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AFT2020: #7 1998 UCF

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Good morning to all you cool cats and kittens from the Satellite of Love where it’s time for another installment of Auburn Football Theater 2020. So far on the countdown we have:

10) 2011 vs South Carolina

9) 2016 vs LSU

8) 2008 vs Tennessee

And today, we have a particularly fun task as we start what the mads have deemed the

section of the countdown. Could it have started last week? Sure, but as much as last week’s game was painful to watch…this one was particular stinky as Auburn’s opponent actually had a solid QB that was leading the nation, and the Auburn defense did what the Auburn defense does, choke the life out of him in extreme fashion. This week, we watch (for many the first time ever) the 1998 Homecoming game between Auburn and the UCF Golden Knights.

THE PREGAME

For most Auburn fans, we will remember 1998 as the year Terry Bowden tucked tail and took off the night before the Louisiana Tech game for more than one reason, but literally left his staff and players holding the bag on the rest of the season.

‘Brother’ Bill Oliver

‘Brother’ Bill Oliver, who was Auburn’s Defensive Coordinator at the start of the season, took over the Head man job and had done a pretty good job, with a dominate win over Louisiana Tech and falling just short against a highly ranked Arkansas team 24-21. Things you need to know about Auburn in 1998, Auburn had an excellent defense, however, the Tigers had ZERO offensive power…like at all. However, the Tigers are led by a baseball start and current hitting coach for the Tiger baseball team.

Offensive firepower was not a problem for UCF in 1998. Mainly because they had this guy at the controls.

That’s right, Mr. GET YOUR ROLL ON himself, Daunte Culpepper.

Daunte led the nation in passing coming in to the game and had routed every team they had played that season, with the exception of Purdue, who was pretty good and led by this guy.

Joe Tiller and Drew Brees

On defense, UCF was pretty stingy as they were led by…

THE CHIZ

Yup, you are correct, that’s good ol’ Gene Chizik on the right calling the plays for the Knights.

UCF entered the game at 7-1 while Auburn walked in at 2-6 and fighting for pride and pride alone.

THE GAME

To start this game off, it is a glorious November day in Auburn. Leading us in our quest for the next 3ish hours are familiar but fresh faces.

And the special teams for the Tigers make sure to start the game off right.

Well, there is a harbinger for how this one will play out. UCF gets it at the 35 and DC shows off that big arm with a couple of big pass plays in a 14 play drive but needs a conversion on 3rd and 5 to keep it going.

So, the Golden Knights take the early 3-0 lead on Auburn.

The Tigers would get the ball on their own 15 and 3 plays later would punt it back to UCF where the Knights would go on the march again but would stall out just past midfield and decide to go for it on 4th down.

Charles sorta stole my thunder, but only Auburn, with an offense reminiscent of the French Army in WW2, would take the pick 15 yards down field instead of just knocking it down and getting it at the 35ish. However, the Tigers would get a big run on the drive.

Yup, Michael Burks! I said that out loud when I saw him pop up on the screen. Rusty Williams was the real running back I remembered from that season but the 17 year old Burks was the ‘star’ of the running game from the midpoint of the season on. Back to the drive and the offensive positivity would not last.

Yeah, the run game was really the only thing Auburn really had and…well…yeah.

A punt followed and UCF would get it at their own 35. The Auburn defense would turn up the heat on the Golden Knight gun slinger after the turnover on the previous series.

UCF was held to its first 3 and out of the game and Auburn got it in great field position at the 45. The drive, however, was short lived.

So, the defense is put in another tight spot at the Auburn 36. UCF would take 7 plays….7 PLAYS, to get to the Auburn 10, where Daunte would make mistake #2 of the day.

Oh if only Bray could have slipped by the wide out and raced down that home sideline. He didn’t though, and Auburn got it at the 4, where they wouldn’t do much and punt in 3 plays. At this point, if you hoped that UCF would hole up and not want to make any more mistakes, you’d be wrong.

So, it’s the Knights from the 24. It would take them 8 plays….8 PLAYS this time, and the Auburn defense would hold the Knights to a Field Goal try.

So that doubles the UCF lead to 6-0. Auburn would take the ensuing drive 6 plays but needed to punt and UCF would run out the half, and wow what a half it was. Let’s just take a look at those stats.

MERCIFUL GOD! Sure, Auburn’s stats are bad, but what on Earth UCF, excluding the Purdue game, the Golden Knights had scored 31 or more points in every game! Now they have just over 100 yards of offense. They do enjoy a 6-0 lead over Auburn though.

To start the second half, Auburn would take the kick out to the 32 yard line and go 7 plays before needing to punt and pin the Knights deep at their own 15 yard line. From there, UCF would go on a 10 play drive before Daunte would make mistake #3.

HOW BOUT SOME ROB PATE LOVE! Big number 31 gets in on the Pick Party and set the Tigers up in a great spot. Auburn would inch a little bit closer for Rob Bironas (RIP) to try a 43 yard Field Goal.

And that’s how ya kick a field goal Mr. Tuttle. While this one is starting to look like LSU from a few weeks ago, Auburn now looks to have some confidence going against that Gene Chizik defense. UCF had other ideas though. The Knights would go from their own 44 after a really nice return and march down to the Auburn 8 yard line.

YES SIR LARRY CASHIER! Pick #4 of the day and the second for Cashier on that end of the field ends yet another UCF drive. Auburn would take it from the 5 and have to punt it away. UCF would see the Auburn 3 and out and would raise them their own 3 and out to give it back to the Tigers at the 30. That’s when an old name popped up on my screen.

DEMONTRAY CARTER LADIES AND GENTELMEN! This was actually a nice drive for Auburn…however.

UCF would stop that drive but the Auburn defense wouldn’t allow the turnover to turn in to points and would force a punt.

So the offense has the ball but its at the 2…yay.

The offense would gain 20 yards to at least keep the field position somewhat normal with time becoming a factor. UCF would get it from their own 37.

That’s the first time UCF has done a thing on the ground to really mention and it couldn’t come at a worse time. With about 3ish minutes left, UCF now has it in Auburn territory and a TD would finish this one off for sure.

Well there ya go! Anyone getting that feeling that Auburn may pull this one off?!

OK…so gonna sit back down.

Auburn would get it to 4th down and need a miracle to keep the drive alive.

Ok then…that’s something to build on…let’s see what Auburn can do on 1st down

HOLY CRAP! HOW….WHAT…..OH MY GOD! Sure the call was completely botched but can you blame them? They are UCF centered and had the game in their hands. Now they need a miracle to salvage the game.

The Knights would get it from their 9 yard line with about 50 seconds left and would need a Hail Mary to win this one.

THE AFTERGLOW

Sadly, what came to follow for both teams would not be very bright for the 98 season. Auburn would show good fight against really good Georgia and Alabama teams but would fall by 2+ scores to wrap up the season at 3-8. Following the uat game, Auburn would hire Tommy Tuberville from Ole Miss, leaving Coach Oliver out in the cold after his best efforts to salvage the season and showing that he could do the head job.

UCF on the other hand would win their final two games to close the season at 9-2. After the Auburn game, they had a verbal agreement to play in the Oahu Bowl in Hawaii but this was the season that Miami beat an undefeated UCLA (wow what a world) team at the end of the season and that shook up the entire bowl breakdown so the Golden Knights were left holding the bag. Were they do have beaten Auburn, who knows if they would have gotten a spot or not.

Well that’s it for this week’s edition of Auburn Football Theater 2020. Join us again next week as I punish myself through a forgotten win in Auburn’s history as the DEEP HURTING continues! As we leave you this week, just remember, Auburn is 3-0 in the regular season against UCF. Guess who is 0-1 All Time vs the Knights.