar undertone. Kevin Sumlin’s not exactly in a great place right now. Word is if he doesn’t win this weekend, he won’t see the light of 2018. Gus can’t afford to go less than 8-4, which would mean a must-win in College Station. If Auburn goes 7-5, we’ll be competing with around half the SEC to replace a head coach. There really aren’t that many to go around. It’s in everyone’s best interest for Gus to win this game, and prove those people that are still talking about Auburn as a playoff team right.
In a couple days, we’ll enjoy the good times. Get the bad feelings out now. It is a Monday after all. War Eagle.