Sean White heaved a desperation Hail Mary attempt as the seconds on the Jordan-Hare Stadium clocked ticked away. The pass fell incomplete, as then-No. 2 Clemson would walk away with a 19-13 win.
Clemson would go on to win the national championship last season, however it was no surprise that the game between the two Tigers was a nail biter. The Auburn-Clemson series has been highly competitive in recent years, just like last year’s game. Saturday night's game in Death Valley should be no different.
The South has many great rivalries in college football. Though they do not play annually, Clemson vs. Auburn has been one of those must-see rivalries. The matchup is something that has been brewing for well over a century.
Auburn and Clemson have a very intriguing history that dates all the way back to the late 1800’s. Walter Riggs, the first coach in Clemson history, was an Auburn graduate. The next two coaches at Clemson were also graduates of Auburn. Riggs would bring the game of football with him from Auburn to Clemson and was also big reason as to why Clemson’s team colors are so similar to Auburn’s.
In 1899, Auburn and Clemson faced off on the gridiron for the first time. John Heisman, whom the Heisman Trophy is named after, roamed the Auburn sidelines as head coach. The next year, Heisman would move on to coach Clemson. Nearly a century later, Clemson hired Tommy Bowden in 1999, who worked as Auburn’s offensive coordinator from 1991-1996 and is the brother of former Auburn coach Terry Bowden.
Clemson's current head man, Dabo Swinney, played just a few hours away from The Plains at the University of Alabama. Furthering the connections, Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele held the same position under Swinney at Clemson from 2009-2011.
Saturday's game will be the sixth meeting since 2007 between the two teams. Two games have been at Clemson, two at Auburn and two more neutral-site games in Atlanta. Since 2007, the games have been decided by an average of less than a touchdown. Clemson has won the last three meetings, but Auburn won 14 in a row dating from 1952 all the way up until 2010.
Auburn vs. Clemson has always been intense, but there is no question that it has intensified with so many meaningful meetings in the past few years. Auburn beat Clemson in overtime during the 2010 campaign. That was the year Auburn boasted Heisman winner Cam Newton and the national championship.
The next year, Auburn and Clemson met in Clemson. Clemson would win and go on to claim their first ACC Championship since 1991. Last season, Clemson won the opener against Auburn and went on to beat Alabama in the national championship game.
The 2017 edition of the rivalry will be the last time the two teams will play for at least four more seasons, as neither program currently has the other on any future schedule.
Clemson and Auburn have seen many monumental games since the turn of the century, primarily due to the relevancy of the two programs. This weekend's game will be a playoff-like nonconference showdown, and the winner's momentum will have the potential to catapult them through the rest of the season.