The only time I’ve ever cried after an Auburn loss came on October 11, 1980. Now I’ve cried tears of joy after an Auburn win, most notably would be January 10, 2011 when the Tigers nipped Oregon, 22-19, on a last second field goal from the foot of Wes Byrum. The other would be following Chris Davis’ 109 yard run on November 30, 2013 in Jordan-Hare Stadium. That was night of the renowned “Kick Six”, as all of you well know.
October 11, 1980 was the first time I had the pleasure of listening to to Auburn play LSU in Death Valley at night. I had tuned in to, seemingly, countless LSU games from Tiger Stadium over the years. Most of these games I listened to with my daddy. Some of those were from the back seat of our 1963 Plymouth Fury as we made our way home from, what was then, Cliff Hare Stadium in Auburn.
But on that evening in 1980 I was listening to the Tigers vs. Tigers matchup on my stereo radio from our living room in Burnsville, AL.
I was the pastor of the Shady Grove Baptist Church back then and my Sunday duties, obviously, would not allow me to make the trek the Baton Rouge that Saturday.
Auburn entered the game with a 3-1 record while the Bayou Bengals stood at 3-2.
There were several controversial calls that went against Auburn on that misty evening in the Red Stick, and I was attempting to maintain my religion as my frustration continued to build.
LSU lead, 7-3, at intermission. They maintained their lead, 14-10, after three stanzas.
Both teams scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to make the score 21-17 LSU.
James Brooks ran for well over 200 yards that night and I could picture him gashing the other Tigers’ defense.
As the game wore on and time tick, tick, ticked away, LSU had the ball with an opportunity to run out the clock. But they didn’t. Auburn’s defense was savage and they forced a punt with very little time remaining.
James Brooks was back to receive the kick. LSU was mired deep in their own territory. The snap, the kick… BLOCKED! BLOCKED!
Auburn recovered the ball at LSU’s 10 yard line!!!
My hopes soared at the prospect of a victory I could now smell!
On the first play from scrimmage a blue and white clad Auburn receiver was WIDE OPEN in the end zone… DROPPED!
That’ was ok, we had three more downs, and James Brooks at our disposal, and I knew the men from the Plains would get it done.
It was now fourth down. I don’t remember if the quarterback was Joe Sullivan or Charlie Thomas, but whoever it was threw another pass into the end zone and it was… INTERCEPTED! AND it was almost run back for a touchdown.
I could hear the roar of the crowd blaring through the speakers from Death Valley, and now I truly understood that term.
I had been standing and cheering and jumping up and down in our living room; and now I crumpled to my knees, covered my face with my hands… and wept… profusely.
I simply refused to believe what my ears had just heard. NO! NO! NO! It can’t be!
Final score, LSU 21, Auburn 17.
That was only the beginning of the “Voodoo” my beloved Tigers have been the victim of from that venerable old venue.
I know how the Ole Miss fans felt when Billy Cannon ran that punt back, 89 yards, for a touchdown in 1959 on Halloween night. As an aside, most people don’t know that Ole Miss dominated that game and were stopped on the LSU one yard line as time expired. BRUTAL!
As I stated, just above, Auburn has been victimized or “Voodoo-ized” several times in Tiger Stadium.
In my column’s primer for last year’s game, I recounted the story of my first visit to Tiger Stadium. It was on October 8, 1988, the “Earthquake” game. I’m not going to re-tell that story again and put myself through the hell of that memory. You may if you like. Just click here!
But… I will mention that a drunk, female LSU student got nose to nose with my dear wife, Melodye, that fateful evening and screamed “GO TIGERS!!!!” repeatedly, as our wounds were still fresh and raw. I will also mention that our children, Luke (10) and Leah (5), were with us; and I suspect that had they not been, that the nameless coed might have received a severe, old-fashioned butt-whipping, or at least a tongue-lashing, on that hot and humid night.
Oh! But there’s more!
September 16, 1995. My son and I made our second trip to Louisiana to take in an Auburn-LSU clash. This was the night of the famed “Phantom whistle”. Auburn quarterback, Patrick Nix stood, defenseless, in the end zone as he, and many us us sitting in those north end zone stands, heard a whistle. Nix was tackled and LSU was awarded two points for a safety.
Trailing 12-6, Nix threw into that same end zone on the game’s last play. INTERCEPTED!
Later, Auburn head coach, Terry Bowden said that he outsmarted himself on that last play and ran that slant instead of a fade, which would have almost certainly been completed and Auburn would have emerged victorious.
And even to this day, whenever one of us “outsmarts” ourself, say taking an alternate route or shortcut, which does NOT turn out to be the wise move, we say we “Bowden ’95-ed”.
How about 2005 when OUR Tigers beat the snot out of THEIR Tigers, “physically” (as former Auburn coach, Doug Barfield, used to say when AU whipped their opponent everywhere except on the scoreboard)?
Auburn pounded LSU on October 22 of that year. Kenny Irons ran RAMPANT over THEIR Tigers for well over 200 yards, just as James Brooks had done, 25 years prior. Unfortunately, AU’s highly reliable place-kicker, John Vaughn, was one for six on field goals.
Auburn lost, in the midst of swirling winds in overtime, 20-17, as the final field goal attempt hit the right upright and bounced, harmlessly, to the turf of Death Valley.
Game. Set. Match.
More! Do you want more?
Two years later Auburn travels to Baton Rouge and plays the home team off their feet, as head coach Tommy Tuberville’s teams could do back then.
Auburn scored a TD and led, 24-23, with 3:21 remaining; and for some reason squibbed the ensuing kickoff and LSU set up shop at their own 42 yard line.
They began the march toward the visitors goal line but time was fast running out.
The clock was under 40 seconds, with LSU at the Auburn 22 yard line. They appeared to be setting up for a field goal. BUT Les Miles, inexplicably, eschewed the 39 yard attempt and Matt Flynn lofted a pass in the direction of wideout Demetrius Byrd, who was covered, in the end zone with one tick left on the clock.
Byrd later claimed he never saw the ball but it, somehow, stuck in his arms as he fell to the purple and gold painted grass.
#!%#>([email protected] VOODOO!!!!!!!!!
Two years ago, first year head coach, Gus Malzahn, took his 2-0 Tigers into the monsoon ravaged Red Stick. They fell behind, 21-0, in the first half.
LSU’s second touchdown came when Auburn punter, Steven Clark, mishandled a wet ball and the punt was blocked.
How long, oh lord?
But… But… BUT!!! This edition of the Auburn Tigers exhibited great resiliency and played with tremendous effort in the second half. They lost, 35-21, but used that second half intensity as a springboard to win the rest of their games enroute to the BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena, CA.
So, that brings us to the 2015 square-off between these two teams of Tigers.
What on earth could possibly transpire Saturday AFTERNOON on the Bayou? Yes, it’s a 2:30 CDT kickoff on CBS.
Auburn hasn’t won in Tiger Stadium since 1999. Sixteen LONG years. Motivation, you think?
I almost don’t want to look. Auburn ‘s trips down I-85 to I-65 to I-10 have been plenteously painful.
Les, or More, Miles pulled another rabbit form his hat, this past Saturday, as LSU thwarted Mississippi State, 21-19. The Cowbellers missed a 52 yard filed goal as time expired in Starkville. SIGH.
I don’t know what to make of the 2015 Auburn Tigers. They have looked ragged but right. They’re 2-0!
Obviously, quarterback Jeremy Johnson needs to get his act together, and I think Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee will “coach him up” and get him ready.
I expect that the coaching staff will also utilize their first two games as great teaching tools and the talented Tigers will play well.
Will that be well enough to win? I don’t know. But if this team does not play with the same fire and intensity that the 2013 team did, then I will be sorely surprised.
I think this will be, yet another, of those crazy games from Tiger Stadium. But, again, it will NOT take place at night.
In a turn of fortune, Auburn drives the length of the field and Jeremy Johnson scores on a zone read, from the one yard line, with less than a minute to play. The defense holds on, this time, and the AUBURN Tigers come away with a VERY hard fought victory.
Auburn 24, LSU 21