The Countdown to Kickoff goes from one SEC Championship season (2010) yesterday, to another one today (2004). It was a revenge game in Atlanta for the Tigers as they took on Tennessee in the SEC Championship in a rematch of the 1997 affair.
2004 was freaking awesome. As crazy and tense as 2010 was, 2004 was calm destruction of everyone. Looking back, the nerve-wracking normal that’s become Auburn football hadn’t quite been established yet. Auburn had just a few close calls, and only a few sweaty moments overall as Tommy Tuberville’s sixth team steam-rolled through the rest of the SEC.
The LSU game was tough, with Auburn memorably getting the touchdown pass from Jason Campbell to Courtney Taylor to finish off the Bayou Bengals, but that was the close call that year. Two weeks later, the Tigers flattened Tennessee in Knoxville, then went on a tear that included a demolition of Georgia. The only knee-knockers, if you could even call them that, came against Ole Miss (where Auburn led 7-0 at halftime but won 35-14), and the Iron Bowl (where Auburn built a 21-6 lead late and allowed a garbage touchdown for a 21-13 win).
Auburn cruised into the SEC Championship ranked third at 11-0 and needed a big win to help make their case for the BCS Championship Game against either USC or Oklahoma. On the other sideline — Tennessee, back for another whipping after the embarrassment on Rocky Top earlier that season.
Campbell and company came out on fire.
It took just 1:36 for Auburn to score the first touchdown of the game, then the Tigers built a 14-0 lead less than midway through the first quarter on Cadillac Williams’ short touchdown scamper. Tennessee answered to cut the lead in half, but Campbell tossed a touchdown to Courtney Taylor to give Auburn a 21-7 edge at halftime.
The Vols didn’t flinch, and cranked out two quick third quarter scores to tie the ballgame at 21, and it was now Auburn’s turn to sweat. Jason Campbell didn’t flinch, and he calmly drove his guys down the field to hit the big momentum-changer that the Tigers would need.
The 53-yard touchdown to Devin Aromashodu put Auburn on top 28-21, and they’d never give up ground again. A John Vaughn field goal made it 31-21, and though Tennessee pulled back within a field goal, another long touchdown from Jason Campbell closed the door for a 38-28 win and Auburn’s first SEC title in fifteen years.
In that game, Campbell set a record for most total offense in the SEC Championship Game with 374 yards passing and 57 yards rushing. Auburn also set a record for most yards in that game with 559, but that was broken by Cam Newton and the Tigers in 2010 with 589, before that was broken again in 2013 by Nick Marshall and Tre Mason with 677 total yards of offense. Campbell’s 374 yards is still the second-most passing yards in the history of the game behind Danny Weurffel’s 401 in 1996.