Today marks 31 days — a full month — until Auburn takes the field against Georgia Southern. Let’s take this opportunity to remember some of the moments that involve the number 31 in Auburn football history.
Remember these games?
2005 - Auburn 31, Georgia 30
Otherwise known as “That Other Time Auburn Beat Georgia on a Wild Fourth-Down Pass”, this one was one of the best games of the 2005 season. Auburn and Georgia went back and forth all night. Kenny Irons tore up the Dawgs for 179 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers racked up more than 500 yards on offense overall. The most important yards, however, came on this 4th down play. Initially ruled a touchdown, the officials conferred and said that on 4th down, the ball cannot be advanced on a fumble. Since Devin Aromashodu lost it around the 2-yard line, the ball was spotted there and Auburn ran the clock down before kicking the game-winning field goal with only seconds left. Two things stand out about that ruling. If Auburn had scored the touchdown, Georgia would’ve had a good chance to roll downfield and win the game as DJ Shockley and Leonard Pope had torn up the Tigers all night. On the other side, John Vaughn got a bit of redemption with an easy field goal just a couple weeks after missing five kicks in the close loss to LSU.
Speaking of the Bayou Bengals...
1997 - Auburn 31, LSU 28
This was a nice revenge game for the previous two years’ worth of frustration against LSU. in 1995, Auburn had gotten off to a blistering start, averaging 61 points per game until going to Baton Rouge for the infamous “Phantom Whistle” game — a 12-10 loss on the Bayou. The next season Auburn had fallen at home 19-15 with a long touchdown catch by Robert Baker that would’ve made the difference called back. In this game, Auburn marched down the field on their first drive, and needed to do the same on their last drive to score the winning touchdown with just 30 seconds left. Meanwhile, Cecil Collins plowed through Auburn’s defense for 232 yards on just 27 carries, but it wasn’t enough as Auburn left too little time for LSU to mount a comeback.
1995 - Auburn 31, Alabama 27
Honestly, this was one of the first football games that I remember watching and being invested in. In ESPN’s opening shots of the game, Auburn stormed out onto the field as Alabama moseyed, and my dad told me “the team that runs onto the field will win the game”. Now, that’s obviously not true, and I don’t know what you’d say if both teams ran onto the field (the team that is running faster? Dunno). Either way, Auburn won and Alabama lost, and for a week at least, that axiom rang true in my mind.
Montgomery’s own Fred Beasley scampered into the North end zone to give Auburn the final advantage, but the Tigers had to hold off a furious rally by Alabama in the end to preserve the win. And if you’ve ever been to a restaurant or bar in Tuscaloosa, you’ll know that the outcome of this game is still in doubt. They’d like you to believe that Curtis Brown hauled in that pass in the back of the end zone, but still photos sure can be misleading when video evidence says otherwise.
This win also gave us one of my favorite Jim Fyffe calls.
“Yes, Yes, YES. YES, AUBURN, YES!” Doesn’t get much better than that.
31 Years Ago - 1986
Pat Dye’s sixth year at Auburn would prove to be a bit of a surprising one. Auburn lost the Heisman Trophy winner in Bo Jackson, and were licking their wounds a bit after 1984 and 1985. The Tigers started ‘84 tops in the polls and finished 9-4, while 1985 saw them begin 2nd in the polls and limp to an 8-4 finish with a blowout loss to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.
To begin 1986, Auburn was 14th in the AP Poll, and reeled off seven straight dominating wins before falling at Florida 18-17. The only other loss on the schedule was a 20-16 defeat at home to Georgia (the Sprinkler Game), and the regular season concluded with Lawyer Tillman’s reverse to victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Tailback Brent Fullwood stepped in beautifully for Bo, averaging 8.3 yards per carry and finishing 6th in the Heisman voting. After beating USC in the Citrus Bowl, Auburn finished in the Top Ten at #6 and set the stage for the next three years and three consecutive SEC Championships.
Tomorrow: 30 Days Until Kickoff