College Football Playoff – Round One – Auburn vs. Ole Miss

It’s on!!! The College Football Playoff committee released it’s first poll last night and the Auburn Tigers find themselves locked into the number three spot. Yes, it’s on! If Auburn wins the remaining games on their schedule they WILL participate in the playoff. The schedule is brutal, we have discussed that here before, but it can be done.

The strength of schedule is an important component in deciding which teams finish where. The stronger one’s schedule, the greater the opportunity to advance and entrench oneself in a favorable position. Auburn is in a VERY favorable position.

Now the REAL fun begins.

November should be about as interesting a month of college football as we have EVER seen. This thing is beginning to shape up like March Madness.

Saturday’s game vs. Ole Miss pits your number three Auburn Tigers and you number four Ole Miss Rebels. This is an elimination game. Mathematically that is not the case but realistically it is the case.

If that don’t get your fire started then your wood’s wet!!!

My wife, Melodye, and I will begin our trek to Oxford bright and early on Friday morning. We will set up camp in downtown Memphis and make the commute, Saturday, to northern Mississippi. It will be All Saint’s Day Eve there on the banks of the Big Muddy.

That should provide a terrific jump start to a memorable weekend!

I have been beyond fortunate to have experienced countless such weekends centered around college football and my beloved Auburn Tigers. Considering the opponent this weekend is the Ole Miss Rebels, I would like to take a look back at a few of the games pitting these two SEC West division foes.

A fitting place to start would be the 1965 Liberty Bowl game. It was the first time the game was played in Memphis after six years in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. Despite the heroics of the game’s MVP, quarterback Tom Bryan, the Tigers fell by a score of 13-7.

One of the most memorable and exciting games between these two squads came in the Gator Bowl following my freshman year at Auburn, 1970. Auburn was led by junior quarterback Pat Sullivan, and Ole Miss legend, Archie Manning, was under center for the Rebels. The Tigers jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead but the Rebels fought back to pull within seven at the intermission. The high scoring game ended with the Tigers pulling out a 35-28 win.

The first game I ever attended in the series was on October 6, 1973. It was an historic day on the plains of east Alabama. Auburn’s Cliff Hare Stadium was renamed Jordan-Hare Stadium in honor of longtime head coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan. With less than two minutes remaining in the game, halfback Rick Neel scored on a 33 yard run to give the home team the victory.

In 1985, soon-to-be Heisman trophy winner, Bo Jackson, ran for 240 yards and three touchdowns propelling the Tigers to a 41-0 demolition of the visiting Ole Miss team. Auburn wound up with 606 total yards that day while the visitors could manage only NINE.

The 1995 game wasn’t close as Auburn won 46-13. BUT Ole Miss had a new head coach. He was the former defensive coordinator of the Texas A&M Aggies, Tommy Tuberville. You know the rest of the story.

On October 30, 2004 the undefeated Auburn Tigers traveled to Oxford, Mississippi. They had played nine straight games without a break, and now Auburn head coach, Tommy Tuberville said, “We were running on fumes.” In spite of that, Auburn, led by senior quarterback Jason Campbell, pulled out a tough 35-14 win by scoring 28 second half points. And on that night, the Tigers clinched the SEC West division title. They went on to become SEC and Sugar Bowl Champions and were, arguably, the best team in the country.

Enough of the past. The future is now. The College Football Playoff committee has released its historic first top 25 poll. They have spoken and it is my opinion that they got it right…

1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
3. Auburn
4. Ole Miss

It was the bold and proper move to place the Rebels at number four. They have a played a typically brutal SEC West schedule and they defeated the number six ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Hotty Toddy!

That brings us to the de facto elimination game pitting number three against number four.

It appears that it will be unseasonably cold Saturday night in the land of Faulkner and Grisham. The winds will be howling and the Tigers will be growling. After spending all day in The Grove, the fans fervor will be at a fever pitch. The home team’s faithful is being exhorted to wear red. Miss LeCroy and I will counter with navy blue attire.

Good friends, Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze will concoct a Strange Brew (RIP Jack Bruce of Cream) on this All Saint’s Day evening. This one promises to be a true donnybrook.

Auburn 31, Ole Miss 23

Survive and advance.

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