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Countdown to Kickoff: 13 Days

That time Sammie Coates tossed an Aggie defender. - Julie Bennett/

October 19th, 2013 is a day I will never forget. Sure, it’s probably most known to Auburn fans as that time Auburn upset Johnny Manziel at Kyle Field signaling to the SEC and the CFB world that the Tigers were indeed back. But that was actually just a blip on the radar that day for me. Hours before that memorable contest I made one of the best decisions of my life. I proposed to my wife.

That morning, I went to breakfast with her father at Chappy’s Deli. It’s like eating with royalty when you go to Chappy’s with my father-in-law. He’s a regular so he knows pretty much everybody by name and their life stories as well. We got a table immediately and the waitress knew what he wanted without even asking. Pretty sure I had a breakfast sandwhich and some coffee. I don’t remember eating much of it. We spent an hour talking about work, life, sports and anything else that came to mind. But we both knew why were there and he thankfully gave me his blessing to marry his daughter.

I didn’t waste any time.

After breakfast, I raced to her apartment and told her we should go on a walk. I later learned that she had searched my bag to see if I had brought a ring and when she hadn’t found it, had assumed nothing big was going down that day. So she honestly had no idea what was about to happen and spent a longer time than I could handle picking out a sweater while I feverishly rehearsed my lines in my head over and over again.

Finally, we departed and made our way to campus. On our very first date, we had spent the last hours wandering around campus just talking about anything to keep the night from ending. This time there would be no meandering, I had a mission to complete.

I beelined it to the Quad where our first date had ended two years ago. It wasn’t the prettiest of days and there was some event going on in one of the buildings so it wasn’t necessarily as private or romantic as I had hoped. But it didn’t matter, I was getting this done. I hit one knee, stumbled through my lines and thankfully she very happily and excitedly answered “YES!”.

Best decision of my life.

Auburn has given me many things: an awesome career, incredible friends and wonderful memories. But there’s zero question that it’s greatest gift is my wonderful wife. It’s funny how many of these amazing moments we’ve discussed in this countdown also tie into a huge event in my personal life. This definitely ranks near the top. #AuburnFamily indeed.

Oh quick note, I am 2-0 on big life events and Auburn football games. Auburn beat A&M in 2013 when I proposed to my wife and Auburn beat Mississippi State the day my daughter was born. My second daughter is due right before the Iron Bowl this year. No pressure kid...

As for the game itself, it was a wild one. I was aware that Mike Evans was a beast before the game but that first half REALLY drilled home what an overwhelming force he could be. He had THREE touchdowns that half, including an absolutely insane 42 yard catch with just 12 seconds to go in the half. Thankfully, the Tigers had an equally potent offense that year and were able to stand blow for blow with Manziel.

One of the most memorable plays from that game came on Auburn’s 2nd drive of the day. Ryan Smith had intercepted a dropped pass to give the Tigers the ball back and Ricardo Louis took a reverse 32 yards on the first play. Then came a quick pass to Sammie Coates who rudely introduced himself to the A&M secondary.

Got a feeling that one’s gonna stay on the Auburn highlight reels for quite awhile. As much as I love Rod, I personally prefer the wrestling commentary version of this play.

Coates’s thirteen yard reception would move the chains but eventually the offense stalled and the Tigers kicked a field goal. One of the biggest turning points in the game though was when Manziel was knocked out for two drives in the 2nd half. Those two drives resulted in a field goal and a punt for the Aggies. You couldn’t open a door like that for this 2013 Auburn squad.

The Auburn offense would score on all three of their final possessions, including a dominant 13 play, 75 yard drive that ate up a bunch of clock and put the Tigers up for good. But Manziel returned to the game in the 4th quarter and it appeared like maybe Tre Mason had scored a tad too soon. The Aggies marched down the field and were in clear striking range of the endzone. Considering what Mike Evans had done much of the day, the 21 yard line sure didn’t seem that far away from the endzone. But while this 2013 defense was far from elite, they did have one of the best pure pass rushers I’ve ever seen don an Auburn jersey. Dee Ford made two huge plays in the final 30 seconds of the game slamming the door shut on the Aggies.

Stay healthy this year Dee. We need you, Carl Lawson and Jeff Holland to do work on Sundays in 2018.

13 days till kickoff! War Eagle!