Auburn wasn’t really that great in 2001. The Tigers finished the year 7-5 with four of those losses coming in the final 5 games of the season. Even in victory this Tiger team wasn’t necessarily dazzling, winning only one game by more than 7 points (Ball State) including needing overtime to knock off Louisiana Tech. But you can never could count a Tommy Tuberville team out.
Florida entered undefeated and ranked #1 in the country. This would end up being Steve Spurrier’s final campaign as the Gators head coach before making the leap to the NFL. They were lead by eventual Heisman trophy runner up Rex Grossman and like most Spurrier Gator teams, could score points in a hurry. But this team was also supported by an outstanding defense lead by a fearsome pass rusher in Alex Brown. Unsurprisingly, Auburn was a 21 point underdog and hopes weren’t high the Tigers could pull the upset.
As Jim Fyffe so eloquently stated before the game, “how in the world can Auburn compete with this team? We’re about to find out if the Tigers can.” Turns out they could...
Florida scored the first points of the game on a field goal but an outstanding kick return by Tim Carter on the ensuing kickoff lead to a 45 yard Damon Duval field goal and a tie game. Early in the 2nd quarter, Daniel Cobb would give the Tigers their first lead of the game on a goal line QB sneak on 4th down, pushing AU ahead 10-3.
Auburn carried a 10-6 lead into half but it wouldn’t last long. Midway through the 3rd quarter Grossman connected with Reche Caldwell for a 20 yard touchdown putting the Gators back on top. But considering this was Auburn vs Florida in Jordan-Hare Stadium some punt shenanigans had to ensue. First, there was the bizarre 3rd & 25 punt attempt by the Gators that went horribly wrong. The UF punter bobbled the snap then tried to lateral it to keep the play alive resulting in chaos and more lost yardage. Then late in the 3rd quarter, Florida’s long snapper sent a ground ball back to the punter that he couldn’t handle and the Tigers recovered at the 4 yard line. On the first play of the 4th quarter, Auburn punched it in from 2 yards out to regain the lead 17-13.
Auburn tacked on another field goal on their next drive to extend the lead to 7. But this Gator offense would not go away quietly. On the very first play of the next drive, Grossman hit his favorite target Jabar Gaffney for an 80 yard touchdown and all of a sudden the game was tied at 20 with a ton of time left on the clock.
However, both teams’ defenses would rise up continuously throughout the 4th quarter to keep the opponent off the scoreboard. The two biggest defensive plays both came on the final drives for each offense. First, it was the Gators. It looked like the Tigers was marching towards the go ahead score until Daniel Cobb had the ball punched out from behind and the Gators recovered it in the endzone for the touchback. But Auburn would return the favor. Just past midfield, Grossman made the poor decision to chuck it deep into coverage and Karlos Dansby came down with the interception, setting up Auburn’s game winning scoring drive.
Cobb would then methodically march Auburn’s offense down the field, eating up a ton of clock along the way. With only 17 seconds left on the clock, Tommy Tuberville sent Damon Duval out to win the game from 44 yards...
They could not keep em off the field that night either!
If you wanna relive that wonderful October night, check out this highlight video featuring the legendary Jim Fyffe.
44 days till kickoff! War Eagle!