Four weeks from today we’ll all be donning our lucky Orange and Blue, setting up tailgates for a wonderful nighttime kickoff against Georgia Southern, and hopefully cheering hard when we see a Florida State lead over Alabama flashed on the ribbon boards around Jordan-Hare Stadium. Four weeks, 28 days, so let’s review some of the best games featuring the number 28 in Auburn history. It’s Bama-centric today.
2010 - Auburn 28, Alabama 27
I don’t know if anyone remembers this game, it did kind of fly under the radar, and there wasn’t much on the line when Auburn ventured into Tuscaloosa undefeated, ranked 2nd in the country, with the SEC West already locked up, a possible Heisman for Cam Newton, and a national championship in their sights as well.
Alabama started the game, uh... hot. Mark Ingram capped the Tide’s first drive with an easy score, then Greg McElroy tossed two touchdowns. Add a Jeremy Shelley field goal midway through the second quarter and Auburn had nothing but a 24-0 hole to try and clamber out of.
Antoine Carter poked the ball from Ingram’s hands as he was heading toward paydirt, coaxing the ball lazily down along the sideline beore Demond Washington recovered it in the end zone for a touchback. Then Cam Newton finally perked up, executing the hard-step perfectly and finding an open Emory Blake behind the Bama secondary to get Auburn on the board, then Nick Fairley ended another Tide scoring threat on a strip-sack of McElroy.
After halftime, Newton hit Terrell Zachery for a 70-yard score less than a minute into the third quarter, then Cam barreled into the end zone to pull Auburn within 24-21. At one point during the comeback, CBS showed the visiting Auburn section at Bryant-Denny Stadium bathed in an orange sunset while the Tide faithful sat nervously in the wet rainy weather. It was symbolic of the fortunes switching completely on that day.
Finally, Alabama recalibrated, notching a field goal after a fumbled punt to extend the lead back to six, but as the fourth quarter began, Auburn had the ball facing a fourth and short just near midfield. The TV cameras flashed on the Tiger coaching staff, and caught Gus Malzahn asking Gene Chizik if he wanted to go for it. Auburn called timeout and drew up a fake pooch kick that resulted in a short out-route completion to Darvin Adams for the crucial first down.
Just a few plays later, Auburn sat inside the Tide ten with a third down looming. Newton took the shotgun snap, rolled a few yards to the right, and the defense bit. Philip Lutzenkirchen filtered left and found himself wide open for the incoming touchdown, which he cradled before creating the Lutzie dance move and tying the ballgame. Wes Byrum’s extra point put Auburn on top for the first time all day at 28-27, and then it was the defense’s turn to shut things down.
Alabama moved into Auburn territory after that, but T’Sharvan Bell slung McElroy to the ground, concussing the Alabama quarterback and sending him out of the game, and then Auburn converted one first down and left Bama just seconds to try and reach field goal range to win. AJ McCarron couldn’t find room to move the ball, and Auburn escaped with the most unbelievable comeback you’ll ever see.
2005 - Auburn 28, Alabama 18
A year after Auburn won the SEC Championship and completed a 13-0 season, the Tigers had the best offense in the conference, and a huge Iron Bowl as one-loss Alabama visited the Plains for an afternoon matchup the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
From the very first play, this game spawned bumper stickers around the state, as Auburn sacked quarterback Brodie Croyle 11 times, including two of the first three plays. Overall, Alabama’s first three drives netted them negative yardage, while Auburn built a 21-0 advantage in the first quarter.
There’s not much more to say here, so let’s just give you the highlights.
2003 - Auburn 28, Alabama 23
Personal story: I watched this game with my parents, aunt, uncle, and one cousin. After the opening kickoff, my aunt decided to go and fix a drink because (in her words) “Nothing even happens on the first play of the game. They’ll probably just pile it up the middle.”
Auburn won the game 28-23, but this was by far the highlight of the game. For good reason.
28 Years Ago - 1989
Auburn entered 1989 off of two straight SEC titles and two straight Sugar Bowl berths as well, but the Tigers would have a much tougher schedule to handle if they wanted to recreate those accomplishments for a third year in a row.
In the first six games Pat Dye’s team would play two opponents that finished in the top five (Tennessee and Florida State), and fell to both on the road by a touchdown. Sitting at 4-2, Auburn then ripped off four wins in a row (including this gem over the Gators) to set up a monumental showdown with Alabama in Auburn.
It seems crazy now for anyone under 30, but the Iron Bowl was always played in Birmingham, which was hardly neutral territory, even though it was deemed a 50-50 ticket split. Pat Dye lobbied for the game to be held in Auburn, and in 1989, found success with moving the contest to the Plains in Auburn’s year as the home team.
We talked about the game a couple days ago in our countdown, but it really was a spectacle, and extremely important for Auburn football in the grand scheme.
Auburn won the game 30-20, dinging the previously-undefeated Tide’s national championship hopes. The Tigers would go on to beat Ohio State in the Hall of Fame Bowl and finish the season at 10-2 overall.
Up Next: 27 Days Until Kickoff