Editor’s note: Each week this football season, Auburn University journalism instructor and Auburn Plainsman adviser Austin Phillips will break down the greatest games against that week’s opponent, or notable games in that week’s history (for previous weeks, go here). Break it down, Austin.
After a brutal September, the Auburn Tigers turn their attention to another dreaded opponent: Bye. Yes, this week could be a blessing or curse for the remainder of the schedule. Here I take a look back at some of the most beneficial bye weeks in Auburn history.
No. 5: Nov. 25, 1972
Coming off a 27-10 victory over unranked Georgia, the Tigers needed all the rest they could going into the Dec. 2 match-up against No. 2 Alabama. And the special teams must have gotten plenty of rest, and practice. Bill Newton blocked two ‘Bama fourth-quarter punts and David Langner returned both for touchdowns to lead Auburn to the come-from-behind victory. Punt, Bama, Punt.
No. 4: Oct. 23, 1993
Following a dramatic 38-35 victory over No. 4 Florida in which Scott Etheridge kicked a 41-yard field goal, the team of destiny needed some rest before heading into Fayetteville, Ark. It proved helpful as the Tigers downed Arkansas 31-21 in the snow to improve to 8-0.
No. 3: Nov. 20, 1982
In a hard-fought game at home Nov. 12 against No. 1-ranked Georgia, the Tigers gave the Bulldogs all they could handle, but it wasn’t enough as UGA escaped with a 19-14 victory. The Tigers went right back to work Sunday and used the off week to prepare for the Alabama Crimson Tide and its nine-game win streak in the Iron Bowl series. The streak did end, as Bo Jackson went over the top to down Paul “Bear” Bryant 23-22 in the final loss of his career.
No. 2: Nov. 8, 1997
After an embarrassing 20-0 shutout loss at home to the unranked Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Tigers needed to run the table in order to make their first appearance in the SEC Championship in Atlanta. The pressure would have been off had LSU lost a conference game in the final two weeks, but the Bayou Bengals won out, meaning Auburn had to do the same. The Tigers from The Plains did just that, beating Georgia in Athens 45-34 before Ed Scissum, and Jaret Holmes, became household names as the Tigers defeated Alabama in the Iron Bowl, 18-17.
No. 1: Nov. 20, 2010
Auburn had done everything asked of them. Beaten three Top 15 teams, set nearly every school offensive record in the book, yet it still wasn’t enough as the Tigers sat at No. 2 as Georgia came to town Nov. 13. After trailing 21-7 in the first quarter, the Tigers tied the game at the half and then never trailed again. After the grueling match that got a little chippy at the end (and resulted in two players ejected), the Tigers needed the off week to get more defensive linemen ready to step in for the first half of the Iron Bowl. Although it seemed like the off week was a curse at the beginning of the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa, with No. 9 Alabama taking a 24-0 lead, the Tigers took another off week at halftime, coming back rested and focused to go on to win one of the greatest Iron Bowl comebacks of all time, 28-27. Of course, the Tigers went right back to work the next week, dismantling South Carolina in the SEC Championship before taking a month off prior to the BCS Championship Game. They won that one, too.
Nov. 17, 2007
After falling to Georgia 45-20 in Athens, the Tigers rebounded to defeat Alabama 17-10 in Nick Saban’s first visit to Jordan-Hare as the Crimson Tide head coach, thus extending Auburn’s streak in the series to six.
Nov. 6, 2004
Following a hard-fought Halloween-weekend victory in Oxford, Miss., the Tigers turned in one of the best performances of the perfect 2004 season in a home demolishing of No. 8 Georgia, 24-6.
Nov. 4, 2000
The Tigers squeaked out a victory over Arkansas the week prior, 21-19, and then earned another squeaker at home the week following the bye in a 29-26 overtime victory over Georgia.
Oct. 22, 1994
Following Nix-to-Sanders’ 36-33 victory over No. 1 Florida in The Swamp, the Tigers rested up for a visit from SEC Western foe Arkansas, and it proved to be useful as the Tigers downed the Hogs 31-14.
Sept. 22, 1990
The Tigers made quick work of Ole Miss in Oxford during the second week of the season before the No. 5 Tennessee Vols came to town Sept. 29. The game went down to the wire and Coach Pat Dye settle for the tie to keep his No. 3 Tigers undefeated.
Nov. 19, 1988
Following a close call against Georgia the previous week, the Tigers prepared to head to Birmingham to face the No. 17-ranked Crimson Tide. In another low-scoring affair, the Tigers increased the win streak over the Tide to three in the 15-10 victory.
Nov. 21, 1987
Stop me if you’ve read or heard this before: Following a decisive victory over No. 8 Georgia, 27-11, the previous week, the Tigers prepared to head to Birmingham to face the No. 18-ranked Crimson Tide. In another low-scoring affair, the Tigers increased the win streak over the Tide to two in the 10-0 shutout victory.
Nov. 22, 1986
After falling to unranked Georgia, 20-16, the No. 14-ranked Tigers were the underdogs heading into Birmingham for the Iron Bowl. Apparently no one told Jeff Burger and Lawyer Tillman as Tillman Reversed the Tide with 30 seconds remaining to break the Tide’s two-game win streak in the series.
Nov. 19 & 26, 1983
In a rare two-week break, the No. 3-ranked Tigers were well-rested following a close 13-7 victory over No. 4 Georgia in Athens. The No. 19-ranked Crimson Tide kept it close, but Auburn proved to be too much and made it two-in-a-row over the Tide en route to–per Auburn’s media guide–a national championship.
Nov. 21, 1970
After a disheartening upset home loss to unranked Georgia, 31-17, the No. 11-ranked Tigers took out their aggression and frustration on the Tide in Birmingham, 33-28.
Austin Phillips is an Auburn University journalism instructor and adviser to The Auburn Plainsman. He can be reached at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @ScoopPhillips.
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