Editor’s note: Each week this football season, Auburn University Journalism Instructor and The 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.
11 a.m. Arkansas. To many Auburn fans, those two factors strike fear in the hearts of many. But this year is different. First, Tommy Tuberville is gone. Second, so is Houston Nutt. Third, so is Bobby Petrino. Although the Tigers struggled mightily against the Razorbacks last season, this year Arkansas limps into Jordan-Hare with a 1-4 record with losses coming against Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Rutgers and Texas A&M. While the Tigers’ record isn’t much better (1-3), the silver lining is Auburn’s losses have come against No. 3 LSU, No. 15 Clemson and No. 19 Mississippi State. While the Tigers hold an 11-9-1 record against the Razorbacks, the series that dates back only to 1984 has usually been close on the field. This year should be no different. But with two teams with a combined 2-7 record, this week we’ll take a look back at some of the better games in the series.
No. 5: Oct. 30, 1993 — Fayetteville, Ark.
In a game you had to see in person to believe (literally since Auburn was under a TV ban stemming from probation), the Tigers improved to 8-0 behind the running of James Bostic, Stephen Davis, you guessed it, Reid McMillan. The big fullback powered the Tigers to victory, culminating with a huge fourth-quarter touchdown run that sealed the victory. Frank Sanders hauled in an early score and Brian Robinson returned a pick-6 to give the Tigers an early lead, but it was McMillan who stole the show in the frigid Fayetteville football showdown (and Otis Mounds who told the Hog homecoming queen to shut up).
No. 4: Oct. 31, 1992 — Auburn
For Auburn fans, this Halloween contest with the newest member of the SEC was more trick than treat. I’ll never forget this game for multiple reasons. First, the Tigers allowed the Razorbacks to come back from an early deficit to earn the tie in their inaugural SEC, but it was what happened at halftime that sticks with me forever. As Bo Jackson delivered a speech honoring the retirement of his famed No. 34 jersey, interim Arkansas head coach Joe Kines led the Razorbacks onto the field and the Arkansas band struck up “Arkansas Fight,” drowning out Bo’s words.
No. 3: Dec. 27, 1984 — Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.
Maybe the 1992 halftime shenanigans by Arkansas was just payback from the inaugural game between the Tigers and Razorbacks. In the waning minutes of the game, Bo Jackson scampered 40 yards for the Tiger score, capping a 21-15 comeback victory. Although Jackson was named the Liberty Bowl MVP, it was the Auburn defense that was the star of the show. The AU defense picked off Arkansas quarterback Brad Taylor four times, including a pick-6 by Kevin Porter. Arkansas fought back following Jackson’s 40-yard touchdown run, scoring with just over three minutes remaining, but the Auburn defense stifled the Razorbacks at midfield as time expired.
No. 2: Oct. 13, 2007 — Fayetteville, Ark.
Wes Byrum does it again. Two weeks after downing the Florida Gators with not one, but two clutch field goal attempts as time expired in the Swamp, Byrum did it again on the road. Following a 13-yard touchdown pass from Casey Dick to Lucas Miller with 1:36 remaining, the Tigers drove 50 yards in eight plays to set up the 20-yard Byrum field goal. As always, sure-foot Byrum nailed the kick with 21 seconds remaining to push the Tigers to 5-2 on the season.
No. 1: Oct. 16, 2010 — Auburn
Where do I begin? The Tigers scoring 20 points in the second quarter? 28 points in the final quarter? Cam Newton’s 328-yard effort and four touchdowns? How about all of it? While games with 108 total points usually don’t qualify as a great game unless they went into seven overtimes, this one is not only the greatest game against the Razorbacks, but it could quite possibly be one of the most exciting games ever played in Jordan-Hare Stadium. For those who didn’t believe the Tigers were serious national title contenders, this one made everyone believe as No. 4 Auburn improved to 7-0 with the win over No. 12 Arkansas. The game contained all the dramatics, from Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett going down with an injury and backup freshman Tyler Wilson leading the Razorbacks back to Auburn using five players to score touchdowns in one of the highest-scoring games in SEC history. Although the Auburn defense didn’t have its greatest day, 566 yards, it did force two crucial fourth-down turnovers that sealed the victory. I will never forgot looking at a friend of mine on the northwest ramp where we always stand (that’s another story for another day) and stating, “Alabama may score 99 points on us. But it doesn’t matter because we’ll score 100.” That prediction didn’t quite work out, but I’ll settle for the real result.
Oct. 11, 2003 — Fayetteville, Ark.
Carnell “Cadillac” Williams was his usual workhorse self, carrying the ball 35 times for 150 yards and a touchdown to lead the Tigers to victory in the low-scoring affair. John Vaughn’s 34-yard fourth-quarter field goal put the game away for the Tigers.
Oct. 28, 2000 — Auburn
Clifton Robinson’s 15-yard third-quarter touchdown run proved to be the difference as the No. 25-ranked Tigers held off a late comeback by the Razorbacks. Arkansas added a field goal in the fourth quarter, and Auburn added to the dramatics on sacrificed safety with 3 seconds remaining to avoid punting from its own end zone. Tommy “The Riverboat Gambler” Tuberville’s gamble paid off as Auburn was able to contain the Razorbacks on the ensuing kickoff to secure the win.
Oct. 25, 1997 — Fayetteville, Ark.
On a rainy homecoming in Fayetteville, the Tigers jumped out to a 26-7 fourth-quarter lead before the Razorbacks, led by quarterback Clint Stoerner, staged a furious comeback. Stoerner threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes with just less than eight minutes remaining before the Tigers chewed six minutes off the clock and pinned the Razorbacks deep on a Jaret Holmes punt to hold on for the win. Holmes also connected on all four of his field goal attempts.
Austin Phillips is an Auburn University journalism instructor and adviser to The Auburn Plainsman. He can be reached at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @ScoopPhillips.
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