As I watched Auburn play K-State, the same thought kept popping up in my mind: this reminds me of a Ga Tech game. In Cox’s first game as the Auburn QB, Auburn played at home against Ga Tech. The team looked inept, especially in the Red Zone. There was no running game, as the best runner on the team (irons in ’05, Lester in ’07) was on the bench. (Lester was suspended. Irons just didn’t play much.)
The difference between then and now was the penalties. In ’05, Auburn committed over 100 yards in penalties, shooting itself in the foot at every opportunity. The most costly one I remember was a holding call. It looked like one of those “you’ve gotta be kidding me” type fouls that never happened. In addition, it was nowhere near and had absolutely no effect on the outcome of the play; still, the effect of the call was to negate a 40+ yard TD pass that would have put Auburn up 14-10 (assuming a made PAT) and changed the dynamics of the game.
In this game, however, the penalties were on the other team. The penalties that killed us in the opener in ’05 saved us in ’07. Time after time, a K-State penalty benefited Auburn when we needed it the most. Finding ourselves one last time in the Red Zone late in the game, K-State committed another penalty (offsides) that moved us from the 6-yd line to the 3-yard line and set up the winning TD. A fumble returned for a TD later would make it 23-13.
As I look back this year’s opener, I remember the following: As bad as the ’05 team looked against Tech that year, they went on to a great season, losing only in OT at LSU and in the bowl game against Wisconsin. Similar success this year (though I really want to beat LSU in Baton Rouge) would be welcome.
There is one last thing: John Pruett, of the Huntsville Times, commented in his column this morning that, "Seldom has a final score been more deceiving." I can think of a similar game that ended the exact same way. On the road, Auburn trailed most of the game against a team it should have been beating by at least two TDs. Down 10-7 late in the 4th quarter, Auburn finally drove the field with Lawyer Tillman making a spectacular one-handed grab in the end zone to put Auburn up 14-10 with a minute to play. The other team tried to come back, but Aundray Bruce intercepted the ball on the last play and ran it back for a TD. Final score was 20-10.
It was about 20 years ago, I think, as I believe it occurred in ’86 or ‘87. The other team was Ga. Tech.