Auburn’s first game against Samford (née Howard) was played in 1903. It was in Auburn and it was amazing.
Auburn scored 10 touchdowns. Samford barely ran 10 plays. Because back in the day, believe it or not, you had an option after your opponent scored—receive or kick. Which of course seems insane. Why in the world would you not want the ball? Well, you wouldn’t want it if you couldn’t move it, if it was all but guaranteed that you would either lose yards or fumble, which happened constantly in the first few decades of football.
Until well into the 20th century, fall Saturdays were veritable Fumblepaloozas. There were seven in this one alone. Which is why Samford, like plenty of weaker squads of the era, deemed punting on first down a viable offensive strategy: Just punt the thing and hope the other guys get butterfingers before you do.
But you know what gets the ball farther down the field than punting, at least in theory? Kicking off. And kick off Samford did. And did and did. Auburn was practically playing make’em take’em out there. In fact, Samford chose to receive the ball just twice. One was after an Auburn score halfway through the game. The other was after winning the coin toss. Their first play from scrimmage? A fumble. Auburn scored five plays later.
Thanks to a few Auburn punts of their own, Samford did manage a few possessions. But save for punts, they only ran four plays. Total yards gained: One. Total Auburn tackles: Four.
Defense, Auburn, Defense!
Deterrence, Auburn, Deterrence!
Not that the results really surprised anyone. Folks had expected a slaughter. Just not that much of a slaughter. At intermission, everyone agreed the best way to reduce the suffering was to shave 20 minutes off the second half. At that point, new Auburn coach W.P. Bates decided to put in seven subs to maybe liven things up for the home crowd. It didn’t work. Auburn kept scoring. Samford kept kicking.
It got so bad so quickly that Auburn students learned some of Samford’s cheers and shouted for the Birmingham boys for most of the game. True story.
However, in delivering perhaps the greatest post-victory headline ever, the Orange and Blue was, shall we say, a little less gracious. I mean, just look at that…