As Coach Tommy Tuberville begins his ninth season at Auburn and his 13th season in the Southeastern Conference, it's interesting to see where Auburn has been over the last 25 years. Here is a brief history lesson broken down by five-year intervals.
The season got off to a shaky start as Auburn was 4-3 though seven games. The most glaring problem was the quarterback situation involving Daniel Cobb and Jason Campbell. After seven games Cobb had compiled a quarterback rating of 126.9 including only five touchdown passes and four interceptions. Campbell was named the starter for the LSU game, a 31-7 Auburn victory, and would remain the starter for the remainder of his career at Auburn.
Auburn completed the season by winning five of its last six games with the loss coming against a 13-1 Georgia Bulldog team that needed a fourth down miracle pass to defeat Auburn, 24-21. The 2002 Auburn Tigers had one of the strongest finishes in school history, considering they were 5-1 against the toughest part of the schedule. During the first seven games Auburn went 3-3 against Division I opponents with a combined win percentage of .493. The Tigers closed out the season against opponents with a combined winning percentage of .641.
Campbell posted a 139.8 quarterback rating during the last six games by completing 59 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and only four interceptions. Despite competing against four opponents ranked in the top 10, Auburn scored 22 touchdowns in the last six games of the season while surrendering only 10. Even with the loss of Carnell Williams who was injured for the season in game seven at Florida, the Auburn Tigers averaged more than 200 yards rushing per game.
The backfield duo of Ronnie Brown and Jason Campbell excelled in coordinator Bobby Petrino's offense in the second half of 2002.
Ohio State defeated the University of Miami to finish No. 1 in the nation and Georgia won the SEC title. Quarterback Carson Palmer from Southern California won the 68th annual Heisman Trophy. Auburn began the season unranked, finishing at No. 14 in the Associated Press Poll. Georgia had a final ranking of No. 3.
The Auburn Tigers made their first appearance in the SEC Championship game, losing by one point to the Peyton Manning led Tennessee Volunteers. Highlights of the season included road victories over 10th-ranked LSU and seventh-ranked Georgia. The season nearly collapsed with an embarrassing 20-0 loss to Mississippi State at home. It was the first time Auburn had been shutout in Jordan-Hare Stadium since the 42-0 loss to Tennessee in 1980.
Auburn won 10 of its 13 games behind the big-play ability of Dameyune Craig and a defense that specialized in creating turnovers. Auburn competed against a brutal schedule that year, facing nine opponents with a winning record including four ranked in the top 10. Craig became to first and only Auburn quarterback to surpass the 3000-yard barrier in passing.
Coach Bill Oliver's defense lived on the edge with a bend but don't break mentality. Though there were times Auburn could not stop the opponent from moving the ball, the Tiger defense made up for it with 27 forced turnovers. Many of those turnovers came during critical moments of the game. Wide receiver Karsten Bailey hauled in 840 yards and seven touchdowns and Tyrone Goodson racked up 906 yards and five touchdowns receiving.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers won a split of their third national championship in four years with a convincing bowl victory over SEC Champion Tennessee. Led by cornerback and Heisman winner Charles Woodson, Michigan also won a share of the title with a victory over Washington State in the Rose Bowl. Manning was the runner up in the Heisman voting and Tim Couch of Kentucky finished ninth. Auburn began the season ranked No. 16 in the country and finished at No. 11 in the final Associated Press Poll. Florida (4), Tennessee (7) and Georgia (10) finished the season ranked in the top 10.
After nine consecutive winning seasons Pat Dye's Auburn Tigers had their first losing season in 1991. The 1992 season was off to a dismal start with a 45-21 loss to Ole Miss. It almost appeared that Auburn had turned things around with four consecutive victories, raising the Tigers' record to 4-1 heading into Starkville. Auburn's offensive struggles continued as the Tigers went on to win only one time in their remaining six games.
The 1992 Tigers were 1-5 against opponents with a winning record, being held to only 93 yards per game on the ground. With the running game struggling, the passing game totaled just three touchdown passes against Auburn's six toughest opponents compared to 12 interceptions. The defense held its own for the most part allowing only 257.9 yards per game. Auburn's biggest victory of the year came in a 30-28 decision over LSU.
It was a disappointing season on so many levels. Off the field Auburn fell under the dark cloud of a NCAA investigation that would result in sanctions and Dye's retirement. On the field the Tigers played well enough to beat Mississippi State, Arkansas and Georgia but the ball did not bounce their way. James Bostic did not become the full-time starter at running back until the Vanderbilt game. He finished the season with 742 yards rushing in his last seven games.
The Alabama Crimson Tide destroyed Miami in the Sugar Bowl finishing the season as the consensus No. 1 team in the country. Alabama's defense was clearly the best in the country in 1992, which paved the way to an SEC Championship with a 28-21 victory over Florida. Miami quarterback Gino Torretta won the 58th annual Heisman Trophy. Garrison Hearst (3) of Georgia and Eric Curry (10) of Alabama finished in the top 10 of the Heisman voting. Auburn started the season unranked and would finish the same. Georgia (8) and Florida (10) also finished the season ranked in the top 10.
Pat Dye's seventh edition of the Auburn Tigers netted his second SEC title and would be the first of three in a row. Led by senior quarterback Jeff Burger and a strong defense, Auburn went 9-1-2 in 1987. The Tigers intercepted 22 passes and gave up only four touchdown passes. Burger completed 67 percent of his throws, connecting on at least two touchdowns on five occasions. Coach Wayne Hall's defense was astounding with 39 forced turnovers and 34 sacks.
Highlights of the season included victories over Texas, Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The season low was the 34-6 loss to Florida State. Auburn committed six turnovers against the Seminoles with FSU converting them into 17 points. Auburn dashed the hopes of Syracuse fans in the Sugar Bowl with a 16-16 tie against the previously undefeated and untied Orangemen. After back-to-back years of fielding an All-American at running back, Auburn used a running game by committee in 1987. A young Stacey Danley would eventually separate himself from the other backs late in the year.
Danley finished the last four games of the regular season with 397 yards, averaging more than five yards per carry. This included a 157-yard performance against 18th ranked Alabama. All four starting linebackers had more than 80 tackles on the season led by Kurt Crains' 168 tackles during the regular season. Aundray Bruce had perhaps the best day of any Auburn defender when he registered three interceptions, caused a fumble, recovered a fumble and made three sacks against Georgia Tech. He also returned one of his picks for a touchdown.
The Miami Hurricanes were voted No. 1 at the end of the season and the Auburn Tigers won the Southeastern Conference title. Tim Brown of Notre Dame won the 53rd annual Heisman Trophy with Emmitt Smith of Florida and Bobby Humphrey of Alabama finishing in the top 10 of the voting. Auburn began the season ranked No. 5 in the country and finished at No. 7 by the Associated Press. LSU, fifth, was the only other SEC team ranked in the top 10 at the end of the year.
Bo Jackson played a large part in the power shift in the in-state rivalry while Tommy Tuberville is taking Auburn's dominance over the Tide to extremes with five consecutive Iron Bowl victories.
After suffering through growing pains during Dye's inaugural season, the Tigers put it all together in 1982. Auburn finished the regular season at 8-3 but could have been 10-1 with a few breaks. Auburn's wishbone offense averaged 249 yards rushing per game, aiding a defense that struggled at times keeping its opponents off the field. Bo Jackson and Lionel James combined for nine 100-yard games and Randy Campbell directed an offense that committed only five turnovers all year.
Highlights of the season included victories over Tennessee, Alabama and Boston College. The victory over Alabama will always remain in the hearts of Auburn fans as it ended a nine-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide. Jackson over the top symbolized that Alabama was no longer a dominant team in the state and the Iron Bowl was won with one of the best players in the country. The 1982 team started an eight-year run in which Auburn posted the third highest win percentage in the nation while capturing four conference titles. Auburn would become known for it's physical play on offense and its tenacity on defense.
Two of Auburn's three losses came to opponents that finished ranked in the top five--Nebraska and Georgia. The Nebraska game proved Auburn was still not ready to play with the nation's elite, but late in the year the Tigers gave No. 4 Georgia all it could handle. Auburn outgained Georgia in total yardage, 350 to 288, but fell 19-14 late in the game. Auburn finished the season with a 33-26 victory over Boston College in the Tangerine Bowl. It was Auburn's first appearance in a bowl game since 1974.
Penn State defeated Georgia to finish the season No. 1 in the country. Georgia won its third consecutive SEC title with Herschel Walker winning the 48th annual Heisman Trophy. Auburn began the season unranked but finished at No. 14 in the Associated Press. Behind Georgia, LSU (11) was the next highest ranked SEC team followed by Auburn.