Three weeks and change until Georgia Southern, everybody.
2001 - Auburn 23, Florida 20
“Rex Grossman is going to tear us apart.”
That’s what my dad told twelve-year old me while I sat and did my homework at the dining room table a couple days before this game. Thankfully, the weather did not agree, and the whipping winds forced the Gator quarterback into four interceptions on a kooky night on the Plains.
This game was an odd mixture of the overlap of late nineties Auburn football and a glimpse at the future to come. With young guys on the roster like Karlos Dansby, Jason Campbell, and Cadillac Williams, Auburn seized momentum, led 10-6 at the half, and cobbled together a game-winning drive that left them at the Florida 27. At the time, Damon Duval had been the hero for Auburn, winning two big games with late field goals already that year, but none were more important than the one he booted with just ten seconds to play.
1983 - Auburn 23, Alabama 20
The theme of bad weather continues for today, as Pat Dye’s third Iron Bowl was played under a tornado warning at Legion Field in Birmingham.
The tornado that was sophomore Bo Jackson did just as much damage to Alabama as the actual storm itself. The Tigers entered the game at 9-1, ranked third in the country behind Nebraska and a Texas team that gave Auburn its only loss. Alabama was 19th in the land and took a 14-10 lead at halftime before two Al Del Greco field goals put Auburn back on top 16-14.
Alabama struck back with a long run from fullback Ricky Moore, but failed the two-point conversion, and kicked it back to Auburn. One play later, “in your face!”
Jackson finished with 256 yards and two touchdowns of 69 and 71 yards. Auburn won by three in the end and claimed its first outright SEC Championship since 1957.
1982 - Auburn 23, Alabama 22
From 2002-2007, Auburn beat Alabama six straight times. Auburn had one SEC title and an undefeated season while Alabama was on probation and went just 43-33 overall during that time, losing to Hawaii, Northern Illinois, and Louisiana Monroe during the stretch. I know you all remember how inevitable it seemed that their win in 2008 was, and how cathartic that must have been for Tide fans.
Now imagine that the win streak was nine games, and Auburn had won a couple national championships during the streak. And won seven SEC titles. And averaged better than ten wins a season under what many consider to be the greatest coach of all time.
How cathartic would the win that finally broke that streak be? Just take a look at Pat Dye as he gets ready to shake Bear Bryant’s hand.
23 Years Ago - 1994
On the heels of a fully unexpected perfect debut season from Terry Bowden in 1993, Auburn came into 1994 back on television and ready to show America what they’d missed a year prior. To begin the year, Auburn sat at #11 in the preseason AP Poll (one spot ahead of Alabama), and opened the year with a couple of alright wins over Ole Miss and Louisiana Monroe to begin 2-0 and extend the winning streak to thirteen.
Then came game number three. After beating LSU in Death Valley the year before, the Bayou Bengals came to town ready for atonement, and for three quarters it looked like they’d absolutely get it.
We skip ahead in the action with LSU leading 23-9.
Auburn snagged five turnovers in that fourth quarter -- four picks and a fumble recovery — and barely managed to move the ball on offense but somehow squeaked out a 30-26 victory.
The win somehow buoyed the offensive spirits and the Tigers scored at least 38 points in their next three games in improving to 6-0 before they went down to Gainesville to match wits with a really angry and bevisored Steve Spurrier. The Gators were the runaway top team in the country and hadn’t scored less than 31 points all year.
The offense was up to the task, led by Pat Nix, Stephen Davis, Thomas Bailey, and Frank Sanders. Just enjoy the highlights. And make sure to watch for the band members completely disregarding their responsibility as they scream in hysterics after Sanders’ game-winning score.
Auburn would win 36-33 and run the winning streak to 18 games after knocking off the top-ranked Gators, and they’d eventually hit 20 in a row after beating Arkansas and East Carolina.
Then Auburn tied Georgia. 23-23 at home with Matt Hawkins missing the winning field goal off to the right with just seconds left in the game. And the next week, Auburn would fall at Alabama after “failing to reach” on a fourth-down play late. With modern replay, Auburn may have very well gotten another chance after a second look at the gain, but we’ll never know how things would’ve shaken out. The Tigers finished 1994 9-1-1, but probably went into the offseason with an unpleasant taste in their mouths after the 0-1-1 finish at Amen Corner.
They’d get revenge on both of those opponents the next season.
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