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Countdown to Kickoff: 59 Days/Freedom Edition

Ronney. Daniels.

I know this isn’t Ronney Daniels, but Jarrett Stidham’s shorts provide the perfect backdrop for any 4th of July celebration.

The Countdown to Kickoff continues in true patriotic fashion, since what could be more American than breaking free of the chains of road woes in the SEC. We celebrate the 4th of July with 59 days left to kickoff, and what better way to celebrate than with one of the most dominating performances in Auburn history?

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We touched on Tommy Tuberville’s first season on the Plains a few days ago, as Auburn was looking for an identity after the tumultuous 1998 season. The defense was very good, but the offense was a work in progress entering the season. Finally, the Tigers figured out exactly what worked best — abandon the run and chuck it up to one, Mr. Ronney Daniels.

Daniels opened the season with two touchdown catches in the tight win over Appalachian State, followed that up with two more scores in the blowout win over LSU in Baton Rouge two weeks later, and had other big outings against Mississippi State, Florida, and UCF.

Unfortunately, he was most of the potency on that squad, as Auburn lost five straight games after starting the year 3-0. They finally got off the slide against UCF, and headed into Athens for a Saturday night SEC road tilt.

Meanwhile, Georgia came into the game at 6-2, with their only losses coming to Tennessee and Florida (as they usually did in the 1990s), but they had a bye week to get ready for the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.

How did it go?

Just watch the tape.

Daniels’ stat line for the night — 9 grabs, 249 yards, 2 touchdowns. He had catches of 57, 59, and 78 yards, with the latter two going for touchdowns. You can see that he absolutely toyed with the Georgia secondary on the 59-yard touchdown that puts this entry on the countdown, essentially doing that thing you did with your younger siblings when they tried to punch you — holding your arm out on their head so that they can’t reach you.

The first half is one of the most dominant halves of football ever played by an Auburn team, but Daniels wasn’t the only one going ballistic. Ben Leard set an Auburn record with 416 passing yards, and that would stand for fifteen years until Nick Marshall eclipsed it in the 2014 Iron Bowl.

Go forth and prosper today. Drink some beers, eat some hotdogs, shoot off explosives, all that jazz. Happy 4th and War Eagle.