Auburn: Manhattan Musings- A Look At LA Tech- Honoring the ’89 Team

Whew! That would be the collective sigh of relief from Auburn fans after the Tigers escaped Manhattan, Kansas last Thursday night with a win. It was not easy. It was not pretty. But it was a W, and if a team is going to become champions it is going to have to win one or two when they are not on their best game.

In hindsight, which coach Pat Dye once said is 50/50, it was a BIG win. The Tigers went on the road and beat a ranked non-conference opponent for the FIRST time since 1984. That is huge brothers and sisters.

My wife, Melodye, and I made the long drive to the Little Apple and we can testify to this… Bill Snyder Family Stadium is one of the toughest places to play that I have ever seen. I don’t know how 50,000 plus can make so much noise in an open-ended arena but they do. I have been to every stadium in the SEC, except Missouri, and most of them multiple times. It doesn’t get tougher in ANY of those venues than it does at Kansas State. They come to play. They expect to win.

I watched the game again last night and came away more impressed with Auburn than I was in the aftermath of the game last week.

I’ve heard moaning and groaning about Nick Marshall. Folks, he was a gamer. I cannot think of many, if any, quarterback in the country that I would like to have leading my Tigers than number 14. He has ice in his veins. He is a winner.

And how about that D ??? This is the best defense Auburn has put on the field in at least six years. They are nasty. They fly around. They hit you square in the mouth. They play with attitude. They have given up less than two yards per carry since the second half of the Arkansas game. Jake Waters, the Wildcats QB, was their leading rusher going into the game and he rushed for MINUS seven yards.

The pass defense was very good as well. They continually harassed Waters, played some great coverage and limited the big play that has haunted Auburn for some time. The longest reception they allowed was 23 yards.

Now… on to the upcoming homecoming battle with LA Tech. Coach Holtz, Skip not Lou, brings his Bulldogs into sold out Jordan-Hare Stadium with a 2-2 record. The wins came over Louisiana-Lafayette, 48-20 and North Texas, 42-21. The losses were to Oklahoma, 48-16, and Northwestern State, 30-27. Who? The Northwestern State Demons are an FCS school located in Natchitoches, LA.

Auburn’s 1989 SEC Champions will be honored at the game Saturday. This team will bring back many fonds memories for the old grads and all other Tiger fans. They went 10-2 and finished number 6 in both polls. This record includes a 31-14 win over THE Ohio State Buckeyes in the Hall of Fame Bowl which was played in Tampa, Florida.

Here are the scores from that championship season:

Auburn 55, Pacific 0

Auburn 24, Southern Miss 3

Auburn 14, Tennessee 21

Auburn 24, Kentucky 12

Auburn 10, LSU 6

Auburn 14, Florida State 22

Auburn 14, Miss State 0

Auburn 10, Florida 7

Auburn 38, LA Tech 23

Auburn 20, Georgia 3

AND… The most memorable game ever played at Jordan-Hare Stadium…

AUBURN 30, THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE 20!!!!!

As most of you know, this was the first time Alabama had ever played in Auburn and it was the most electric atmosphere I have ever experienced.There has simply never been anything like it before or since. I get a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye whenever I recall that day.

What a day!!! What a weekend to be more accurate!!!

And the Tiger Walk? Wow! Thousands upon thousands of fans crammed Donahue and Roosevelt streets. Auburn fans bellowed as loudly as they ever have. Bama fans stood with mouths agape. Coach Pat Dye led his team through the masses. He also likened it to the falling of the Berlin Wall. Grown women screamed. Grown men cried. It is a moment that will never be replicated.

If I had been a gambling man I would have taken Vegas to the cleaners that memorable day. Alabama was ranked number two in the country and was favored by 3 or 4 points. I knew in my heart of hearts that there was no possible way the Crimson Tide, under head coach Bill Curry, would win that game. The Green Bay Packers would not have been able to defeat Auburn that day. The Tigers would not, could not lose, no way, no how.

If you are headed for The Plains Saturday, do not miss the tribute to the 1989 Auburn University Football Tigers. That will be a treat!

And so… there is the matter of Auburn vs. La Tech.

The kickoff for homecoming will be at 3 PM CDT. It will be televised on the fledging SEC Network. Auburn has been established as a 33 point favorite.

Without belaboring the point, Auburn is a much better team on offense, defense and special teams. I don’t even see how Coach Skip Holtz’s father, were he the coach at Auburn, could poor mouth over this game, but you can bet he would try. Auburn will win the game and they will win it handily.

Auburn 55, LA Tech 10.

Fighting Felines: Auburn vs. Kansas State

There will be a huge and very important Big Cat Fight in Manhattan, Kansas on Thursday night. Over 50,000 fans will cram into Bill Snyder Family Stadium to watch the hometown Kansas State Wildcats take on the Auburn Tigers. There will be clawing. There will be scratching. There will be weeping. There will be wailing. There will be gnashing of teeth. The entire football world will be tuned in to ESPN. Big stage. Big game.

Auburn and K-State, as the Wildcats are often called, have only faced off on three occasions in times past.

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In 1978 Auburn made the long trip to the “Little Apple”. The Tigers came out on top 45-32. James Brooks set a single game rushing record, in the 101 degree heat, that afternoon. He carried the ball 30 times for 226 yards in leading the Tigers to a victory.

Auburn swept the short home and home series at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 1979. They defeated the other Cats by a 26 to 18 score.
The last time these two teams squared off was in 2007. Auburn also took this contest, 23-13. Thursday’s battle will mark the end of another two game set.

Auburn was established as a 6.5 point favorite initially but that line jumped to 9.5 points in blinding speed. Auburn Fast huh?
K-State coach Bill Snyder will bring a 180-90-1 record into the game. He has been the head man in Manhattan for twenty two seasons but not consecutively. He retired in 2005 only to be coaxed back to the sidelines in 2009 after the program went back into a deep slide. Snyder is a lock to be named to the College Football Hall of Fame. He is one of the best to ever grace the gridiron.

K-State is 2-0 with wins over Stephen F. Austin, 55-16, and Iowa State, 32-28.

On offense the Cats will be led by quarterback Jake Waters. It will be critical for the Tigers to contain him if they are to come away with a win. He can light it up both on the ground and through the air. Waters has hit 69% of his passes for 462 yards in the two games they have played. He is also the team’s leading rusher, toting the rock for 193 yards. The guy is flat out dangerous. He can put the team on his back and carry them.

Waters likes to throw the ball to Tyler Lockett. Lockett has 7 receptions for 142 yards in 2014.

The leading defenders for KSU are former walk-on Ryan Mueller and Jonathan Truman.

Ryan Mueller – Kansas State. Photo: kansascity.com
Mueller is a defensive end. He had 62 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss in 2013. Truman, a linebacker, made 89 tackles last year and had 4.5 tackles for loss.

The Wildcats are not loaded with four and five-star talent but, as a team, they are very tough. They are extremely well-coached and they don’t tend to make silly mistakes, mental or physical, that will get them beat.

Gus Malzahn will lead his Tigers into the opponents den with a 23-5 record as a head coach. He was 9-3 during his one season at Arkansas State.
Auburn is also 2-0. They have beaten Arkansas, 45-21, and San Jose State, 59-13.

Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant are the Tigers leading rushers. CAP has 289 yards while Grant has gained 196 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Nick Marshall has found leading receiver Duke Williams 13 times for 214 yards. Sammie Coates will return to the lineup, Thursday, and that will be BIG for the visitors.

Middle linebacker Cassanova McKinzy is Auburn’s leading tackler with 16 stops. Big Montravious Adams is first on the team in tackles for loss with 4.

Now here are some very interesting numbers to consider (with a thanks to Stat Tiger).

Auburn has rushed for over 200 yards for thirteen consecutive games. They have scored at least 30 points in the last 12 contests. Since Snyder returned to K-State in 2009, his record is 5-11 when his defenses surrender 200 or more rushing yards in a game. His record is 2-11 when opponents have a winning percentage of .700. This bodes well for the Tigers.

Auburn also leads the SEC in rushing, churning out an average of 330 yards in the two games they have played. Since 1992 the Tigers are 43-0-1 when they run the ball for at least 250 yards per game; another good sign for the visitors, if they can run the ball well.

There is no doubt that Marshall and Jeremy Johnson will have to roll up some passing yards to give Auburn some balance. With the open date they have had time to get in some valuable reps. This should help Auburn as well.

According to the Associated Press Poll Auburn comes in at number five and Kansas State is ranked number 20.

This is shaping up as a very good football game.

I expect both teams to acquit themselves well. The Wildcats can take a quantum leap in the rankings and in the eyes of college football fans everywhere with a win. Auburn can solidify and, possibly, advance its position with a victory out on the Great Plains in a very tough environment.

K-State should be able to hang close to Auburn for at least a half and maybe three quarters. But, in the end, the Tigers superior talent and depth will prove to be too much for the Wildcats in this battle of fighting felines.

Auburn 41, Kansas State 20

Feature Image: Kansas State University

10 Years Ago: The 2004 Tigers, Auburn’s Best?

Last Saturday Auburn honored it’s 2004 football team on it’s tenth anniversary. This was a great football team. They won the SEC going away and should have played for a national championship. Officially they finished second in both polls after they defeated Virginia Tech, 16-13, in the Sugar Bowl. But was this team the greatest to ever take the field at Auburn?

There certainly have been quite a few great football teams at Auburn. The 1913 team went 8-0 and gave up only 13 points all season. They were recognized by Billingsley as the National Champions. The 1957 team, National Champions according to the AP voters, had a 10-0 record and gave up only 28 points that year. The 1983 unit finished the season 11-1 with a 9-7 victory over Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. They were proclaimed National Champions by the New York Times, Rothman and the College Football Researchers Association. The 2010 team defeated Oregon, 22-19, in the BCS National Championship Game which culminated a 14-0 season.

And how about last year’s Auburn Tigers? This team came absolutely out of nowhere to win the SEC Championship. Who woulda thunk it? Seriously, did even the most dyed-in-the-wool, orange and blue Kool-Aid drinking, War Eagle screaming, optimistic Auburn fan think that the 2013 Tigers had even a remote chance at winning the SEC and play for the BCS National Championship? I had them at 9-3 and third in the West Division… TOPS!

All of the aforementioned teams were superb. They all deserve their rightful places as SEC and, in the minds of many, National Champions. But which group of Tigers is the best in school history?

A compelling argument can and should be made for Auburn’s 2004 team. First let’s take a look at the scores:

Auburn 31 LA-Monroe 0
Auburn 43 Mississippi State 14
Auburn 10 LSU 9
Auburn 33 The Citadel 3
Auburn 34 Tennessee 10
Auburn 52 LA Tech 7
Auburn 38 Arkansas 20
Auburn 42 Kentucky 10
Auburn 35 Ole Miss 14
Auburn 24 Georgia 6
Auburn 21 Alabama 13
Auburn 38 Tennessee 28 (SEC Championship Game)
Auburn 16 Virginia Tech 13 (Sugar Bowl)

Auburn averaged 32.1 points per game, first in the SEC, and their opponents averaged 11.3 points per game. That is a 20.8 average margin of victory which put the Tigers first in the SEC in that department.The 11.3 points allowed per game was first in all of college football. As a matter-of-fact the Tiger defense DID NOT ALLOW A RUSHING TOUCHDOWN UNTIL THE NINTH GAME OF THE SEASON! That same defense gave up an average of only 237.4 total yards per game.

In 2004 Auburn defeated FOUR teams that were ranked in the top ten when they played the Tigers. Southern Cal and Oklahoma, who played in the BCS National Championship Game, came up against only three teams ranked in the top ten, when they played them, COMBINED.

Auburn had four players (Ronnie Brown, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell) selected in the first round of the NFL Draft off of the 2004 squad. Rogers was named the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award which is given to the best defensive back in the country.

1913, 1957, 1983, 2004, 2010 and 2013. In every one of these years Auburn achieved excellence on the gridiron. But last Saturday, September 6th, the 2004 Auburn Tigers were recognized for their accomplishments. The view from here is-that outstanding group of players and coaches, led by head coach Tommy Tuberville, was the greatest to ever wear the burnt orange and navy blue.

Auburn: Looking back at Last Week, Looking Ahead to This Week

That fast and furious Gus Bus that we analyzed back in July is now officially rolling. There were a few sputters and misses in week one. There were also some pedal to the metal moments. Climb aboard and let’s take a look at what lies before and behind. HONK HONK!!!
Arkansas proved to be a worthy opponent, at least for a half. With a bit of a tune up in the garage at intermission and, filled with premium, the Gus Bus was flat out dominant in the second stanza.

Here are some particulars for your cruise through this ride:

Auburn came in third in the SEC in total yards at 595.
They were fifth in total yards on defense giving up 328.
214.6 was AU’s passing efficiency rating. That was NUMBER ONE in the conference.
The Tigers were 100% in the red zone.
.643 was the third down conversion rate for number eleven nationally and number two in the SEC.
Here’s a good one. Hope it doesn’t make your eyes pop out. Auburn AVERAGED 9.7 yards on first down, 7.3 yards on second down and 8.1 yards on third down.
After some struggles in the first half, Auburn’s defense gave up only 61 yards TOTAL in the second half. Only 2 of those were rushing yards.

Some individual numbers from the guys who make it go:

Jeremy Johnson passed for 243 yards in his one half of work and his passing efficiency rating was 243.8. That was good enough for first in the country!
He was 12 for 16. Quick, do the math… 75%.
Quan Bray was number one in the SEC in punt return average. A 15.5 yard average on two returns.
Nick Marshall gave AU a huge boost with his running the zone read as one would expect. His passing wasn’t too shabby either. He completed 66.7% of his passes.
Cameron Artis-Payne. CAP rushed for 177 net yards at 6.8 yards per carry.
Corey Grant ran for 87 yards on 10 carries. More math… 8.7 yards per carry.
Duke Williams. Duke came in at numero uno in the SEC in total receiving yards. 154 of them on nine receptions. That is 17.1 yards per catch.
Melvin “Big Play” Ray averaged WHAT per catch? 38.5 yards. He only caught two but, man, did he make them count! The ball boy did a pretty good job on chasing Melvin down the sideline also.
AND… Daniel Carlson came in first in the SEC in average yards per punt at 53.3 yards per boot.

Auburn’s 45-21 victory over the Razorbacks was THE largest margin of victory for the Tigers in the series which now stands at 13-10-1 AU. My pick was 42-20. That ain’t bad but I do have a wee bit of room for improvement.
All things considered it was a very good opening day for the home team. And if a team’s greatest improvement is from the first game to the second, then the Spartans from San Jose are in for a long, long day.
That brings us to this week’s contest.
San Jose State University is a member of the Mountain West Conference(West Division). As a point-of-reference, some of the other conference members are Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado State, San Diego State, Hawaii, Fresno State and UNLV.
The Spartans are coached by Ron Caragher who is in his second year at the helm. He was an assistant at Kentucky from 2003-2006. prior to that he served a number of years at UCLA. From 2007-2013 he was the head coach at the University of San Diego where he complied a 44-22 record.
Last week the Spartans defeated North Dakota by a 42-10 count. They were led by quarterback Blake Jurich who completed 22 of 25 passes for 250 yards and 3 TD’s. That is impressive. But they averaged only 3.8 yards per rush. Not so good.
Auburn is a 31 point favorite over the bunch from Silicon Valley. This is too low. Auburn should dominate both sets of trenches and have a comfortable lead by halftime. Look for the running game to pile up big numbers. The passing game should get some good work in as well. We should see a lot of Jeremy Johnson in the second half. Running backs Peyton Barber, and hopefully Roc Thomas, could get a good many carries.
It’s going to, once again, be hot and humid on The Plains. This should further add to the Spartans misery.

Auburn 52 San Jose State 13