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Countdown to Kickoff: 66 Days

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One bright moment in an otherwise frustrating game leads today’s entry into the countdown.

Zach Bland - Auburn Athletics

We continue the Countdown to Kickoff with today’s entry from the 2014 season — 66 days to Auburn vs Washington, and a 66-yard Ricardo Louis touchdown in the Outback Bowl against Wisconsin.

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2014 felt had two distinctly different seasons wrapped up into one. We reeled off some really dominating wins over SEC competition to begin the season, including a 41-7 demolition of LSU under the lights at Jordan-Hare. The only close call was the Thursday night road game at Kansas State, where anything can happen, and it almost did with the Wildcats nearly springing the upset.

After the LSU win, Auburn headed into Starkville and promptly turned the ball over five times in falling behind 21-0 to Mississippi State in the first quarter. The Tigers got within one score late in the third quarter, but couldn’t close the gap, and the win propelled the Bulldogs to #1 in the polls (weird year).

Auburn bounced back, taking down South Carolina at home with Steve Spurrier going for broke in all aspects, and then won a hard-fought victory at 7th-ranked Ole Miss to move right back up to #3 in the country. Then came the Texas A&M game.

Once again, the Tigers turned the ball over, fell behind big early, mounted a comeback, and coughed it up late, fumbling twice in the final two drives. The first turnover came on the goal line, heading in for the go-ahead score, and the next came further out as Reese Dismukes snapped the ball before Nick Marshall was ready. It resulted in a 41-38 loss at home, a drop in the polls, and a lackluster effort the next week against Georgia.

Auburn went into Tuscaloosa at 8-3, forgot how to red zone (Daniel Carlson kicked five field goals of 33 yards or less), and lost to the Tide despite posting 630 yards of offense. What we got was a matchup with a familiar bowl opponent in the Wisconsin Badgers on New Year’s Day. It would be the third time since 2000 that the Tigers and Badgers would meet in the postseason.

If the end of the Ellis Johnson era as defensive coordinator wasn’t already in sight after really poor showings against Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama, it was on full display against the rushing combo of Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement. Early on, however, Auburn took the lead thanks to a Trovon Reed interception on a 3rd and 25 play that turned into that beautiful Nick Marshall deep ball.

That was Ricardo’s only catch of the day, but it gave Auburn a 14-7 lead in the second quarter. Unfortunately, the Badger rushing attack went bananas, combining for 400 yards on the ground (251 and 3 touchdowns from Gordon), and they ultimately won in overtime, 34-31.

We promise to get back to happier times on the countdown soon! Until then, War Eagle!