Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Auburn-Georgia week! Wednesday

1996 was Jim Donnan's first season in Athens, and the Bulldogs limped into the Auburn game with a 3-5 (2-4) record. He was still dealing with the mess that Ray Goff left behind, but would improve the program to at least decent status over the next few years. Auburn, meanwhile, was beginning to feel the slide in the Terry Bowden regime that came with lackluster recruiting, but they came into the game at 7-2 (4-2) and fighting for the team's first SEC Western Division title. The '96 game was similar to the '99 game in that it marked the up-and-coming coach with the worse team (record-wise) picking off the older coach whose program was on the downside. Unfortunately for Auburn fans, it was the Tigers on the short end of the stick.

This was a memorable game in the series for two main reasons. First, one of the most iconic pictures in college football history was taken at this game when Georgia's mascot, Uga V, lunged at Auburn wide receiver Robert Baker after he reeled in a touchdown pass. If you've never seen this picture, you've probably never watched Auburn or Georgia or college football period:

You know what would be even better? If we had a live tiger on the sidelines and it lunged at A.J. Green after a touchdown on Saturday! (I'd rather Green not score, but this would be some consolation) Baker's touchdown helped Auburn to a 28-7 halftime lead, and they seemingly had the game in hand. Of course, followers of this rivalry know that Georgia would come back in the second half to tie the game at 28 on the last play of regulation (marking the second consecutive trip the Bulldogs made to Auburn that ended tied after regulation), and thus the second thing that made this game so memorable occurred: Auburn and Georgia were involved in the SEC's first overtime game. Not only that, but at four overtimes it was the longest college football game in history until an Ole Miss-Arkansas tilt a few years later. This game also single-handedly caused the NCAA to change its overtime procedure to force teams to go for two after touchdowns starting in the third overtime. It truly was a historical game!

I still remember watching the game in a Knoxville hotel room (remember, this was during the time in my life when I went to many UT games and mostly rooted for the Vols) with two of my Auburn friends from school. When Dameyune Craig was stopped short on a 4th down in the 4th overtime, my friend Brian ran out of the room, screaming "Oh God, we're going to the weed eater bowl!" I'll never forget that moment, even if I didn't have a dog (pun intended) in the fight. Hopefully Saturday night's game turns out a little bit better for the Auburn faithful.

Not sure what I'll write about tomorrow, but check back and check it out! WAR EAGLE.

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