Oct 12, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Western Carolina Catamounts lineman Tyler Philpott (64) loses his helmet while trying to tackle Auburn Tigers defensive back Jonthanon Mincy (6) after an interception during the first half at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers beat the Catamounts 62-3. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn returns to Kyle Field this Saturday for the first time since its humiliating 16-0 loss to the Aggies in…1911! Whoa! Somehow I don’t quite believe this will be the revenge factor that causes the Tigers to have steam flowing out of their ears inside their pre-game locker room.
1986 Cotton Bowl
The Aggies also played the Tigers 28 years ago in a memorable Cotton Bowl matchup that followed the ’85 season. In that game, Bo Jackson, Auburn’s stellar, all-around athlete, was stopped short on two critical fourth-down plays.
The first stop came with a little more than 12 minutes to play. Jackson not only failed to score but failed to gain even one yard—after the Tigers had driven 93 yards and had a chance to take the lead.
Auburn was given another chance with a little more than five minutes remaining. With A&M holding a 21-16 lead, Auburn decided to go for it on fourth-and-two at the Aggies’ 27-yard line. The Tigers sent Jackson out wide, but he was stopped for no gain.
Aggies old enough to remember the game still talk about the two fourth-quarter drives that saw the A&M defense stop the Heisman Trophy winner five times in a row for either no gain or a loss of a yard. (Jackson had averaged more than six yards a carry during the regular season.)
If Bo’s credentials as an athlete would have been gauged by that single performance, his destiny might have led him to stay strictly a baseball superstar for the rest of his career (and surely a Hall of Famer). Needless to say, A&M fans and the rest of the country hold this War Eagle hero near and dear, and have only the greatest admiration for him — one of our lifetime’s truly great men and athletic icons.
That 1986 Cotton Bowl victory gave the Aggie faithful a reason to believe that the forefathers of what would eventually evolve into the vaunted ‘Wrecking Crew’ of the late 80’s and 90’s would become a permanent tradition. However, it somehow faded away, just as Aggieland’s No. 1 defense of all-time did after the 1970’s. Though never publicized, that bunch, led by First-Team All-Americans Robert Jackson, Ed Simonini, Garth Ten Napel, Lester Hayes and Pat Thomas, was nicknamed the “Mad Dogs” after defensive coordinator Melvin “Mad Dog” Robertson.
How good were they? They once held a team on its way to the Cotton Bowl to four first downs and zero points, registered seventeen sacks in another and held one team to minus-58 yards rushing, still an all-time record..
Last year’s A&M-Auburn matchup
The Aggies third and most recent contest against the Auburn Tigers occurred just last season at Jordan-Hare Stadium, A&M’s first venture into Auburn territory. For the Aggies, Auburn was a snap-back game from the heartbreaking 24-19 home loss the week before to LSU. This defeat had officially knocked Johnny Manziel from near the top of the Heisman polls to mere ‘mortal hopeful’ status.
Lying ahead for him and the Aggies were three consecutive road games, the first occurrence of this freak of scheduling for any A&M football team since ‘79 when the Ags opened the season with five games away from Kyle.
As daunting as this challenge would be — traveling to Auburn, Mississippi State and Alabama in the span of three weeks — the Aggies would rebound impressively and decimate Auburn, 63-21, in front of a stunned and rather vehement crowd. This loss was Auburn’s fifth in a row—and was a far different outcome from the 12-10 loss they suffered to LSU in Jordan-Hare four weeks earlier.
It was difficult for the Auburn fans to fathom how two teams who’d both played the LSU Tigers in nail-biters down to the wire could themselves wind up on the distasteful end of such a one-sided contest. The Aggies simply came in and ran up the score as though they were picking up free groceries at an HEB. Then they did the same to Mississippi State and, to an extent, No. 1 Alabama, although they held on for dear life to put that one away.
Back at Kyle Field
Now the roles are reversed as Auburn visits College Station for the first time in a century. Since their fabled and somewhat controversial run to the National title in 2010, the Tigers have lost ten of their last twelve games away from Jordan-Hare. They are 0-1 this season, having played competitively for a half in Baton Rouge before LSU’s offense took over for an impressive 35-21 victory.
Auburn now visits a stadium resting in the rolling hills of the Brazos Valley, one that has produced two SEC wins in five attempts. This Saturday, the young talented Aggies have a splendid opportunity to even their all-time, SEC home record against a foe that isn’t a big fan of playing on the road. (It was at this very juncture when the LSU Tigers dropped in for an Aggie home date last season.)
Hopefully it will be a glorious afternoon and the 13-point favorites won’t subject their loyal fans to the same type of last-second excitement that occurred in Oxford, MS last weekend. Just win big, baby.
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