Add Saturday's 41-34 win over Mississippi State at Jordan-Hare Stadium to the list. It won't rank with the Tigers' National Championship win over Oregon a few months ago, but Saturday's win over the Bulldogs was special.
While Bates enjoyed one of his best games as an Auburn Tiger after moving to linebacker last year after starting at safety as a true freshman in 2009, he was happiest for Ryan Smith, who made the tackle on Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf inside the one-yard line on the last play to preserve the win.
Smith hurled his body, all 6-2 and 208 pounds, into the 6-4, 245-pound Relf and took the feet out from under the much larger player, stopping him in his tracks and the game clock reached 0:00.
"Ryan has really come on this year and shows he wants to play," Bates says about the sophomore who was almost dismissed from the team at one point. "He is very aggressive and a hard hitter. He's shown that in practice."
Bates was headed in Relf's direction, but admitted he wouldn't have made it in time to keep the quarterback out of the end zone and likely send the game to overtime had Mississippi State not opted to go for a two-point conversion and the win.
"There was no doubt," Bates said. "He didn't make it to the end zone. I could see that clearly. We had watched a lot of film and knew who would keep it in the red zone. Everybody played their part and Ryan Smith made an outstanding play."
Bates was productive with a team-high 12 tackles--four solo stops and eight assists to set a career high for tackles in a game.
"We just need to keep improving and getting better," the junior said. "We know we are everyone's target and that's going to be the case at Clemson this week. We can't back down."
In other news and notes:
*Michael Dyer's 150 yards rushing and Emory Blake's 108 receiving yards mark the first time since the 2010 Kentucky game that Auburn has had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game. It last happened when Cam Newton rushed for 198 yards and Darvin Adams finished with 101 receiving yards.
*Tre Mason recorded 172 yards in kickoff returns, marking straight week in the true freshman's two-game career that he has gone over 100 yards. Rather than kick deep to Mason in the third quarter, the Bulldogs kicked short with another true freshman, Brandon Fulse, fielding the ball at the Tigers' 29 and returning seven yards to the 36 to put the Tigers in good field position.
*Defensive back Demetruce McNeal's 44-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter was his first career interception. The last Tiger to return an interception for a touchdown was defensive back T'Sharvan Bell against South Carolina in the 2010 SEC Championship Game.
*The Tigers have won seven straight games against teams ranked in the AP poll and have won 67 games in row when scoring 40 or more points.
*Auburn is 13-3 under Gene Chizik when scoring first. The Tigers have scored 40 or more points in five of their last 10 games against SEC opponents and have 30 or more points in seven of those 10 games.
*Defensive back Ryan White made his first career start for the Tigers while offensive tackle A.J. Greene started his first game since the 2010 Clemson game when he injured his ankle and missed the rest of the season.