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AFT2020 - #4 - 2011 Utah State

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Hello friends and welcome back to the Theater of Pain, Auburn Football Theater 2020. Last week, we had some fun and watched the 1996 Independence Bowl between the Tigers and Army as we hit the half way mark of the countdown. This week though, we get back to the DEEP HURTING as we dive back in to games that make no since and often remembered with an OOF or UGH or I remember getting really drunk after that game. Some will argue that this week’s selection should be flipped with the 2015 Jacksonville State game and after doing a rewatch, those people are probably right. So, if you are of that camp, read this writeup, then re-read the Army write up, then re-read the Jacksonville State game, and you are happy…or insane…not sure exactly which one, but hey, that would be you! This week, we revisit the 2011 season for the Auburn Tigers as they welcome home the fans for the first game after the magical 2010 season…this is Utah State vs Auburn from 2011.

THE PREGAME

As mentioned before, Auburn had just won the National Title and was still basking in its warm glow. Cammy Cam had taken off for the NFL, along with Darvin Adams, Nick Fairley and most of the offensive line so to say that Auburn was looking to rebuild would be an understatement. Utah State was led by Gary Anderson who was breaking in a true Freshman quarterback from the Houston area named Chuckie Keeton who would take the reigns and run with them on offense and on defense were spearheaded by senior linebacker Bobby Wagner. Utah State had been a pesky team to some but had never beaten a Top 25 team away from home and had only won 1 game against a ranked opponent in 55 tries so Auburn looked to be safe as they kicked off the season…OR WERE THEY.

THE GAME

The bourbon of choice for this one is Mitcher’s Small Batch, for those keeping score at home.

So far on the countdown we have seen a lot of…winners…in the press box *COUGH* ROD GILMORE *COUGH* MARK JONES *COUGH* but there is one who has been absent for the most part. She make her only countdown appearance today

AND WITH FORMER OREGON COACH MIKE BELLOTTI no less. How mean is it for ESPN to send the coach that just lost the national title to the team that beat them’s opening game? While I am not a fan of Beth’s tenor and cadence, she calls a pretty good game, so don’t expect much in the way of that grating on me.

Kickoff happens with Utah State getting the ball first. Both teams begin the feeling out process and trade 3 and outs to start the season. Utah state with it for their second drive as they begin from the 36. They would have the ball for 3 plays and on that 3rd play

Yeah…that’s a quiet JHS right there, and just like that its 7-0 Aggies.

Auburn would get it and, in 3 plays, would answer right back.

Mmmm, that Emory Blake acceleration. And after 12 offensive plays, its 7-7 as we should settle in for a track meet apparently.

Well, I spoke too soon, Utah state gets it from their 20 and begins a march, however it looks like the defense has then hemmed in on a 3rd and 20.

That doesn’t bode well. The Aggies would get it inside the 5 but would be cut just short on 4th down and they will kick the FG right?

It might be a long day at the stadium friends. With the 4th down conversion, it’s a 14-7 USU lead.

Auburn would then get it from their own 27 before punting it away after 3 plays and Utah State would begin a drive that actually made me check to make sure it wasn’t the one from before. I say this because, this happened.

And it was followed by this

The only way I was sure that it wasn’t the same drive was because the first one was 15 plays and the second one was 16…So Utah State now has a commanding lead over Auburn at 21-7. What Auburn has to do on this next drive is methodically work down the field and give that defense a rest because they’ve been on the field for 31 of the last 34 plays without a true res…

DAMN IT TRE! The guys just put on the oxygen masks! But it’s a score and Auburn definitely needed that! So now its 21-14 and it doesn’t feel so bad, as long as Utah State don’t have an 18 play drive to respond.

Luckily, it’s a quick 3 and out and the Tigers get it back at their own 36. After 7 plays and running down the clock as much as they can, they punt down to the Utah State 2 and the half comes to an end with USU leading Auburn 21-14 and it’s time for another pour of bourbon. Taking a look at the stats from the first half, Auburn had a total of 16 offensive plays…16. And somehow they are only down by 7.

Auburn will get the ball to start the second half and will get nice field position from the 25. I really nice drive followed that used 11 plays and was capped with a big 3rd down play from the MVP of the BCS title game…if you guys didn’t know that.

That Dyer run put things back at level and it’s a brand new ball game.

Utah State would follow up with a 7 play drive that picked up 17 yards before they gave it back to Auburn at the 12, where the Tigers would look to build on their previous drive.

So a punt followed.

The Aggies would get it back at the Auburn 45 and hit it big with a huge 33 yard pass play from Keeton that set them up for a field goal attempt.

That made it 24-21 Aggies as the crowd at JH started to get a touch restless.

Auburn would get it from the 28 on the kick and would reach in to their bag of tricks to wake up the offense.

Huge play to get it in to USU territory, and Trotter would look to build on to it the very next play

Not sure I’ve ever seen the snap go right through the Quarterback’s hands like that. In all seriousness though, he would make up for it on the play after that.

BROKE YOUR DAMN ANKLES SON!!! WOOOOOOOOO! Legends say that dude’s jock is still on the 5 yard line.

So after the ambulance came out and help that poor child, it was Auburn’s lead 28-24. Take a moment to enjoy this, cause not much good happens for the rest of the game…till the end of course.

Utah State would get the kick from the 20 (after it went through the freaking uprights) and would do that thing where they have a sustained drive and Auburn can’t stop them until.

Until they reach the endzone, at least then Auburn gets the ball back. So Utah State breaks back out on top 31-28

Auburn would get the ball at their own 34 and look to answer.

So a punt was the next play.

Utah State would take it from their own 35 and look to work the clock and get the score to put this one way.

They would get deep in to Auburn territory and face a 4th down field goal attempt to go up 6 on the Tigers.

Oh those tricky tricky Aggies….

As you can probably guess, this was 2 plays later.

And now its starting to feel real bad, with just over 3 and a half to play, Auburn is now down 10.

The Tigers would get it from their own 35 and have a nice drive that would be capped in a fitting way.

No Lutzy dance but that’s cause there is still work to do. So Auburn is back with in 3, that’s the good news. The bad news is that there are only 2 minutes left and the Tigers only have 1 time out to go. So that means its time for uat’s second favorite play, only behind a Field Goal attempt, the onside kick!

Ok, let’s real talk here. How is it a dead ball if you recover an onside kick? If you have the chance to run with it, take off! Either way, Auburn would get the ball from the Utah State 44 and would get to work. After 7 plays, the Tigers had worked inside the Aggie 5. Play 8 would push them ahead.

30 seconds to go and Auburn is on top 42-38

Utah State would get 3 plays out of the clock but would be stopped on a screen play at the final gun and Auburn held on for a 42-38 victory to start the 2011 campaign.

THE AFTERGLOW

Following this Auburn would fall out of the top 25 but would beat a ranked Mississippi State team the following week before dropping a road game to Clemson. If you want a deep dive on the 2011 season, click over to the South Carolina game and I hit up the rest of that season.

For Utah State, they would have a rougher go of it, as they entered November with a 2-5 record but rallied to win out till their bowl game, a 1 point loss to Ohio in the Humanitarian Bowl, to finish with a 7-6 record.

That’s it for this week’s look back at one of the more forgettable games in Auburn history. Next week we begin with the Top 3 and a game I can honestly say, I remember watching a little bit of, but I had to go to bed because it was past my bed time (I don’t know why I had a bedtime on a Saturday night but I vividly remember it), so this will be my first true watch of next week’s game. Until till then, stay safe and please bring back football…even if its hard to watch.