10 historic dates every Auburn fan should know
Auburn is one of the oldest, most storied college football programs in the country. Dating back more than 120 years, there are dozens of significant landmarks in time to look back on.
While every fan has their own favorite memory, we tried to whittle down Auburn’s history to 10 of the most important dates to know.
Feb. 20, 1892: Dr. George Petrie, though to be the first Alabama native to earn a PhD, organized Auburn University’s football team in 1892. He chose navy and orange as the team’s colors, an homage to his alma mater, the University of Virginia. On this date, Auburn played its first game against — who else? — the University of Georgia, sparking the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. Auburn won the first match, 10-0, at Piedmont Park in Atlanta.
Feb. 22, 1893: Auburn’s rivalry with Georgia might be the oldest, but its annual tilt with Alabama is the most bitter. Almost a year to the day after playing its first football game, Auburn met Alabama on the football field for the first time. The game was played in Birmingham, Ala., with a crowd thought to have numbered 5,000. Auburn won, 32-22, in its first game of the 1893 season.
Nov. 22, 1913: While the exact number of championships Auburn has won came into question last year, the first championship that the school claims came in 1913. The Tigers closed their season Nov. 22 of that year with a 21-7 win over Georgia, capping off an 8-0 season in which they shut out their first six opponents. Auburn finished that season outscoring its opponents 222-13, led by head coach Mike Donohue.
Jan. 1, 1938: After appearing in its first bowl game the year prior, Auburn got its first bowl win on New Year’s Day of 1938. The Tigers notched a 6-0 victory over Michigan State, which came into the game unbeaten. The game’s only score came on a two-yard touchdown run by Ralph O’Gwynne, and the win gave Auburn a 5-2-3 mark for the season.
Nov. 30, 1939: The Tigers had played “home” games all over the state until this date, when Auburn hosted its first varsity game in what was then known as Auburn Stadium, battling to a 10-10 tie against Florida. The stadium has gone through several name changes since its opening and is currently known as Pat Dye Field and Jordan-Hare Stadium. The first game was actually played three weeks earlier, a junior varsity game on Nov. 9.
Dec. 3, 1971: After leading Auburn to a 9-1 regular season — with the only loss coming at the hands of Alabama in a top-five showdown that amounted to the conference title game — Auburn quarterback Pat Sullivan won the first Heisman Trophy in school history. He led the SEC that year in passing yards, touchdowns, passer efficiency and completion percentage, taking home the trophy in a narrow victory over Cornell running back Ed Marinaro.
Dec. 2, 1972: The 1972 Iron Bowl, which has come to be known as the “Punt Bama Punt” game, is one of the most famous games in Auburn-Alabama history, a miracle comeback by the Tigers. Shug Jordan’s Tigers trailed Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide, 16-0, with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game. After Auburn kicked a field goal to cut it to 16-3, Bill Newton blocked two straight Alabama punts. The Tigers scored off both and shocked the previously undefeated (and heavily favored) Crimson Tide at Legion Field in Birmingham.
Jan. 2, 1981: Following Jordan’s retirement, Auburn went into a bit of a dark period, missing a bowl game for seven straight years. Then, the Tigers hired Pat Dye on this date, and the third-winningest coach in school history helped lead the program to a big turnaround. After missing a bowl in his first year, Dye made nine straight bowls in the most prosperous non-championship era of Auburn football. Dye’s tenure featured the greatest athlete in Auburn history, Bo Jackson, who dominated over his four-year career and won the 1985 Heisman as a senior.
Jan. 10, 2011: Cam Newton, the 2010 Heisman winner, led Auburn to a 13-0 season and a berth in the national championship game against Oregon. The two high-powered offenses engaged in a slugfest that came down to the final seconds. Freshman running back Michael Dyer proved to be the hero, as he broke off a stop-and-go 37-yard run, then another 16-yard burst in a tie game to set up a short last-second field goal as time expired. Auburn chipped in the game-winner for a 22-19 win over the Ducks, giving them their first national title in 53 years.
Nov. 30, 2013: In the sequel to the “Punt Bama Punt” game, we got the “Kick Bama Kick,” or “Kick Six” game in 2013. Alabama had the chance to take the lead with 32 seconds remaining, as they lined up for a field goal in a game tied at 28. The attempt fell short, and Auburn’s Chris Davis was waiting at the end line to field the ball. He ran it back 109 yards for a touchdown, the longest such play in NCAA history, to give Auburn the win and propel them to the SEC title game against Missouri, which they won as well. The miracle missed kick return came just weeks after “The Prayer at Jordan Hare,” when a tipped Hail Mary pass wound up as a long Auburn touchdown to beat Georgia and preserve Auburn’s season. While the Tigers would end up losing in the national title game to Florida State, fans on either side of the rivalry will remember the “Kick Six” for generations to come.