Tigers begin and end with Damon Duval

Auburn kicker Damon Duval is special; just ask Florida, Mississippi State, and Vandy.

Not only does he have the second best net punting average in the country, but he is also responsible for three of Auburn's six victories. Never in recent memory has a kicker been as important to a team as Duval is to the Auburn Tigers. 

Duval, a junior from Chattanooga, is the best player at his position for the Tigers, and perhaps the best in the conference. The reason why Duval is so dangerous is the fact that he cannot be defended in a conventional manner. And even if you can "defend" Duval his team still wins. 

Kickers and punters have to be blocked, which is a difficult thing to do. The last time that Auburn had a punt blocked was in 2000, when Georgia did it twice. The Tigers still won the game. Auburn has had only one kick blocked this season, that one coming against Ball State in their opening game. The Tigers won that game too. 

Duval has been extraordinarily good in pressure as of late. His foot has clamed three victories for the Tigers, all coming against SEC foes. 

With 2:58 left to play in the game against Vandy, Auburn was tied at 21 with the Commodores. Duval was called in to win the game for Auburn, and he did just that. Duval drilled a 49-yard field goal to give the Tigers the 24-21 win. 

The next week, Duval was called on to beat Mississippi State on the road. But this time, Duval had the pressure of knowing that his team was going to lose if he did not make the kick. With 18 seconds left, Duval drilled a 47-yards field goal. The win vaulted the Tigers to the top of the SEC West, where they remain today. 

Duval's winner against Mississippi State was Auburn's first come-from-behind game-winning field goal since Jaret Holmes' 39-yarder in an 18-17 victory over Alabama in 1997. Holmes' kick with 15 seconds left gave the Tigers their first trip to the SEC Championship Game.

Then number one ranked Florida came calling and Duval did them in too. The Gators played a sloppy game at best. The poor play by the reptiles gave Auburn a chance to win at the end after Rex Grossman threw his 4th interception of the game. With 10 seconds remaining in the game, Duval nailed a 44-yard field goal. 

If you still don't think that Duval is the best player on Auburn's team consider this. Auburn has outscored their opponents 199 to 190. Exactly nine points; all of them as a result of Duval's three clutch kicks. . 

The point is don't let the game be close enough for Duval to make a difference. Only Arkansas and Syracuse have done that against Auburn. And only Arkansas and Syracuse have beaten Auburn.

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