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AFT 2020: 1996 - Army

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Here we are. Half way home. Still ok on bourbon, but again…there are still 5 games to get through. When I thought of this series, I wanted to have 9 regular season games and a bowl game. I feel like some of those really get lost when talking about stinker games and there were a few that could be right here. The 07 Cotton Bowl…Auburn does really nothing on offense and one of the best defenses in Auburn history clamp down on Nebraska to lock up the most forgettable 11 win season in Auburn history. The 1990 Peach Bowl, where Stan White goes off end to lock up a win over Indiana. Those are something in of themselves, but the 96 Independence Bowl…there it is.

THE PREGAME

On paper, this is a really scary matchup for Auburn. The Tigers enter Shreveport at 7-4 with gut wrenching losses to Georgia in overtime and to Alabama in Birmingham. The Black Knights on the other had were 10-1 on the year but really hadn’t played anyone. They were 9-0 going in to a matchup with Syracuse in the Carrier Dome and got blown out 42-17 but rebounded to put down Navy 28-24 in Philly a few weeks later.

Three things before we get started, I will be wearing this today while watching and the bourbon selection is Woodford (yes, this will become a staple because we all need something to hold on to and look forward to).

The final thing is for all of us. In my time collection Auburn things, I have been able to get some of the Auburn Network highlights of games. Therefore, since bowl games are said to be a reward for players, our reward for going back through this one is that in some of the video highlights will be the call by Jim Fyffe (you will see why I went to this extra step in a moment).

THE GAME

Alright, so let’s meet our announcers for today’s game.

Ok, Craig is good, not fantastic but hey, it’s the Weedeater Bowl…what do you really want. Ok so who’s the…

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! SWEET GOD NO!!!!! Oh for the love. Why have you forsaken me like this??? Can I watch the Peach Bowl instead? Please? Damn it, ok well what about the sideline…

Does Uber Eats deliver liquor? Prepare yourself for sideline reports that don’t make since but hey, maybe Hodge and Gilmore get into a shouting match over some dumb observation…one can only hope.

To get this thing underway, Auburn gets it first from the 26 and it wouldn’t take Auburn long to set a tone.

Ok, so before we go any further…did anyone else notice at :35 seconds in that clip what Rod says? No one with Craig in the backfield? Ok, so rewind the clip to the beginning…Ok so Rod is 1 for 1 on dynamite analysis….*gulp from cup* It’s gonna be a long day.

The Tigers would push all the way to the Army 2 but would stall out after two plays, the last one being this.

So that would set up my second favorite kicker in Auburn history for a chip shot Field Goal attempt

So Auburn strikes first and take a 3-0 lead.

So let’s join the broadcast to learn about the field conditions from Mr Hodge…

Wait…so the field is sorta choppy and the upright is crooked??? HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS BUT THE REFS DON’T?!?

Army would push the ball to midfield before having to punt it away and Auburn would take over at the 20.

One of my favorite things to see is the local flare at bowl games. They always do such a great job of welcoming fans in and making them feel comfortable at their

AGGGHHHHH!!!!! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!! DEAMON!!!!!

Lord protect me.

Ok back to the game.

Just D Craig doing D Craig things here as he puts Auburn in a good position on the drive. Auburn would need to convert a 4th down and Fred Beasley would do the job that would set up Auburn’s first TD of the day.

That would give Auburn a 10-0 lead as Army would get the ball back at their own 44 thanks to a great return. However, the Black Knights would not enjoy the field possession or the ball for long.

Auburn would take it and get down to the 10 before thanking Army very much for the gift and offering one of their own to the Cadets.

Army can’t do much from the 2 yard line and they go 3 and out where Auburn would get it from the 31 and make short work for yet another nice pass play.

That man could read me the phone book and I would be happy.

So Auburn enjoys a 17-0 lead over Army as we are just getting revved up in the 2nd quarter.

The Black Knights take it from the 20 and go 6 plays before punting and Auburn gets it from their 24. On the drive, the Tigers would need Fred Beasley to again snatch a 1st down on 4th down but the drive would stall out and Jarett Holmes would again be called on to add to the lead.

Auburn puts more distance between Army and themselves with a 20-0 lead.

However, Army finally started to show signs of life as they got it from the 20 and went to the air.

The Drive would cover 72 yards in 6 plays and cut in to Auburn’s lead at 20-7.

Auburn would get it at the 34 and would march down the field near the end of the half but a catch a fumble that hit the pylon so Army ended up with the ball and ended the half there.

To start the second half, the two teams would combine for 10 plays on 3 drives, all that would end in punts before Auburn finally got things going from the Army 47. The drive looked to be stalling out before the Tigers decided to go for it on 4th and 5.

SEE! It’s so much better than just listening to Gilmore!!!

Auburn would go for 2 to try and make it an even 21 but would fail so its 26-7 mid way through the 3rd.

Army would get it from their own 20 and would get in to Auburn territory before the drive stalled. Army would try a 4th down play action pass but it would fall incomplete. So the Tigers would get it from their own 23 and would look to put this one away.

That would set up Rusty Williams to run wild.

Auburn would again go for 2 but fail. So as we go to the 4th quarter, this is where we sit

And you are asking me, ok Drew, listening to Jim is nice and we are having fun here…but we want you to suffer while watching and sure, Rod Gilmore is doing good work, but…come on….we want DEEEP HURRRTING. Don’t worry my friends, the hurting is coming.

Army would take their drive to end the 3rd quarter from the 20 and would get the triple option working finally and would cash in from the Auburn redzone.

That makes it a 32-14 Auburn lead. Still feeling ok, just over 12 minutes left, as long as Auburn plays smart, this one is in the bag.

The two teams would again exchange possessions before Auburn would get it at the 43 before disaster struck.

Ok, so that’s not what Auburn needed at all.

4 plays later, Army was in the endzone and its now 32-21 Auburn with the lead. Auburn again would start out with great field position at the Army 44 yard line and would get down to the 23 before missing on a 4th down play to give it back to the Knights. Army would get the march going and would get down to the 30 before going back to the air.

Ok not good…that makes it 32-27 and then the Black Knights would go for 2

Alright so it’s 32-29 but really, there’s just over a minute left and, with no time outs left, they HAVE to get the onside kick, and could they really pull that off?

Son of a…so Army would get down to the Auburn 10 yard line before lining up for the tying field goal. This is too big a moment to have Rod Gilmore mess up, let’s go back to Jim Fyffe…wait. Isn’t this the goal post Hodge was talking about at the beginning of the game?

You can actually see that it is crooked in that clip. It was too wide left but…wow. Auburn would take a knee and get the hell out of Shreveport with a 32-29 win over the Black Knights.

THE AFTERGLOW

Following this game, somehow Rod Gilmore continued to be a color analyst for ESPN and still is to this day. No one is sure how or who he has dirt on but he must because he isn’t good at it. For the record, I am sure Roddy G is a nice person…but if he never did another Auburn football game, it would make me and my liver very happy. Alright, so this was our respite on the countdown. Next week, we get back to pain…I’m looking at you again 2011 season…