It’s Auburn–Georgia Week On The Plains … Let the Buildup Begin!
USA TODAY Sports
It’s Auburn–Georgia week on The Plains! Those words stir up the emotions of all Auburn faithful. While the Iron Bowl is usually more important, the heritage of college football in the south belongs to this November classic.
The first game played in the Deep South was between these two like-minded programs. Auburn won that one 10–0 in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. For the most part the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” has always been close. Only two games separate the series with the Dogs holding a narrow lead at 57–55–8.
With 124 years of history, usually a fourth of Auburn’s roster made up of players from Georgia, and championship implications often on the line for one or both teams; the game has more often than not been a high-stakes event. And this year is no different with No. 10 Auburn set to host No. 1 Georgia Saturday in the CBS Game of The Week.
There are so many great memories of Auburn–Georgia.
My earliest memory of the series dates back to 1958 when Auburn beat the Dogs 21–6 in the last game played in Columbus, Goergia’s Memorial Stadium. The city still holds the record for the most games (44) played in the series.
I can remember the 1963 game led by Auburn’s overall number 1 first-round draft pick and Player of the Century, Tucker Frederickson. The Tigers beat the Dogs that day 14–0.
I can remember the running back duo of Joe Cribbs and James Brooks running all over Georgia in 1977 and 1979. I can also remember being equally disappointed in the 22–22 tie in 1978. Those two legends never got a win in the Iron Bowl, but they feasted on Georgia most years.
I can remember Pat Sullivan’s Heisman signature game against Georgia in 1971. He finished the day 14 of 24 for 248 yards and four touchdowns. Afterwards, Georgia coach Vince Dooly said, “We were beaten by the best quarterback I’ve ever seen. Sullivan was a super player having a super day and if Sullivan is Superman then Terry Beasley is Boy Wonder.”
I vividly remember watching in 1983 as a young Pat Dye led Auburn to claim its first SEC title since 1957 with a 13–7 win in Athens. It marked a changing of the guard in the SEC with Dye’s Tigers taking the reins for the next decade.
For Auburn fans of my generation, it’s hard to not think about Coach Dye during Georgia week. As a child I saw Dye playing for the Bulldogs in Columbus. As an adult I saw him own his alma mater as Auburn’s coach. In fact besides owning Alabama, he made his name by whipping his old school.
Who can forget Tommy Tuberville’s improbable win in Athens over 14th ranked Georgia in 1999? It marked his first win over the Dawgs, and the fifth and final victory of the season for Auburn’s new coach.
Before his time on the Plains was finished, Tuberville would post a 5–5 record against Georgia, including a memorable 24–6 victory over the eighth-ranked Dawgs in 2004.
And who could forget ‘The Prayer in Jordan-Hare” when Auburn faced 4th down and 18 with 36 seconds to go in the game, and Nick Marshall threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Ricardo Louis to break the Dog’s heart and keep the Tigers’ SEC Championship hopes alive.
While the series has a history of championships being on the line, it also has a history of the underdog scoring upsets.
Take for example that 1999 contest when the underdog Auburn Tigers came into the game having lost five of their previous six games yet led 31-0 at halftime and went on to take a 38–21 victory.
Then there was the 100th meeting of the two foes in 1996. The two played in the first Southeastern Conference football game to go into overtime. A 5–6 Georgia team was down 28–7 at halftime, but came back to tie it up at 28–28 and then went on to win 56–49 in four overtimes.
As is the norm, Saturday’s contest will have a lot riding on the outcome. For Georgia, it’s a chance to keep its hopes alive for its first national championship since 1981. Auburn is probably the last team on the Georgia schedule that has a chance at derailing the dream.
And Auburn will be looking for its eighth win of the year. A victory could push the No. 10 Tigers closer to the magic top four of the college football rankings and set up another Mother of All Iron Bowls on November 25th.
Most importantly, this game promises to add another chapter to the most unique rivalry in all of college sports. It’s a week to savor and enjoy. Let the build-up begin.
See you in Jordan-Hare!