/Memories of State-Auburn

Memories of State-Auburn

This Saturday’s meeting will be the 90th between Auburn and Mississippi State. Auburn has won 61 and 26 respectively, while there have been two tie. They played in Columbus on Oct. 27, 1905 for the first time. It’s not clear why. Auburn won 18-0. State has won two consecutive games and will attempt to win a streak of at least three straight against Auburn, for the third time in its history. More statistics: Dan Mullen is 3-4 against Auburn, and Gus Malzahn is 2-1. Auburn is leading with 12 wins, six losses, and one tie in Starkville games. I consider the last meeting between the two teams in Starkville to be one of the most memorable in Bulldog football history. It was exactly two years ago on Tuesday. State beat Auburn 38 to 23, in the game that propelled them to No. The Bulldogs are the No. 1 team in the nation. The last time I spoke with you was two years ago, just before the Southern Mississippi State match. Part of my presentation was to tell you about the five best USM-Mississippi State matches I’ve ever seen. Tonight I want to share five of the most memorable State-Auburn games that I have ever seen. One is notable for all the wrong reasons. Auburn defeated State 3 to 2, at Scott Field on Sept. 13, 2008. This was a match that only the mother of the defensive coordinator could love. She would also have to be blind. Auburn’s center was called for holding in an end zone. State received its only point. It was one-two, three-punts, one-two, three punts, and one-two, three punts otherwise. It happened over and over. On my return to Jackson, I thought of that. It was three hours that I will never get back. After I had written 800 words about a game that ended with 3-2. It’s worth a try. My No. The Auburn-Mississippi State match that I remember the most is the one from two years ago. State was ranked No. Auburn was ranked No. 3 in the country. 2. State was celebrating victories over No. 8 LSU, and No. 6 Texas A & M is looking for its third consecutive victory over a Top 10 Team. State has been in a big game like this many times and it has not worked out well. This all changed. The State team went up 21 points to nothing, and then they fought off two Auburn rallies. Dak Prescott threw 246 and ran for only 121. Dan Mullen’s postgame speech to his team. The locker room at Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame hosts several games every day. After that game, I wrote a column about Mississippi State fans. No. 1 in the nation. No. Bob Hartley, who was one of the founding members of this club, is number 1. The 1980 State-Auburn game in Jackson is my second favorite. It was my second year in The Clarion-Ledger, and Emory bellard’s second year in State. I was the State beat guy. My job was to cover Bulldogs. We were still trying to figure out those Bulldogs. They were good enough to beat Jim Kelly on the road and Miami. They had also lost to Southern Miss 42-14 on homecoming. I thought that Auburn would be a good indicator. State won the game 24-21 with John Bond as the leader. Some of you may recall what happened in the following two weeks. State defeated Alabama 6 to 3, LSU 56 to 31, Ole Miss 19-14, and Alabama 5 to 3. I can recall writing that State had finally killed Murderers’ Row. No. The 1999 game would rank 3 on my State Auburn list. Jackie Sherrill coached State and was ranked No. 14 and was a slight favourite. Auburn, coached first-year coach Tommy Tuberville just moved from Ole Miss. They were 3 and 2, and had beaten LSU 41 to 7. This was one of the greatest comebacks for the Bulldogs. They trailed 16 to nothing in the third quarter. Wayne Madkin, who had a torn tendon in the index finger, was also on the bench. Matt Wyatt, my good friend, said that Sherill approached Wayne Madkin at halftime and informed him that Wayne couldn’t play and it was his turn to win. It is hard to imagine Matt thinking that. “Gee, thanks coach, we’re now down 16 to nothing on our road, hostile crowd…they are beating our brains into… thanks a lot.” Matt was from Prattville, which is about an hour drive from Auburn. In fact, he had quarterbacked State to a victory of 20 to none over Auburn in his sophomore season. After a slow start to the third quarter, Matt led State on a field goal drive that ended in the third. Scott Westerfield’s field goal reduced it to 16-3. Then Matt hit C.J. Sirmones scored a 16-yard touchdown pass to C.J., making it 16-10 with three minutes remaining. Tommy Tuberville was outwitted by Tommy Tuberville, and took a safety with just 50 seconds remaining that made it 16-12. It wasn’t a bad strategy to kick from the 20, rather than out of your own zone. At that point, a six-point or four-point lead didn’t matter. The strategy’s flaw was that Pig Prather returned the safety ball 41 yards, and Matt Wyatt hit Matt Butler for the winning touchdown pass with only 18 ticks remaining. It’s rare to hear 81,000 people become so quiet quickly. Or, 3,000 people in one corner get so loud. This victory raised State to 6 and 0, en route to 8 or 0. You might not be aware of this. State got a 15-yard excessive celebration penalty. Sherrill chose to kneel instead of taking the extra point and risking a block or return that would have tied the game. Everyone tried to locate Matt so he could get back on the field. He was out of the game after he was slapped on the helmet by his teammates. Concussed. Couldn’t go. State was penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration, but could have received 15 more for nearly killing their own quarterback. Another quarterback came in and took a knee, and that was it. An Auburn win is my last memorable Auburn-State match. Bo Jackson is a true legend in Auburn football. Many of you may recall that Emory Bellard, Mississippi State and Mississippi State had Bo’s back for the first three seasons. Bo was a freshman and he got 59 yards against State. In 1983, as a sophomore against State, he only managed 33 yards. Bo was injured as a junior and didn’t play. He did play against State in 1985’s Heisman Trophy season. Bo was able to carry 26 times for 169 yards with two touchdowns in a tough 21-9 win. Bo was the human highlight film, as is often the case. In all, State kept Bo under 300 yards during the three games against State. This is something that few teams can claim. Continue reading Rick Cleveland’s Sports Daily blog.