With Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies slated to take on one of five top ten teams they’ll play this season, we took a trip back to the last time the Maroon and White knocked off a contending Auburn Tiger team.
Let’s set the scene… November 8, 2014.
After narrowly escaping a bout with Louisiana-Monroe the week before (despite an offensive game plan that would have made Dennis Franchione look like a savant), many believed the Aggies were set to walk into a buzz saw. Not only were the Tigers sitting with a #3 ranking beside their name, but they were also sporting a 7-1 record with a clear shot at another national title if they ran the table.
Auburn was led by an elite pair of runners in quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Cameron Artis-Payne. Orchestrated by the offensive guru Gus Malzahn, the dynamic duo tortured opposing fronts week in and week out with an electric zone-read attack.
To make matters worse for the Aggies, starting quarterback Kenny
Trill Hill was suspended prior to the contest, leaving true freshman Kyle Allen to man the starting role. The Arizona pocket passer had limited experience under his belt and was set to lead a sporadic offense against a top five team on the road. It was the perfect storm for a team haunted by injuries, youth, and inconsistency.
At the time, I was interning with a local ABC outlet and was given the opportunity to make the trip to Jordan-Hare – the primary reason for the invitation being that my boss wanted someone he could drink beer and talk football with throughout the trip, and the rest of the interns on staff were more likely to spout off the order of the periodic table than they were to breakdown a 4-3 defense – however, I was so fed up with the soft and uninspired brand of football that had poisoned my beloved team, that I chose to forgo the road trip and stayed back to drink my sorrows away in Aggieland.
I woke up that Saturday morning reeking mostly of shame and a hint of Jager from the night before, and honestly, had zero intentions of watching yet another Aggie bloodbath on national TV. Keep in mind, this is the same year the Aggies lost to Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Alabama by a combined 91 points, so I think it’s safe to say I was not the only one counting down the days until basketball season.
Fortunately, my roommate had other plans. It wasn’t long after I awoke that the degenerate busted through my door like Jorvorskie Lane powering through a pair of would be tacklers.
“Dude, get your ass up, kickoffs in three hours. We’re going to shock the world” he exclaimed. Hungover and looking a little too much like Seth Rogen after an hour on the elliptical, I politely told him to eat shit and close my door.
He would not take no for an answer. Apparently after drifting off to sleep the night before, he had a dream Boone Neiderhofer came down with a game winning touchdown as time expired... Of all people on the roster, you’re going to tell me the nerdy white dude (who’s currently getting ready to kick ass in the 2020 Olympics as a bobsledder of all things) is going to be the one to unseat the top team in the SEC West?
His serious demeanor was the most laughable aspect to me. The dude acted like the ghost of E. King Gill came to see him at 4 a.m. last night. I verbalized my skepticism and threw on a game day polo. I couldn’t risk him being right.
To be fair, I was also 22 at the time and there frankly weren’t many scenarios that resulted in me passing down a trip to the bar. 7 hours later, that turned out to be one of the best decisions I made in college.
Entering the game as three score underdogs, the match up was given little to no recognition from the national media despite being slated in CBS’s coveted 2:30 time slot. In less than 15 minutes after kickoff, the narrative would quickly change. In a mere 33 seconds of game time, Allen would go 5-6 for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
The barrage of vertical hay makers came pouring down after the Aggies’ freshman gunslinger found Malcome Kennedy on a delayed slant route for a 60-yard score on the fourth play of the game. Shortly after, senior safety Howard Matthews laid a devastating blow on Artis-Payne, jarring the ball loose. Fellow DB and future coffee extraordinaire Floyd Raven would pounce on the ball and set the Ag’s up for a chance to extend their miracle of a lead.
Allen then marched the Maroon and White offense quickly down the field, capping the drive off with a beautiful back shoulder fade to Josh Reynolds. The future Los Angeles Ram would snag the ball over his defender, somehow stay in bounds, and outrun a Tiger safety for a 36-yard score.
The road team’s explosive start shell-shocked what was once a vociferous crowd of 100,000+. With a commanding lead and the eyes of the college football world upon them, the Aggies would wind up for a knockout blow before the end of the half.
Two more first half touchdowns by Allen (a 23-yard strike to Rick Seals-Jones and a red zone lob to Reynolds, respectively) was followed by a pair of crucial stops by the Aggie defense. First, with Marshall driving methodically down the field, Alonzo Williams, Myles Garrett, and Otaro Alaka would each come away with key stops in the red zone, holding the Tigers to a field goal.
Then, just before the half Mark Snyder’s rag tag collection of five-stars, walk-ons, and true-freshman would put together the play of not only the game, but the season. With under 10 seconds to play, the Tigers lined up for a chance to steal some points right before the end of the half. The field goal attempt would cut their deficit down to a score and give them all of the momentum heading to third quarter. In short, Myles Garrett had other plans.
The future #1 overall pick barreled his way through the line, shoved a guard to the turf, and batted the ball into the backfield. As the ball hit the turf it fell right into the timely hands of corner back Deshazor Everett. The senior DB grabbed the ball, ran for a 65-yard scoop and score, and cemented his legacy as one of the Aggie’s clutchest performers in the SEC era.
Though the Tigers would rally and cut the lead to just three with under five minutes to play in the fourth quarter, a pair of costly fumbles (the first coming at the goal line, as Armani Watts and Julian Obioha stole the ball in a scrum, and the second coming on an inadvertent snap with under two minutes to play) derailed their comeback attempt. Behind a balanced rushing attack led by Trey Williams, and timely stops by the defense, the Aggies survived a second half rally by the home team and snuck out of Jordan-Hare with a victory over the #3 ranked team in the country.
Though my roommate’s vision was slightly off (the most action Neiderhofer got on the day was one of the most awkward sideline celebrations I’ve ever laid eyes on), his words rang true; the Aggies shocked the world.
That night our group might have paid the electric bill at the Corner Bar, as we proudly sang the war hymn, and toasted our glasses to the heroic Boone Neiderhofer. The win would secure the Aggies bowl eligibility, and provide a glimmer of hope (or least we thought at the time) for the years to come.
With a pair of ranked teams duking it out this Saturday in what has suddenly turned into a swing-game for both programs, we could potentially be seeing some more fireworks between these two once again. Buckle up, Ags.