Now that I’ve gotten the bragging out of the way, on to my thoughts about what has been an up-and-down season for our beloved Tigers. We came out with a bad game plan against Georgia Tech in the season opener. But instead of casting the blame elsewhere, Al “Gorgeous” Borges stood up and said that he put too much pressure on first time starter Brandon Cox. Cox threw 4 interceptions and fumbled another time. Cox grew up that early September night and played like a “poised veteran” for the rest of the season.
Auburn played 4 more games in a row not leaving Jordan-Hare stadium until going up to Arkansas to take on the ever-dangerous Razorbacks. It was this game that Brad Lester made his only start of the year. Kenny Irons had started the week before and run for over a hundred yards just two weeks earlier. Lester went down early in the first quarter and Irons made a statement. He rushed for 182 yards and grabbed the starting job for the rest of the year. Auburn proved that they could win away from home and started to shape their identity around the running game of Kenny Irons.
Auburn traveled down to play the other tigers in the SEC. Irons told ESPN cameras that he would run for 200 yards against a tough LSU defense. He did 18 yards over his guarantee in just 27 touches. Auburn lost a tough game, but Cox proved he could handle the pressure without making mistakes in a hostile environment.
At home against
Ole Miss, Auburn played well enough to get by the Rebels in a defensive struggle.
Once again Irons ran for over a hundred yards. The defense kept the opposing
team out of the end zone for the third time that year.
The Tigers went up to the Bluegrass state to play the awful Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats put up enough of a fight in a game that Auburn was looking past to make it interesting. Irons made the century mark again in the first half and Tristan Davis turned some heads while running for over a buck-fifty.
This is where the season could have either turned ugly, or it could have worked out just like it did. The Auburn-Georgia game was a signature win for this year’s team. Auburn played on offense like a championship team in a shoot-out that no one saw coming. Tagged as a “defensive struggle” it turned into an offensive explosion as Irons ran for 179 yards and Georgia’s Shockley passed for over 300 yards. Both teams put up 30 points which I thought was the magic number for either team to win. I didn’t think that either team would, but if they did score 30, I thought the game would be a lock to win. Brandon Cox stepped up on a Fourth and Ten and hit a wide open Aromashadu who fumbled into the end zone at the 3 yard line. Courtney Taylor recovered in the back of the end zone and gave Auburn the chance to run the clock out and kick the game-winning field goal and redeem John Vaughn.
The Alabama “game”
was built up as the biggest Iron Bowl since the 1994 game where both teams
came in with unbeaten records (1 tie). Auburn won it halfway through the first
quarter. But as bammers put it, they won the last three quarters. And if you
add the first two quarters of last year’s game, bama split the last
two years with Auburn. The real reasoning is not that bama beat Auburn in
5 out of 8 quarters, but that Auburn only needed 3 quarters of domination
to beat bama soundly two years in a row.
Here are some numbers that commemorate the Auburn Football season:
1. Auburn had the #1 offense in the SEC. This is after Auburn lost 3 first round offensive players in the NFL draft.
2. Losses this season
3. Kenny Irons started out the Tech game as the third string running back behind Tre Smith and Carl Stewart. He finished as the leading rusher in the SEC.
4. Auburn has won 4 straight over the team from the other side of the state.
5. Auburn won 5 wins in a row sandwiched between Ga. Tech and LSU.
6. Auburn has qualified for six straight bowl games.
7. Auburn won 7 games by three possessions or more.
8. It took Eight days for Alabama to go from 3rd in the nation to third in the SEC west.
9. Auburn won Nine games as I “foolishly” predicted they would.
10. It took Auburn a little over 10 minutes to beat bama this year.
11. Croyle was knocked down and had to be helped up 11 times and didn’t even finish the game.
12. The number of the best starting (and finishing) quarterback on the field during the Iron Bowl: Brandon Cox.