Auburn opens its 2020 season this Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats at home. With the season opener in view, here’s a look at my top five Auburn season openers.
Honorable Mention: Auburn vs. Oregon, 2019
Auburn beats Oregon 27-21 in Arlington, Texas, 2019. Led by legacy, true freshman quarterback, Bo Nix, Auburn mounted a last minute drive that was capitalized by a last second touchdown catch by Seth Williams.
Number 5: Washington State at Auburn, 2013
This game marked the first of the Gus Malzahn head coaching era on The Plains. Auburn won the game 31-24 while showcasing a brand-new, unique offensive style to the college football world.
After finishing just 3-9 the year before, a season opening win against a Power-5 opponent gave the Tigers just what they needed to rebound the football program back to being a national contender. Without this game being how Auburn started the season, the famous Prayer in Jordan-Hare and Kick Six games would never be possible.
Number 4: Auburn at Tennessee, 1957
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A calm 7-0 win by the Auburn Tigers kicked off the first ever national title run by the football program.
In his seventh season as Auburn’s head coach, Ralph “Shug” Jordan brought his team up to Knoxville, Tennessee to claim win number one in their 10-game campaign.
Auburn went on to win all 10 games and got awarded their first national championship title. Because of this season, Jordan has his name forever remembered on Auburn’s campus with Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Number 3: Wake Forest at Auburn, 1982
Auburn won the game 28-10, but that’s not the significant part in why this game will be remembered in Auburn lore forever.
1982 marked Bo Jackson’s freshman season at Auburn and he immediately made an impact for the Tigers.
On just 10 total carries all game, Bo Jackson torched the Demon Deacons defense for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Because high school recruits weren’t widely available to watch nationwide like they are now, this game was Jackson’s arrival to the national stage. He left Auburn after four years, leaving behind a legacy that can never be replaced, but it all started against Wake Forest.
Number 2: ULM at Auburn, 2004
ULM at Auburn, 2004. Auburn won the game 31-0 in a dominating statement. Louisiana-Monroe might not be the best football program in the country, but this game was very important because just a year prior, Auburn was put on the national stage expecting to compete for a national title and failed tremendously with bad losses to USC, Georgia Tech, LSU and Georgia.
Auburn returned their elite backfield of Jason Campbell, Ronnie Brown and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, looking for redemption. Auburn wanted to make a statement that they weren’t going to crumble with high expectations like the year before and the 31-0 victory showed exactly that.
The 2004 season is also unique because Auburn went 13-0 and finished No. 3 in the BCS rankings. USC, the team who won the national title, has since been stripped of the championship, and many believe Auburn is the right team to claim the vacant title.
Number 1: Arkansas State at Auburn, 2010
This game was the single most important season-opener in Auburn’s history. The opponent for this game doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is that this game kicked off Auburn’s greatest season in their 127-year history of football.
Auburn cruised to a 52-26 victory behind one of Auburn’s most prominent household names in today’s sporting world, Cam Newton. Newton threw for just 186 yards and three touchdowns but on the ground he ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
Cam Newton’s performance gave way to ESPN and CBS competing to get Auburn on their national broadcast all season long due to his highlight reel abilities.
Not only did Auburn go on to win the SEC Championship and National Championship, Cam Newton won Auburn its third Heisman Trophy.
At the time, this game may have seemed like a small week one blowout victory, but in reality it made Auburn a national brand again and grew the university’s profile nationwide.
Auburn soon developed a new belief that they should be able to compete for championships every year all because Cam Newton and the 2010 team started the year with a 52-26 victory over Arkansas State.
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