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Wrapping Up the Regular Season

By on December 8th, 2017 in Football, Memories 21 Comments »
MSU Kerryon

An offensive MVP

     War Eagle, everybody. Auburn, and SEC, football are now over for the year except for a flurry of bowl games around New Year’s weekend. Auburn is headed for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day to play the undefeated Central Florida Golden Knights. That game will kick off at 11:30 AM Central Standard Time, and it will be televised on ESPN.

     Auburn will have to show up ready to play. UCF would love nothing more than to come in and knock off an upper echelon SEC team and make a case for why it was a mistake to leave the American Conference Champion out of the playoff. I remember a Liberty Bowl back in 2010 involving Central Florida. Georgia thought that it would cakewalk through that one. Instead, Central Florida beat the Bulldogs, 10–6.

     Competition on television will be fierce for this game. New Year’s Day is on a Monday, and there was a bit of a scramble to get all of the bowl games played on Saturday and Monday and not go head to head with the NFL on Sunday. Auburn is playing basically in the same time slot as 2 other bowls, all kicking off on or before noon. Michigan plays South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, and LSU plays Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl.

     After the jump, we’ll take a look back at this season, and Auburn’s opponents. It’s hard to fathom that just 4 months ago a lot of the discussion around Auburn was whether or not head coach Gus Malzahn would be around at the end of the year. Now, Gus’ job is quite secure, and he’ll be well compensated going forward. This was a year of unprecedented bloodletting in the SEC with 6 teams having to find a new head coach within the span of 6 months.

     Auburn opened the season at home against Georgia Southern. The Eagles had high hopes this year, returning to their option-running roots. The triple option went nowhere against Auburn as the Eagles were held without any offensive points. Their lone score came on a sack-fumble scoop and score. Auburn rolled over the Eagles by the score of 41–7. Georgia Southern had a train wreck of a season, which saw head coach Tyson Summers get fired midway through the season. The Eagles finished 2–10 on the year and in next to last place in the Sun Belt Conference.

     Auburn then traveled to Clemson to take on the defending national champions. The Tigers were able to dink and dunk the ball down the field early for a pair of field goals, but then the Clemson defense asserted itself. Auburn managed only 38 rushing yards on the day and gave up 11 quarterback sacks. Auburn fell, 14-–6. Clemson finished the regular season 11–1, and waxed Miami in the ACC title game, 38–3. Clemson is the top seed in the college football playoff and will take on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s night.

     Homecoming came early to Auburn this year as Auburn hosted the Mercer Bears. Auburn chewed up the passing yards in this one as Jarrett had a season-high 364 yards. However, Auburn turned the ball over 5 times, and it was close till well into the 4th quarter. Auburn won, 24–10, but it was hardly an inspiring win. Mercer finished the season 5–6 overall, 4–4 in the FCS Southern Conference.

     Next up was a road trip to Columbia, Missouri. Auburn jumped on the Missouri Tigers early and often with Kerryon Johnson scoring Auburn’s first 5 touchdowns on the ground. Auburn led 31–7 at the half and coasted to a 51–14 win. Missouri started the season just 1–5 but rebounded to win its last 6 games in a row. Mizzou finished the season 7–5, 4–4 in the SEC. It is headed to the Texas Bowl in Houston on Wednesday the 27th to face the Texas Longhorns.

     Auburn returned home to host a dangerous Mississippi State squad. Auburn got out to a bit of a slow start, leading just 21–10 at the half. The Tigers did shut down dangerous MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, and the floodgates opened in the second half as Auburn exploded to a 49–10 win. Mississippi State finished the season 8–4, 4–4 in the SEC. It will head to the TaxSlayer Bowl on Saturday, December 30th to take on Louisville.

     Ole Miss traveled to Auburn and ran into a buzz saw in the first half. Auburn raced out to a 35–3 halftime lead, shifted into neutral, and allowed some consolation touchdowns. Auburn won the game, 44–23. Ole Miss struggled through a difficult season with interim coach Matt Luke but came up with a huge Egg Bowl win over Mississippi State to finish the season at 6–6, 3–5 in the SEC.

     In Baton Rouge Auburn roared out to a 17–0 first quarter lead that eventually became 20–0, then 23–7. Auburn tried to go conservative and run the clock and got bit. The Tigers gave up a 74-yard punt return touchdown in the early 4th quarter, and all momentum was lost. LSU edged Auburn, 27–23. LSU went on to finish 9–3, 6–2 in the SEC. It will play in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day against Notre Dame.

     Auburn then traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Tigers toyed around with the Razorbacks in a bit of a hangover first half against Arkansas. Kamryn Pettway had his best game of the season as Auburn broke the game open in the second half, winning 52–20. Arkansas had a tough year, finishing 4–8, 1–7 in the SEC.

     After a bye week, Auburn traveled to College Station, Texas to play Texas A&M. Auburn trailed the Aggies for a good chunk of the first half but dramatically hit a long touchdown pass and then blocked a punt for another score to take a 21–13 halftime lead. From there, Auburn pulled away, winning 42–27. Texas A&M finished the season 7–5, 4–4 in the SEC. Texas A&M heads to the Belk Bowl for a Friday, December 29 noon kickoff against Wake Forest.

     Hosting number 1 ranked Georgia, Auburn trailed for much of the first half before storming to a 16–7 halftime lead. Auburn dominated the second half and won going away, 40–17. Suddenly, Auburn folks were talking titles! Georgia finished the regular season 11–1, 7–1 in the SEC and was the Eastern Division Champion. Auburn would see these guys again.

     The weekend before Thanksgiving, Auburn hosted Louisiana Monroe. Expecting an easy win, Auburn instead found itself in a fight with ULM, and only a late first half touchdown bomb gave Auburn a 14–7 lead at the half. Auburn put the game away in the 2nd half with a couple of big plays by Kam Martin and a pick six by Nick Ruffin. Auburn won it, 42–14. Auburn started a little swoon for Louisiana Monroe as it lost its last 3 games to finish 4–8, 4–4 in the Sun Belt Conference.

     The Iron Bowl rolled around with Auburn hosting Alabama. A tight game was played. Auburn kicked a field goal as time expired in the first half, to take a 10–7 lead to the locker room. Alabama stormed back down the field to start the second half, punching in a touchdown that looked all too easy. Auburn slammed the door from there, and the final score was 26-14 Auburn. Auburn was the SEC Western Division Champion, and Alabama finished as a co-champ. Despite not winning its division, Alabama managed to secure the 4th spot in the College Football Playoff. It will play Clemson in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Night.

     Auburn went to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in a rematch. With all-star back Kerryon Johnson limited, Auburn wasn’t able to move the Georgia defense and suffered a 28–7 loss. Georgia won the SEC Title and is the number-two seed in the college football playoff. In the afternoon on New Year’s Day, Georgia will play Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl .

     Auburn finished the season at 10–3 and will head to Atlanta with a chance to get to 11. There were tribulations at times this season, but for me, it was awfully awesome knocking off number one Georgia and then top-ranked Alabama in the span of two weeks.

21 Comments

  1. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    Excellent review, Acid.

    For those who have to deal with Alabama fans through the holiday season, tell them that Alabama still needs to catch up to Auburn. When they ask why or how, tell them that the Tigers already beat two playoff teams this year.

    And if the worse case scenario unfolds for either SEC team winning the championship – say ‘So you beat two teams in the CFP? So did we!’

    War Eagle!

  2. Jason Wright says:

    Enjoyed the read Acid. It was an up and down season but it was fun. How many do you see leaving us next year for the NFL and how do you expect the O-line to look next year without Smith?

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Missed this, earlier. I don’t think even various players know, right now, if they are headed out early for the NFL draft. Auburn’s highest rated non-senior right now, is Kerryon Johnson. Given his history, that move might make sense.

      …..Auburn will sorely miss Braden Smith, and Austin Golson on the line. Smith is Auburn’s highest graded player, period. And Golson became a player that could be plugged in anywhere on the line, and do a great job.

  3. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    Jeremy Pruitt going to UT. Looks like Steele will be in Auburn for another year, max. He will be a HC soon

  4. wdwehrs says:

    As successful as this season was, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Auburn had not lost to LSU. Suppose, their only losses had to come to playoff semifinalists in Georgia and Clemson. I would think if that had been the case, then the playoff committee might very well have put Auburn in over Alabama. Oh well, still a good season.

    • Jonathon Jonathon says:

      Exactly. The committee says they’ll put in the best teams at the point of voting. If that is true then they’d put in the Conference Champions for winning the day before. To add to that, yeah I’ll say it, Ohio St.’s loss to Iowa wasn’t pretty. They did regroupe and rattled off four wins, mostly in convincing fashion over a couple of ranked teams mind you. All this while UAT lost their last game stamping the last memory anyone had of their season shutting them out of the Conference Championship and then getting in on the committees cowardly vote of ‘who lost in a worse way?’ (whenever that loss occurred apparently). If that criteria is more important than defining Conference Champions as the only ones who should be considered the system isn’t just flawed, it’s setup to be rigged. And Dabo who sheepishly, cowered away from his vote to put Ohio St. in when it was his time to ‘man-up’ in front of Saban is a complete joke and reiterates the ‘rigged’ feeling. Whew.. rant over.

  5. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    I almost “fixed” it for you but then wasn’t sure if you left out the Bama part of the score intentionally… Doesn’t matter, the best team still won!

    And, Acid, I have to agree – this was a great season and every FBS team hopes to have at least a chance to get to 11 wins – Not too many have a realistic chance at that. Yes, we wanted a bit more but still accomplished SO very much. And, so far, entire coaching staff still intact.

  6. Jason Wright says:

    Hey Acid, Did you see my question in above comments?

  7. Orangeblood says:

    Great Season, just failed to finish it. Think Gus Coaching kinda failed us in SECCG. ONLY 7 points… yesh? Depended on KJ to carry us.
    Should had used other backs more.
    Turnovers cost us!!!!

    Think Ga vs Oka going to be superduper fabulous game. Rootn for the Dawgs all the way. Dont think Baker will have a lot time in the pocket.

    Hope Clemson slams door on the tiders, would be very be happy with a beat down of about 28-0!

    As soon as the Red Empire got chosen…all the crimson arrogance awakened like the force here in Ft Walton Beach.

    Wishing a win for every team in the SEC in the Bowl season , except one.

    Go Tigers. … Time to get comfortable in the Mercedes Benz dome. Starts with the Peach.

  8. meathead530 says:

    Overall, a good season. But also a season that “could have been.”

    It’s funny how the elephants have dismissed the Iron Bowl loss now, like it isn’t a big deal. Yeah, right.

    I’m ready for the Peach Bowl and for the tigers to slaughter the knights. I’m also ready for the Clemson tigers to embarrass Bama.

  9. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Did someone say the season is OVER?
    Say it aint so!

    I was hoping we would play Notre Dame in the Peach Bowl.

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