He got to prove that not once, but twice, as his 43-yard field goal at the buzzer lifted the Tigers to a thrilling 20-17 victory over the No. 3 and No. 4 ranked Florida Gators.
With thousands of fans taunting him on the sidelines as Auburn moved the football into position for the winning field goal, the freshman from St. Thomas Aquinas High School joked that he kind of enjoyed all of the attention, even the expletives that filled the area with Gator fans breathing down his neck at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, known for its tight sidelines.
"I never doubted he was going to make it either time," said junior defensive tackle Pat Sims, who like Byrum is from Fort Lauderdale. "I knew my Lauderdale guy would come through in the clutch," Sims said. "He does it all of the time in practice."
Sims added, "It feels great to beat the Gators, especially with how hard we played. We deserved to win this game."
Tommy Tuberville said it was a total team victory with all phases contributing for his now 3-2 Tigers against the Gators, who had come in with a 4-0 record as a nearly three-touchdown favorite looking to avenge their only loss from last year's national championship season.
"It was two good football teams playing and we finally found out we were pretty good," Tuberville said. "I appreciate all of our players for how they played. They laid it on the line. This is one of, if not the toughest place, to play for us on the road. I thought we kept our concentration and we didn't lose sight of what we were trying to do."
Tuberville praised coordinators Al Borges and Will Muschamp after the game as well as senior Brandon Cox, who looked like his old self by hitting 17-26 passes for 227 yards and no interceptions.
On a fourth and one, the Gators were penalized five yards for running into punter Ryan Shoemaker keeping the Auburn possession alive.
On the 14th play of the possession, a first and goal from the six, Kodi Burns got the call from the QB spot. Lining up in the shotgun formation, he ran through the middle of the defense for a touchdown with 6:16 left in the first quarter. The PAT kick by Wes Byrum put the Tigers on top 7-0.
The Tigers put together another long scoring drive to take a 14-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. This one covered 80 yards in 10 plays.
The most dramatic was a fourth and long one play just inside the Gator five-yard line. Tate ran the ball at right guard behind freshman Chaz Ramsey and just barely had enough yardage as the measurement showed first down Tigers.
On the next play, running at left guard behind Tyronne Green, Tate pushed his way to the goal line and extended the football into the end zone for a score putting the Tigers on top 14-0 Byrum's PAT. Once again on the drive, Cox was on target with his passing as the Tigers had success both running and throwing the football.
Cox was 3-4 passing on the drive, completing passes for seven to Gabe McKenzie, 22 to Carl Stewart and 25 ti Montez Billings to move the ball deep to Gator territory where the running attack was able to push it in the end zone.
Auburn got the ball to start the third quarter and immediately started in a big hole at the eight after a penalty on a return by Tristan Davis.
The Tigers had a three and out and Florida then put the pressure on with a ?? 52-yard bomb to ??? to the Tiger three. However, the defense made a stand and forced a field goal, cutting the lead to 14-3 with 11:58 left in the third quarter.
Davis was injured on the next kickoff as the Tigers started from their own 30 and again went three and out. However, a 54-yard Shoemaker punt backed up the Gators to their 24. Tebow then went after Pat Lee on another bomb, but this time he was off target and Lee intercepted the ball at the AU 34.
From that point the Tigers drove the ball to a first and goal, but this time the Gators made the defensive stand and the Tigers settled for a 30-yard Byrum field goal with 6:39 left in the third quarter.
An Auburn turnover set up the Gators for a 38-yard third quarter touchdown drive. Tate found a big hole up the middle, but lost fumbled the ball with 4:10 left in the third period.
With the momentum fully turned to the home team with 90,685 fans going crazy, the Gators tied the game at 17-17 on a two-yard Tebow keeper to cap an eight-play, 89-yard drive.
The Tigers got the ball back, but could only manage a first down before punting. Florida took over at its 42, but the Auburn defense rose to the occasion.
"We knew we had to stop them there to win the game and that is what we did," said sophomore defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. "I had faith in the offense if we gave them one more chance we would score and we would win the game."
The offense got that chance with 3:38 and the ball at their own 39 after a 25-yard punt that backed on the Gators.
Auburn kept the ball for 10 plays, the final which was a do-over with Byrum kicking his second straight 43-yarder to win the game as the Tigers became the first team to beat Coach Urban Meyer in Gainesville since he took over in 2005.
Auburn returns to action next week with an 11:30 a.m. home game vs. Vanderiblt.