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Countdown to Kickoff: 7 Days

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One of the biggies.

AP

Hopefully at this time one week from today, you’ll be celebrating an Auburn win and lamenting the fact that Louisville without Lamar Jackson doesn’t stand a chance against Alabama. It’s with the latter portion of that sentence that we begin today’s entry on the Countdown to Kickoff. We’re seven days away from the Tigers in Atlanta against Washington, and we’ve got one of the more impactful touchdowns in Auburn history to guide us through today’s post.

I’m sure that the 2010 season is fresh enough in all of our minds, even now, that we don’t need too much in the way of a reminder. Auburn dramatically tore through the schedule behind Cam Newton and a senior-laden team, winning the SEC West and heading into Tuscaloosa at 11-0.

Meanwhile, Alabama was coming off of its first national championship since 1992, and the Nick Saban train was fully loaded. However, despite one of the most talented teams during the run that the Tide’s been on, they lost twice before the Iron Bowl — a head-scratcher at South Carolina, and a tough, close loss in Baton Rouge — but both of those losses were on the road. Now they were getting Auburn at home.

With the Cam Newton scandal in full froth, the Bryant-Denny employees were not kind, playing “Take the Money and Run” and “Son of a Preacher Man” over the PA during pregame warmups.

For about 25 minutes, it seemed like they’d gotten in our heads.

Alabama built a 24-0 lead before Auburn finally broke through on a Newton touchdown to Emory Blake before the half, and in the first minute of the third quarter, a 70-yard scoring strike to Terrell Zachery cut the lead to 24-14. Cam Newton led another touchdown drive late in the quarter to pull Auburn within 24-21, and the Crimson faithful were sitting on their hands.

During the comeback, CBS’ cameras showed a fantastic shot of the sun finally breaking through the rainy and gloomy afternoon, and the orange rays shone solely on the Auburn fans relegated to the upper deck. It was fate.

Then disaster struck, and a muffed punt gave Alabama possession in Auburn territory. Thankfully the damage was limited to a field goal, and the Tide led 27-21 as the fourth quarter began.

Auburn into the teeth of the students, converting a major fourth down on a pass to Darvin Adams, then two runs by Cam and Michael Dyer netted 25 yards. Two plays later, Auburn faced third-and-four at the Tide seven.

Cue the drama.

That was Philip Lutzenkirchen’s only catch of the day, but it was the biggest one of the game. It gave Auburn the lead for the first time that day, and it birthed the Lutzie dance. It’s weird to look back and realize that this play happened with nearly twelve minutes left in the game. There was plenty of time for dramatics after this moment, but the T’Sharvan Bell sack of Greg McElroy and a Cam Newton dive over the pile on fourth down milked the clock. Alabama’s final ditch effort ended up with four incomplete passes from A.J. McCarron, and Auburn won 28-27.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been more physically exhausted after a football game. With us already in for the SEC Championship, the only thing left for Alabama was to play spoiler in the national race. I don’t think we’d ever been allowed to forget it if we won the SEC, but an Iron Bowl loss was the blemish that kept us out of the BCS Championship. It very nearly happened, and we escaped with what might end up being the most impressive and difficult win in Auburn history.

If you want to relive the tension, watch this video, which should begin at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It encompasses current head coach Gus Malzahn asking (telling) Gene Chizik to go for it on that crucial fourth down, all the way to putting the Bama defense on skates, and we even get a shot of a mad Kirby Smart complaining that we outsmarted him on the Lutzie touchdown.

Seven hells, that’s good. One week until kickoff, War Eagle.