To See Where You are Going, You Have to Know Where You Been (1957 National Championship Edition)
You have all heard the expression that good offense wins games but good defense wins championships. That was exactly the case in 1957 when a stifling Auburn defense led the Tigers to the National Championship. Jackie Burkett, a member of the team called the defense simply “extraordinary.” Everyone knows about the 1957 team but not many know we came close to repeating the feat in 1958. More on that team later.
In the summer of 1957 Shug Jordan dismissed returning starting quarterback, Jimmy Cook for a violation of team rules. There was very little tolerance for any extracurricular shenanigans back then. He was replaced by a third string halfback, Lloyd Nix. Jordan said, “I’m not worried about Lloyd’s ability to get the job done. He’s not flashy, but he gets that job done, and that’s what counts.” His two year record as a starter, 19-0-1.
Oklahoma was the preseason #1 team after an impressive 40 straight wins, and AU opened at #17. Auburn began the season with a hard fought 7-0 win to home standing Tennessee, then clobbered UTC, 40-7. The touchdown that Chattanooga scored was against the reserves after AU had the game well in hand. Kentucky and Georgia Tech were up next and Auburn won both snoozers, 6-0 and 3-0. The starters had still not allowed a score.
Next up was an away game in Houston. The Tigers scored on the first play and the rout was on. Jordan put in everyone but the water boy in the first half. Auburn got deep in Houston territory again, and on the last play of the half Jordan told Nix, “Lloyd, get your ends in there and put it in the end zone.” Nix rolled out to pass and a defensive lineman tipped the ball into the waiting hands of a Houston defensive back who ran it back 98 yards for a touchdown. Jordan didn’t wait till they got in the locker room. He met Nix at midfield and said, “Lloyd, dammit, I meant this end zone.” The final was 48-7.
A 13-0 win against then 19th ranked Florida Gators and a 15-7 win against 17th ranked Mississippi State were followed by a 6-0 win over Georgia and a 29-7 win in Tallahassee against the Florida State Seminoles. Both scores in those games were also with the second and third string Tigers in the game. In the Georgia game Auburn led 6-0 at the half, but fumbled twice inside their own 15 yard line on their first two series of the second half. The Tiger “D” stoned the Bulldogs on 8 tries and preserved the shutout.
The Iron Bowl put the big capper on the season. Up 34-0 at the half the Tiger faithful started to chant, 56!, 56! wanting to top the 55-0 win Bama had in 1948. Jordan chose not to run up the score, but Auburn finished a perfect season with a 40-0 pasting of Alabama that day. Auburn was 10-0 and the starting defense had not been scored on. Remarkable!!!
Auburn was on bowl probation and Woody Hayes was adamant that the 9-1 Ohio State Buckeyes should be voted the Natty but AU administrator Bill Beckwith called every AP voter in the Southeast and lobbied them to vote for Auburn. It worked, and AU had its trophy.
Now the 1958 season. AU went 9-0-1 with only another tipped pass for a touchdown against Ga. Tech, allowing a 6-6 tie, kept them from repeating as National Champions.
Jimmy “Red” Phillips was an All American and DT Zeke Smith won the Outland Trophy. Billy Atkins, Lloyd Nix, Jackie Burkett and Tommy Lorino were also top players for Auburn.
Here are some mind blowing statistics from the season:
2.8 points per game allowed, none by the starters
109 total pass attempts
525 total rushing attempts
17 players had rushing yardage
18 players were drafted by the NFL
The 2010 season was great but the 1957 team was incredible by any yardstick.
Top of the Mountain
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
No more dueling jokes from now on. I can’t stand to do it anymore.
A guy goes into a bar and asks the bartender if he wants to hear a good Alabama joke. The bartender says, “Before you tell it, you should know that I am 6-2 and weigh 225 and I’m an Alabama fan. See that guy at the end of the bar? He’s 6-4 and weighs 250 and he’s an Alabama fan, too. And see the guy at the other end of the bar? He’s 6-6 and weighs 280 and he’s an Alabama fan, too! Now, do you still want to tell your Alabama joke?” The guy says, “Nah.” To which the bartender smiles and says, “What’s the matter? Are you chicken?” The guy says, “Nah. I just don’t want to have to explain it three times.”