Posted: 10:46 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014
By Chris Fuhrmeister
It's one of the most crushing defeats an Auburn fan has ever had to suffer. Is it the worst?
If you're reading this, your're alive. And if you're alive, congratulations. Auburn's 34-31 loss to Florida State in the BCS Championship Game was the kind of defeat that makes one just want to slip off into the dark night. But we must press on with the knowledge that Gus will have Auburn back.
Still, a question must be asked: Among the Tigers' all-time soul-crushing losses, where does this one rank. Is it automatically No. 1 because a national title was on the line, or does Auburn's bright future combined with a previous close loss to a more familiar rival keep this from reaching the top?
The opponent: The No. 2 Crimson Tide, Auburn's biggest rival, just rounding into juggernaut form. Alabama had played a couple of close games against Tennessee and LSU, but were unbeaten and on course for an SEC Championship Game rematch against Florida, the winner of which would go on to play for the national title.
How it played out: Auburn went out and stunned 'Bama with a couple of haymakers, taking a 14-0 first-quarter lead. The Tide rallied to tie it before halftime, and it looked like they might run away with it in the second half. But Chris Todd hooked up with Darvin Adams on a double move early in the third, putting Auburn up by seven. The Tigers' D held out as long as it could, but Alabama ground out a win with a 7:03 drive, scoring the winning touchdown with 1:24 left. Auburn's Hail Mary attempt fell incomplete, and the Tigers' chance to ruin the Crimson Tide's perfect season was lost.
The opponent:This LSU team was everything one thinks of when thinking about LSU under Les Miles: super talented and a national title winner, but the Tigers stumbled a couple of times along the way.
How it played out: The Bayou Bengas entered the game at No. 5 a week after losing to Kentucky in triple-overtime -- yes, the 2007 national champs lost to Kentucky. As it always seems to do in brutal losses, Auburn jumped out to a surprising lead, taking a 17-7 advantage into halftime. LSU rallied to take a 23-17 lead in the fourth quarter, but Brandon Cox hit Rodgeriques Smith for a 3-yard score with 3:21 remaining. LSU drove into field goal range with a few seconds left, but instead of kicking, Miles incredulously decided to take a shot at the end zone. The head coach got away with it, and Matt Flynn completed the 22-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Byrd with 1 second showing on the clock.
The opponent: Miles' first LSU team suffered one defeat in the regular season, falling to No. 10 Tennessee in the second game of the year, before losing in an upset to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. The Tigahs ended the season with a 40-3 demolition of No. 9 Miami in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
How it played out: It was a three-point overtime loss, and John Vaughn missed five field goals. Nothing more needs to be said.
The opponent: The Dawgs were finally having the kind of dream season they'd watched their rivals have for years. Sure, they managed to lose to a mediocre Ron Zook Florida team in the Cocktail Party -- no Georgia season can fully go off without a hitch -- but they picked up close wins over Clemson, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. Georgia blew out Arkansas in the SEC title game and then took down Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
How it played out: Auburn was a big underdog at 7-3 on the year and trying to keep UGA from clinching the SEC East. The Tigers took a 14-3 halftime lead, and it was 21-17 going into the fourth quarter. Auburn's offense could't get out of its own end, consistently punting and giving the Dawgs great field position. But the defense was strong, beating back every Georgia attack. The levee finally broke on fourth-and-15 with 1:25 left in the game, when Michael Johnson hauled in a jump ball from David Green in the corner of the end zone, out-leaping Horace Willis, who slipped when he tried to go up to defend the pass.
The opponent: It was Peyton Manning's last ride in Knoxville. The Volunteers had dropped a close game to No. 1 Florida on Sept. 20, but bounced back with eight straight victories to close the regular season. They went on to play Nebraska for a national championship in the Orange Bowl, but that didn't go so well.
How it played out: Auburn was playing in its first SEC Championship Game and trying to bring home its first conference title since 1989. The Tigers started fast -- see, it's a common trend -- taking a 20-10 lead into halftime. It could have been a bigger advantage, but a couple of dropped deep passes to Karsten Bailey kept Auburn from really pouring it on. Tennessee closed to within 29-23 going into the fourth quarter, and Manning threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Nash with 11:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Vols' D clamped down, and Auburn never really threatened again.
So, where does Monday night's loss to FSU rank compared to those? Does some other unmentioned defeat deserve to be on this list? Vote in the poll and tell us what you think in the comments.