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12 Days Until Kickoff

Fans outside the stadium, honk if you sacked Brodie...

Today’s the first day on our Countdown to Kickoff wherein I have very little information on a game that Auburn won while scoring that number of points. Twelve points is difficult to come by in a game. Four field goals, two touchdowns sans extra points... some combination with a safety... it’s tough!

That said, here you go:

1964 - Auburn 12, Mississippi State 3

As best as I can tell, Auburn beat the Bulldogs for their next-to-last win of the season in a year where they finished 6-4.

1956 - Auburn 12, Houston 0

Auburn beat the Cougars in the shutout, but it spurred Houston on to win out the rest of the way, meanwhile the Tigers won four of their next five including a blowout win over a hapless Alabama team.

Boy, wasn’t that exciting? Let’s move on.

12 Years Ago - 2005

Coming off of the perfect season in 2004, Auburn wasn’t picked to do much in 2005. To be fair, they’d lost a ton of talent. Four first round draft picks were gone, not to mention a good portion of the offensive line and Broyles Award winner Gene Chizik at the defensive coordinator spot. The Tigers started the year ranked 16th, and opened with Georgia Tech at home. It was the return trip from 2003, where Auburn got spanked in Atlanta by a pretty mediocre Yellow Jacket bunch.

I wish I could say Auburn did better in facing off against Reggie Ball for the second time. This was the quarterback that ran out of the back of the end zone on accident one time in his career, but he always had the game of his life against the Tigers.

To be fair, Tech had Calvin Johnson. And Auburn made some really bad mistakes, like Brandon Cox throwing four interceptions in his first start. The miscues weren’t limited to the players, though... the coaching staff gave Kenny Irons just one carry because “he wasn’t up to speed on pass blocking assignments.” Instead they ran Tre Smith, who rightfully has a place in Auburn lore, but wasn’t cut out to be a full-time SEC back.

Auburn lost 23-14 and didn’t score in the second half. It was a sobering ride back home and Auburn’s fifteen game win streak had been snapped. Cool.

The Tigers did get their first win of 2005 at home against Mississippi State the next week, but the 28-0 victory was so lackluster. Auburn ran for only 118 yards and showed little life against a bad Bulldog team. It wasn’t until week three when Irons became the feature back that the offense finally started clicking.

Irons ran eleven times for 147 yards in the win over Ball State to improve Auburn’s record to 2-1, and Brandon Cox looked the part of the efficient quarterback that we’d seen in his limited duty the year before. Auburn’s offense continued to roll in a win over Western Kentucky the next week, and then the Tigers gave Steve Spurrier his worst loss as a head coach at the time when they spanked South Carolina 48-7 to improve to 4-1.

Things were looking up as Auburn headed to Fayetteville in a game that oddly enough wasn’t broadcast on TV and brought everyone back to earlier times and the magic of radio. It was a stressful game because I remember hearing the name McFadden over and over, and each time it seemed like he sliced through the Tiger defense like a wet paper bag.

Still, Arkansas was regressing at that point and Auburn’s run game was too powerful. Kenny Irons rumbled for 182 yards as Auburn won 34-17 on the road and jumped back up to its original starting point in the polls at #16.

Then came Baton Rouge. In each of the recaps of an odd year I feel like the loss at LSU will start with that simple sentence. Leading up to the game, Kenny Irons got right up to an ESPN camera and predicted that he’d go for 200 yards on the night, but it took him a while to get moving...

In a game where you’ve got a tailback that goes for 218 yards, and your offense posts 451 yards with zero turnovers, you feel pretty good about the win. That would be unless your kicker left fifteen points on the field.

John Vaughn, bless him, will always be remembered for that night in Death Valley. He missed five field goals, including the game-winner with a second left and the game-tying kick in overtime. I felt horrible for him, but it was a brutal loss as an Auburn fan. LSU took the win 20-17 in overtime and dropped Auburn to 5-2 overall.

The next week, Auburn beat Ole Miss at home, and I distinctly remember John Vaughn attempting a field goal and seeing a fan a few rows in front of me hold up a sign that said “Laces out, John!” Savage, but... accurate.

After that, Auburn still sat at 6-2 with a shot to win the West, and continued to win at Kentucky despite the best efforts from an upset-minded Wildcat team. Rafael Little went for 246 all-purpose yards but a backup backup tailback named Tristan Davis scooted for 162 yards on just eight carries for Auburn and the Tigers pulled away in a shootout to win 49-27 in Lexington.

It set the Tigers up in a good position for a solid finish, but they’d have tough competition. Don’t look now, but Alabama was good again, and before the Tide came to town, Auburn would have to get by Georgia in Athens.

This turned out to be one of the best Auburn-Georgia matchups in recent history. A back-and-forth affair that showed off Auburn’s balanced offense and timely defense. The Tigers gained over 500 yards on offense that night, but found themselves driving to win with two minutes left and facing off with a fourth-and-long.

Right there you’ve got one of the wackiest plays you’ll ever see, that’s much deeper than it appears on the surface. Aromashodu fumbles it, Taylor recovers in the end zone, and it’s called a touchdown. Well, you can’t fumble forward on fourth down. So the ball goes back to the spot of the fumble and Auburn retains possession since they recovered it. It was actually perfect because it gave the Tigers a chance to burn the clock and give John Vaughn a chip shot field goal for the win. Auburn 31, Georgia 30.

The win jumped Auburn back up to #11 as the Iron Bowl loomed the next week. Alabama had been ranked #3 in the nation despite escaping week after week, until they lost to LSU the day Auburn beat Georgia. The offense had sputtered for the Tide and they’d only scored one offensive touchdown in their previous three SEC games.

It turned out to be the biggest beatdown of a Bama team for Auburn this millennium. Auburn sacked Bama quarterback Brodie Croyle on the first play of the game. And the third play. And nine times after that.

Despite gaining just 257 total yards, Auburn dominated from start to finish, and only a late touchdown run by John Parker Wilson in the final minute made the score somewhat close. Auburn finished the year at 9-2, losing out on the SEC West title thanks to that night in Baton Rouge, and earned a trip back to the Capital One Bowl to face off against Wisconsin. In a game that the team clearly didn’t prepare for, the Badgers took it to Auburn and some back named Brian Calhoun rushed for over 200 yards as the Tigers lost 24-10 in a game that wasn’t nearly that close.

The season ended on a bit of a sour note but with the wins over Georgia and Alabama, you had to be optimistic heading into 2006, especially since the Cox/Irons backfield combo was returning for the Tigers.