Tag Archives: Pat Sullivan

Auburn vs. Ole Miss: Glancing Back and Peering Forward

My first recollection of an Auburn vs. Ole Miss game is the Liberty Bowl of 1965. The two teams had not met since 1953. This was the first time the Liberty Bowl was played in Memphis. It was held in Philadelphia from it’s inception in 1959 through the 1963 season. In 1964 the game was played in Atlantic City.

Ole Miss escaped that 1965 game with a 13-7 win. Tailback Tom Bryan scored Auburn’s only touchdown on a 44-yard scamper. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player and its Outstanding Offensive Back. The Tigers’ Robert Fulghum was selected as the Outstanding Defensive Back.

IMG_23831973 was the season that I attended my initial Auburn-Ole Miss brawl. And that it was, a defensive battle.

The game took place on October 6th of that year. That was the day old Cliff Hare Stadium was dedicated as Jordan- Hare Stadium.

Coach Jordan was, of course, humble in his receiving this honor and his Tigers responded with a 14-7 victory.

Halfback Rick Neel broke a 7-7 tie with a 33-yard touchdown burst with just over one minute remaining in the game.

One of the most exciting games of the series occurred on January 2, 1971 in the Gator Bowl. Auburn was led by junior quarterback, Pat Sullivan. Ole Miss also had a decent signal caller heading up their offense that day. His name was Archie Manning.

Auburn broke out of the gates with a vengeance by rolling to a 21-0 lead before the Rebels roared back to cut the lead to 21-14 at halftime.

The teams battled fiercely for the remainder of the game, several Gator Bowl stats were broken, with Auburn finally securing a 35-28 win.

And, probably, THE most exciting game of the series took place in Oxford in 2014. Click below:

Now, for those of you who love numbers and history, here are some more. The last six Auburn coaches’ records versus Ole Miss:

Shug Jordan, 4-3

Doug Barfield, 2-0

Pat Dye, 4-1

Terry Bowden, 6-0

Tommy Tuberville, 7-3

Gene Chizik, 3-1

Gus Malzahn, 2-0

The meetings between the two schools had been sporadic until divisions were created in 1992. Auburn leads the series with a 29-10-0 record against the Rebels.

The first time the schools met on the gridiron was in Birmingham in 1928 with the Tigers taking the win, 19-0.

The largest margin of victory came in 1985 when Bo Jackson ran for 240 yards on 38 carries to lead Auburn to a 41-0 victory.

The longest winning streak stands at nine, with Auburn taking games interspersed between 1971-1991.

Auburn vs. Ole Miss 2015

Last year’s contest was an elimination game, of sorts, and the same holds true for Ole Miss this year. The Rebs control their own destiny but if they lose they can more-than-likely kiss any chance to win the SEC West goodbye.

The 2015 Auburn Tiger football season is at a critical juncture. The same could have been, and probably was, said about last Saturday’s tough loss in Fayetteville. It rings ever more true with each succeeding game.

If Auburn fails to win, then any chance of a very good bowl game will disappear with the breeze which will waft away from Jordan-Hare Stadium around mid-afternoon this coming Saturday.

IMG_2329The Rebels had an impressive, 23-3, win against Texas A&M last Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Quarterback Chad Kelly had a big night throwing for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Laquon Treadwell was on the receiving end of five of those passes. They totaled 102 yards.

Laremy Tunsil, star left tackle on the Ole Miss O line, returned to the lineup after completing a seven-game NCAA suspension for receiving illegal benefits. It appeared to have rejuvenated their ground attack as they rushed for 230 yards. They only ran for 40 yards the week before at Memphis.

I’m not going to rehash the details of Auburn’s excruciating loss, in four overtimes, at Arkansas last week. If the Tigers hadn’t dropped eight passes and two interceptions it would have been, truly, a different story. Hey! It would have been a different story if Tiger receivers had caught only HALF of those whiffs. SIGH.

But take heart Auburn fans! Redshirt freshman quarterback, Sean White, is getting better each week and it appears he could be a star for the Tigers sooner than later.

Here is a look at some of his numbers.

White completed 19 of 32 passes, in the Arkansas game, for 254 yards and zero interceptions. Add back only half of the eight drops and you have a completion percentage of .719, and many, many more yards. Probably well over 300 and, possibly near 400.

On the season he has thrown 97 passes and completed 62 for 805 yards. That’s over 200 yards per game. He has one interception. That came in the Miss State game.

And  hopefully it’s going to get even better for the young QB.

Now, forget the numbers. The thing that impresses me most about Sean is his competitive spirit, his confidence, and his leadership. The kid LOVES to play and he gives it 110%.

He comin’!

Peyton Barber. Another baller. The guy really has a nose for the end zone. He found it four times against the Razorbacks. And he’s rushing for 110 yards per game.

And… AND… Carl Lawson practiced for the first time Tuesday! Will he play Saturday? We don’t know yet, but that is very encouraging!

Also, Auburn’s defense played better. After garnering 14 first quarter points, Arkansas scored only 10 points in the last three quarters of regulation play.

If defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp, can get similar results as those this Saturday, the Tigers will have a solid chance at winning the football game.

So, Auburn is playing to get better. They’re playing for pride. They’re playing for the opportunity to continue toward a 9-3 regular season record and a very good bowl game.

Ole Miss is playing for an opportunity to continue toward an SEC West Championship and, potentially, a College Football Playoff berth.

This is a HUGE game for both teams. A loss, for either squad, effectively ends the realization of lofty post-season goals.

Auburn has not committed a turnover in its past three games. That is a very good thing. If the Tigers can again protect the football, improve on both offense and defense, and get its expected high level of play from special teams, they have a good chance to win.

This game should be a Battle Royale. I expect Auburn and Ole Miss to come out breathing fire and leave everything on the field.IMG_0546

It should come down to the fourth quarter and whoever wants it most should win.

Here’s how I see it.

Ole Miss, trailing 21-20 late, gets a long TD pass from Kelly to Treadwell. 27-21, Black Bears.

Auburn, in an effort to salvage its season, gets a kickoff return of 87 yards from Rudy Ford. This puts the ball at the Rebel 13.

White hits Kamryn Pettway, coming out of the backfield, for a 12-yard gain.

Peyton Barber hammers it in from the one. The PAT is good. Auburn up.

Blake Countess then intercepts a late pass from Kelly and Auburn holds on for a 28-27 win!

You heard it here first!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger Takes and Fowl Play

On September 27, 1969, Auburn sophomore quarterback, Pat Sullivan, led the Tigers into Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. The visitors slipped and slid all over the newly installed, artificial tartan surface of Shields-Watkins field that afternoon. They returned home, battered, with turf burns and bruised egos.

The Vols humbled the Tigers, 45-19, and intercepted young Sullivan FIVE times.

It was one of the future Heisman winner’s worst performances of an otherwise stellar career.

This scenario was one of the first things that crossed my mind, Sunday morning, following Auburn’s 31-24 win over Louisville the day before.

I left the Georgia Dome, Saturday night, far too focused on quarterback Jeremy Johnson’s 3 interceptions, which could have been FIVE, instead of the fact that Auburn had just beaten a very good football team. I was able to view the previous evening’s events with a much clearer perspective following a good night’s sleep and the memory of that debacle in Tennessee which occurred to me, soon after awakening, on Sunday morning.

We all know how things turned out for Pat Sullivan, and I don’t think things will turn out all too differently for Jeremy Johnson. He has the skills, and the surrounding cast of players and coaches, to evolve into one of the best signal callers to ever grace the grassy turf of Pat Dye Field.DSC02280

Auburn and Sullivan regrouped nicely in 1969 to go 8-2. They ended the regular season with a 49-26 shellacking of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and an invitation to play in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, TX.

My guess is that the 2015 edition of the Auburn Tigers will have success to a greater degree than that group who proudly wore the orange and blue 46 years ago. They came out victorious, and they did some impressive things in the process. Let’s take a gander at a few of those who stood out.

Daniel Carlson and Kevin Phillips – Special Teams

Louisville did not return one one kick the entire afternoon! That includes both kickoffs AND punts. Daniel Carlson was 100% on touchbacks, perfect on extra points, and nailed a 56-yard field goal. Kevin Phillips averaged 47 yards on two punts. BOOM, huh?

Peyton Barber and Ricardo Louis – Offense

Barber, the sophomore from Alpharetta, GA, rushed for 115 yards on 24 carries in relief of starter Roc Thomas. He also caught one pass for 15 yards. Barber was the trooper that many of us have been expecting him to be. Louis, he of  ” The Prayer at Jordan-Hare” fame,  had one of his best games as a Tiger. The senior receiver scored on a pass reception of 33 yards in the third quarter and a run of 8 yards in the fourth quarter. His three total receptions gained 54 yards and his four rushes netted 21 yards.

Tray Matthews and Montravius Adams – Defense

Matthews, a baller, picked off a pass on the initial offensive play from scrimmage for the Cardinals. He returned it for 35 yards. He also had eight tackles and was a man to be reckoned with before leaving the game with an injury.

Adams might have had his best game yet as an Auburn Tiger. He was a disruptive force throughout the entire game and it appears that he has gotten his game to the point where his coaches have been pushing him. This does not bode well for the remaining eleven teams on Auburn’s schedule.IMG_2272

Ok, that’s a brief look at the past, both distant and immediate, now how about the future?

The immediate future holds the 2015 season’s home opener. The opponent is the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Auburn should be able to get people healthy and utilize the game just played as a great teaching tool. Mistakes were plentiful but correctable. If it’s true that a team’s biggest improvement typically occurs from game one to game two, then this should be a tremendous opportunity to really launch the Tigers forward toward a monstrous showdown with LSU the following week.

Beyond that, the schedule sets up about as well as one can hope for in the SEC West. You gotta play the other six. There is no way to avoid that, but Auburn gets Miss State, Ole Miss, and Alabama in the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium. SEC East rival, Georgia, also has to make the trip to the Plains as do San Jose State and Idaho.

Besides the trip to Baton Rouge, Auburn travels to Lexington, Fayetteville and College Station for games with Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas A&M. Those are some truly tough tests for these young Tigers but, again, it’s the SEC where there are NO easy schedules and there is nowhere to run and hide. Man up! Play ball!SEC logo2

So what does this mean for the remainder of the 2015 campaign and beyond?

Auburn now has a team with a lot of talent, the most in many years, but lacks experience in some areas. If they keep their nose to the grindstone and improve each week they could have a special season.

Also, if they continue to stockpile talent and keep their focus, they could be very, very good for years to come.

And that brings us back to the business at hand.

Auburn vs. Jacksonville State

Jax State is an D1 school and should be a strong contender for the FCS Championship. They made it to the playoffs last season. The Gamecocks defeated UT-Chattanooga on Saturday, by a score of 23-20. They rode a punishing ground attack to a net total of 298 yards rushing. Troymaine Pope, a senior, accounted for 173 of those yards on just 15 carries. The Moccasins only had 196 total yards, so the Gamecocks can play a little D, as well.

That’s all well and good. Jax State is no match for Auburn and will not beat them on Saturday.

I expect the Tigers to make great strides in practice this week and show up ready to play. Look for Jeremy Johnson to perform more like the all-star candidate that he is. I think Auburn will exhibit a balanced attack, on offense, and pile up a lot of yards, while limiting the Gamecocks’ rushing attack to far fewer yards than they ground out in their opener.

Auburn scores early and often before the starters give way to the reserves who will be anxious to show what they’ve got.

Auburn 49, Jacksonville State 10

Auburn: Past, Present and Future

Auburn's future. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson.
Auburn’s future. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson.

THE PAST

This week in Auburn Football History:

The first football game ever played on November 19th was versus Georgia in 1932, Auburn 14, Georgia 7. The game was played in Columbus, GA. The Tigers went 9-0-1 that year and were Southern Conference Champions.The next year Auburn would join the newly formed Southeastern Conference.

In 1960 Auburn trounced the Florida State Seminoles by a score of 57-21. Ed Dyas kicked his 13th field goal of the season which broke his own national season and career records. But, unfortunately, he was tackled into a bench on the sidelines later in the game and sustained facial fractures. Auburn finished 8-2, ranked 13th in the AP poll and 14th in the UPI.

On 11/19/2005 the Auburn Tigers defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide. The final score was 28-18 but did not reflect the dominance the Tigers displayed on that sunny afternoon in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle was sacked 11 times prompting bumper stickers urging motorists to “Honk If You Sacked Brodie.”

The last time Auburn played a game on 11/19 was three years ago in 2011. They overcame a spirited Samford team, 35-16. The Bulldogs were coached by Auburn’s first Heisman trophy winner, Pat Sullivan. That bring’s us back to…

THE PRESENT

Auburn (7-3) vs. Samford (7-3). Pat Sullivan remains the head coach at the Baptist school located in Homewood, AL. He heads the list of total wins in a career for a Samford coach with 47. More on Coach Sullivan shortly. First a few, quick notable takes on Samford past.

In 1841 the institution was founded in Marion, AL as Howard College. It is a private school affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention. It was named in honor of John Howard who was noted for his work in prison reform in England.

In 1895 women were first admitted to Howard College.

Bobby Bowden played quarterback at Howard from 1949-1952. Bowden was named offensive coordinator there in 1954 and he went on to become the head coach of the Bulldogs from 1959-1962. Bowden compiled a sterling record of 31-6 during his tenure.

Bowden’s son, Terry, was the head coach at Samford from 1987-1992. He was also quite successful there. He won 45 games while losing 23. One game ended in a tie. Most of us know what occurred with this Coach Bowden in 1993; he took over as the head coach at Auburn where he put together a 47-17-1 record. His .731 winning percentage remains first in Auburn Football history.

Current Florida State head coach, Jimbo Fisher, played quarterback for Terry Bowden at Samford in 1987. He was named Division III national player of the year.

Now back to Pat Sullivan. I have been following Auburn Football very, very closely for the past 54 years. My favorite players, through the years, include Bobby Hunt, Jimmy Sidle, Tucker Frederickson, Terry Beasley, Terry Henley, Phil Gargis, Joe Cribbs, James Brooks, Dameyune Craig, Rudi Johnson and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams. Also near the top of that list would be former Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson and Cam Newton.

I have followed and loved, lived and died with these and a host of other Tiger greats throughout these five plus decades. But the player at the very top of that list of favorites is Patrick Joseph Sullivan.

Pat Sullivan is the epitome of an Auburn man.

In his career, 1968-1972, as varsity quarterback on The Plains he led Auburn to regular season records of 8-2, 8-2 and 9-1. These years included 49-26 and 33-28 wins over cross-state rival Alabama. The 49-26 win over the Tide in 1969 is the most points EVER scored on a Bear Bryant coached team.

In 1968 Sullivan brought the Tiger freshman back from a 27-0 deficit to defeat the Crimson Tide frosh, 36-27.

In the 33-28 victory over Bama in 1970, Super Sully, as he was fondly known, brought Auburn back after trailing 17-0 in the first half. The game, played at Birmingham’s Legion Field, was the first win that I ever witnessed over the Tide. Coach Bryant said that the only thing Sullivan didn’t do that day was sell hot dogs and take up tickets. He was masterful on that beautiful Saturday afternoon.

I can still hear Gary Sanders, the voice of the Auburn Tigers during the Sullivan years, on the small, white Philco radio we were glued to on autumn Saturdays… “At quarterback number 7, Pat Sullivan, a 6 foot 190 pound sophomore form John Carroll High School in Birmingham.”

The biggest victory, to this point, in Pat Sullivan’s life did not occur on the football field.

In September of 2003 Sullivan was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his jaw and tongue. This resulted from years of smokeless tobacco use. It was grave. He was given less than a 50% chance of survival. It was the toughest battle he ever fought. He was found clear of cancer cells in April of 2004 but the disease took a tremendous toll on Sullivan’s body.

God bless Pat Sullivan.

Sullivan will bring his Bulldogs to play Auburn’s Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday in a 6 PM CST kickoff. I shudder at the sound of that Samford mascot nickname after last week’s drubbing ‘between the hedges’ in Athens, GA. Auburn will not be drubbed Saturday. They will win decisively. I will be pulling for Auburn to win. I will also be pulling for Coach Sullivan. It will be an emotional night for him and for those of us who love him dearly.

THE FUTURE

What does the future hold for Auburn?

When this weekend’s clash is said and done their record will stand at 8-3. They will move up from their current position of 14th in the College Football Playoff poll if someone above them loses. The way things are going here in 2014, that should happen.

Then, on November 29th, they will face the team ranked number one in that poll. The Tigers will face off with the Alabama Crimson Tide, in Bryant-Denny Stadium, that evening at 6:45 PM CST. If Auburn were to upset Bama they would vault in the polls and in the minds of college football fans everywhere.

A win in these next two games would make the Tigers 9-3. That would then conclude a very good regular season and a spot in a prestigious bowl game. That would be a great building block toward 2015 and beyond.

We shall see.

College Football Playoff – Round One – Auburn vs. Ole Miss

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It’s on!!! The College Football Playoff committee released it’s first poll last night and the Auburn Tigers find themselves locked into the number three spot. Yes, it’s on! If Auburn wins the remaining games on their schedule they WILL participate in the playoff. The schedule is brutal, we have discussed that here before, but it can be done.
The strength of schedule is an important component in deciding which teams finish where. The stronger one’s schedule, the greater the opportunity to advance and entrench oneself in a favorable position. Auburn is in a VERY favorable position.
Now the REAL fun begins.
November should be about as interesting a month of college football as we have EVER seen. This thing is beginning to shape up like March Madness.
Saturday’s game vs. Ole Miss pits your number three Auburn Tigers and you number four Ole Miss Rebels. This is an elimination game. Mathematically that is not the case but realistically it is the case.
If that don’t get your fire started then your wood’s wet!!!
My wife, Melodye, and I will begin our trek to Oxford bright and early on Friday morning. We will set up camp in downtown Memphis and make the commute, Saturday, to northern Mississippi. It will be All Saint’s Day Eve there on the banks of the Big Muddy.
That should provide a terrific jump start to a memorable weekend!
I have been beyond fortunate to have experienced countless such weekends centered around college football and my beloved Auburn Tigers. Considering the opponent this weekend is the Ole Miss Rebels, I would like to take a look back at a few of the games pitting these two SEC West division foes.
A fitting place to start would be the 1965 Liberty Bowl game. It was the first time the game was played in Memphis after six years in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. Despite the heroics of the game’s MVP, quarterback Tom Bryan, the Tigers fell by a score of 13-7.
One of the most memorable and exciting games between these two squads came in the Gator Bowl following my freshman year at Auburn, 1970. Auburn was led by junior quarterback Pat Sullivan, and Ole Miss legend, Archie Manning, was under center for the Rebels. The Tigers jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead but the Rebels fought back to pull within seven at the intermission. The high scoring game ended with the Tigers pulling out a 35-28 win.
The first game I ever attended in the series was on October 6, 1973. It was an historic day on the plains of east Alabama. Auburn’s Cliff Hare Stadium was renamed Jordan-Hare Stadium in honor of longtime head coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan. With less than two minutes remaining in the game, halfback Rick Neel scored on a 33 yard run to give the home team the victory.
In 1985, soon-to-be Heisman trophy winner, Bo Jackson, ran for 240 yards and three touchdowns propelling the Tigers to a 41-0 demolition of the visiting Ole Miss team. Auburn wound up with 606 total yards that day while the visitors could manage only NINE.
The 1995 game wasn’t close as Auburn won 46-13. BUT Ole Miss had a new head coach. He was the former defensive coordinator of the Texas A&M Aggies, Tommy Tuberville. You know the rest of the story.
On October 30, 2004 the undefeated Auburn Tigers traveled to Oxford, Mississippi. They had played nine straight games without a break, and now Auburn head coach, Tommy Tuberville said, “We were running on fumes.” In spite of that, Auburn, led by senior quarterback Jason Campbell, pulled out a tough 35-14 win by scoring 28 second half points. And on that night, the Tigers clinched the SEC West division title. They went on to become SEC and Sugar Bowl Champions and were, arguably, the best team in the country.
Enough of the past. The future is now. The College Football Playoff committee has released its historic first top 25 poll. They have spoken and it is my opinion that they got it right…
1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
3. Auburn
4. Ole Miss
It was the bold and proper move to place the Rebels at number four. They have a played a typically brutal SEC West schedule and they defeated the number six ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Hotty Toddy!
That brings us to the de facto elimination game pitting number three against number four.
It appears that it will be unseasonably cold Saturday night in the land of Faulkner and Grisham. The winds will be howling and the Tigers will be growling. After spending all day in The Grove, the fans fervor will be at a fever pitch. The home team’s faithful is being exhorted to wear red. Miss LeCroy and I will counter with navy blue attire.
Good friends, Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze will concoct a Strange Brew (RIP Jack Bruce of Cream) on this All Saint’s Day evening. This one promises to be a true donnybrook.
Auburn 31, Ole Miss 23
Survive and advance.

Auburn: Gus Bus at the Halfway Point

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This week the Gus Bus is in the shop for a tune up and some repairs. She wasn’t hitting on all eight last week. The ride to Starkville proved to be a rough and tumble one. There were some sputters. There were some misses. And there were even some zebras cluttering the highway that caused the bus to swerve completely off the road.
But be not dismayed AU faithful. The Gus Bus will return to the freeway as fast as ever, a week from Saturday, and fully equipped to make a run toward either Pasadena or the Big Easy.
Here are the stops that newly tweaked vehicle will make along the way.
Back to the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium first. The opponent will be the struggling South Carolina Gamecocks and, barring some kind of total collapse, the Tigers should prevail.
Next stop Oxford, Mississippi. Better check the tires and fluids, change the oil and wash the windshield for this excursion. The Black Bears will be a highly formidable foe. This could be the most challenging game left on the schedule.
November 8 will find a return trip back home. Texas A&M will come calling. They will fill the crisp, cool air with footballs. I know I will be ‘Trilled’ to see this battle. The home team does have a much better defense and they should be able to outscore the visiting Aggies at worst.
Athens, Georgia will be the destination as the Tigers hit the road for their tenth game of the 2014 campaign. This is a hard team to read. One thing you can expect is that the pups will come out growling and snarling. They WILL be ready to take on the Tigers. The Cats and Dawgs create some flying fur between the hedges.
Auburn’s first Heisman Trophy winner, Pat Sullivan, brings yet another group of canines to the place where he thrilled Tiger fans, a few decades ago, for the eleventh game of the year. Wow! Where does the time go? It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in a Math 100 class with Super Sully’s favorite target, Terry Beasley. We wish Coach Sullivan well, but the Gus Bus should flatten the visiting Bulldogs.
The Iron Bowl. The last stop of the regular season. The biggest game of the season. THE game of games each and every year in the state of Alabama. One of the most watched and talked about games across the nation. The orange and blue machine will roll into Tuscaloosa on November 29th. All eyes on T-Town. But what will be at stake? Will either team still have a shot at the College Football Playoff? Will the SEC West Championship remain within the grasp of either squad? None of these questions can be answered with certainty. The one thing we do know is the championship of the state of Alabama will be decided that day, and THAT is enough. But… something tells me that more will be within reach of at least one of the participants of the Iron Bowl.
So there we have it. We are halfway home. It has been a good ride on the Gus Bus thus far. Now buckle up for the remainder of the trip. And what a long, strange one it promises to be.
Auburn faithful, kick back and enjoy some great college football this weekend from the comfort of your living room, man cave, sports bar or wherever you might find yourself Saturday. Take time to enjoy all that is on tap. Refresh, refuel, refocus and GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!