Tomorrow marks three weeks exactly until kickoff against Georgia Southern, and today we’ll look at some very Bama-centric wins, and one of the biggest victories in Auburn history in addition to a stroll down memory lane to 1995.
2011 - Auburn 22, Oregon 19
This was the culmination of a fantastic season that saw Auburn go 14-0, snag a third Heisman Trophy, prove the doubters wrong, engineer the greatest comeback in school history, and provide heart-stopper after heart-stopper every single week.
That list of heart-stoppers included the BCS National Championship against Oregon. Both teams entered the game undefeated, but Auburn had played the much tougher schedule and had won the SEC en route to earning the top ranking in the country. Oregon boasted one of the nation’s best offenses led by Heisman finalist LaMichael James, and had mostly blown through the Pac 12.
The game itself wasn’t the most cleanly-played affair. Perhaps nerves played a part, but the two prolific offenses were held scoreless through the first quarter before combining for 27 points in the second quarter. Oregon hit the scoreboard first on a short field goal, then Kodi Burns took a pass from Cam Newton into the end zone for the first touchdown of the night. The Tigers tacked on a safety thanks to Mike Blanc and added their second touchdown on a pass from Newton to Emory Blake just before halftime to lead 16-11 at the break.
Wes Byrum provided the only points of the third quarter to give Auburn an eight-point lead, but Oregon struck late with a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie things up at 19-19. That’s when Auburn went to work, notching a quick first down before a play that Duck fans will quack angrily about forever.
Dyer’s run put the Tigers into field goal range, but Auburn moved down to the goal line, making the ensuing Byrum field goal all but moot.
I watched this game at Quixote’s downtown in Auburn, ran screaming down to Toomer’s Corner afterward, and got decked by an industrial-sized roll of toilet paper that someone managed to get over one of the trees. It was worth it.
1993 - Auburn 22, Alabama 14
We featured this game a bit in the countdown a couple days ago when we looked back to 1993, but all the same it’s one of the most important games in Auburn history, so it’ll get it’s due coverage.
You know the drill, Auburn came into the game 10-0 in Terry Bowden’s first year, and immediately fell behind 14-5 before driving down into Alabama territory in the third quarter. On a crucial third down play, Stan White got sacked and injured his knee, forcing Patrick Nix to come in cold on a 4th and 15 situation. Nix hit Frank Sanders for a touchdown to pull Auburn within two, just before the Tigers took the lead on a Scott Etheridge field goal.
The clinching score then came in a giant burst from the Tigers’ starting tailback.
22 Years Ago - 1995
After a 20-1-1 start to his career on the Plains, Terry Bowden brought in a powerful offensive team to the 1995 season. The Tigers were ranked 6th to start out and were one of seven teams receiving a first-place vote.
Auburn breezed through its opening two games against Ole Miss and UT-Chattanooga, averaging 61 points per contest. Then came Baton Rouge. It’s a phrase that can be uttered for nearly every odd year going back nearly three decades. Auburn just always seems to encounter something funky down on the bourbon-soaked grass at Tiger Stadium.
1995 was the Phantom Whistle Game.
With just seconds left in the first quarter, Auburn was backed way up near its own goal line, and after believing he heard a whistle blow, Patrick Nix mysteriously stopped after the snap, allowing himself to be sacked in the end zone for a safety. Auburn’s offense couldn’t do much anyway, so the whistle wasn’t the outright cause of the 12-6 loss, but it sure didn’t help.
The defeat dropped Auburn to 14th in the country, but they’d climb back into the top ten after easy wins over Kentucky and Mississippi State to set up a showdown on the Plains with #3 Florida. Auburn had upset the Gators two years in a row in dramatic fashion, and it seemed like they might be able to do it again after opening up a 10-0 lead just three minutes in, but Danny Wuerffel provided too much offense for Florida and they got the Terry Bowden monkey of their back in a 49-38 win.
Still, Auburn got back on track by beating Western Michigan the next week before heading to Little Rock to take on Arkansas.
The Hogs led 27-0 at halftime. But Auburn would make a comeback.
Too bad it came up just short. Matt Hawkins had his potential winning field goal tipped after Auburn pulled within two at 30-28, and all of a sudden the Tigers’ record was a paltry 5-3 at the end of October.
The ship would right itself, however, as November crept along. An easy victory over Louisiana Monroe gave confidence as Auburn beat Georgia in Athens the next week in a game that provided the backdrop for this monstrosity.
Yep, that’s Fred Beasley from the 1995 win at Georgia running to the Golden Flake. Timeless production.
Auburn beat the Dawgs 37-31, and held a two-game win streak as Alabama came in for just their third ever game in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Last week we posted the final seconds of that game on our daily countdown, but this was one of the first Auburn games I remember watching and paying close attention to. One big reason was the ESPN intro to the broadcast, featuring Ron Franklin. Check it out.
“Auburn-Alabama... it’s more than just a Saturday game.”
And it was. The 60th Iron Bowl was a good one, with Auburn controlling much of the action until falling behind late, but Fred Beasley’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter provided the difference in a 31-27 Auburn win. At that point, 3-0 against the Tide at home.
An 8-3 regular season wasn’t terrible, but after starting out ranked so high, it was a bit of a disappointment. Auburn fell into that odd area where they’d get to play in a bowl game, but they may draw a very strong team. And they did.
Auburn played Penn State in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day, and got absolutely walloped in the rain down in Florida. The Nittany Lions beat Auburn 43-14, and I, in my brand-new Auburn uniform that I’d received for Christmas, cried on the front steps of my house. For good reason, my dad scolded me, saying that crying over losing a football game was unacceptable. I didn’t shed a tear over Auburn football until years later, but for very different reasons.
Coming Next: 21 Days Until Kickoff