Bulldogs Often a Play Away Against Tigers

In the past four years, Mississippi State has gone to four straight bowl games including two on New Year's Day. Auburn has enjoyed the post season three times in those four years, but two of those bowl trips included a chance to play for the BCS National Title. Despite looking up at Auburn in the SEC West standings for three of the past four years, on the field the Bulldogs have been much closer.

Yes, the Tigers from the land grant school to the east have been popular foils for the Bulldogs the past few seasons.

Lost in the all of the talk of Egg Bowls and Iron Bowls is the fact that Auburn and Mississippi State have played some of the better contests on the conference calendar in the past few years.

2010: Auburn 17 Mississippi State 14

Cam Newton made a Thursday night visit to Starkville in an important contest for both teams. Less than a year earlier, Newton himself was among the Bulldog crowd, cowbell and all cheering Dan Mullen's Bulldogs to a win over arch-rival Ole Miss in the Battle for the Golden Egg.

This time, the Bulldogs had no plans on being hospitable to the future Heisman winner.

A tight contest throughout, the game came down to the final minutes.

Fletcher Cox blocked a Wes Byrum field goal to give Mississippi State a chance to tie or potentially win the game in the final minutes.

A pass play to Bulldog wide out Arceto Clark right in front of the Auburn bench had the Bulldogs in business, but a trio of incompletions had State facing a 4th and 10 just over midfield.

Montgomery, Alabama native Chris Relf delivered a pass to wide receiver Leon Berry that would have given the Bulldogs a chance at a game tying field goal.

The certain first down gaining pass bounced off of Berry's hands and onto the Scott Field turf.

ESPN's parting shot of the broadcast showed an inconsolable Berry crying on the shoulder of then Bulldogs' receiver coach Mark Hudspeth.

Hudspeth would later describe that moment as one of the most difficult in his coaching career.

The Tigers would go on to win the National Championship and Newton would ride off in the NFL sunset with the Heisman trophy in tow.

2011: Auburn 41 Mississippi State 34

The Tigers roared out to a 14-0 lead only to see Mississippi State score 21 unanswered in a see saw battle that saw very few defensive stops.

The game saw several swings in momentum and it looked like the team with the ball last would win the game.

The team with the ball and the "mojo" in the final minute was Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs had the Tigers huddling in the shadows of their own goalposts as State had a 1st and goal at the Auburn two yard line with just :18 seconds left.

A Vick Ballard rush inside was stopped short of the Auburn goal line. A timeout with :10 left set up a do die play on 2nd down.

With no timeouts left, Chris Relf appeared to have found a crease in the Tiger front only to see Ryan Smith fit the gap dropping Relf painfully short of the endzone.

The final seconds ticked away as Mullen and the Bulldogs were powerless to stop it's descent to double zeroes.

2012: Mississippi State 28 Auburn 10

Much of the talk leading up the game was about Dan Mullen's record against the SEC Western division squads not named Ole Miss.

On this day, defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and quarterback Tyler Russell added a win over Auburn to the Mullen resume.

The Bulldog defense did not allow a touchdown. Auburn's lone six pointer of the day came on a 100 yard Onterio McCalebb.

The Tigers were unable to mount much of an offensive that day as future NFLers Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay led the Bulldog secondary.

Tyler Russell would throw three touchdowns as State would finally break through against the Tigers for the first time under Mullen.

State would go on to it's second Gator Bowl in three years.

Gene Chizik, two years removed from a national title, would be fired at year's end after posting a 3-9 mark and going winless in the SEC.

2013: Auburn 24 Mississippi State 20

The trip to the Plains would be the site of Dak Prescott's first SEC start under center.

The Tigers got the better of the Bulldogs in the early going, darting out to an 11-0 lead to the delight of the Jordan-Hare crowd.

Prescott and the Bulldogs would settle down and rally taking a 20-14 lead.

Geoff Collins' defense again proved to be a tough riddle for the Auburn running game that was limited to a season low 120 yards on the ground.

Auburn running back Tre Mason, a Heisman finalist, was held to just 34 yards rushing.

Late in the game, it was clear that Dan Mullen was playing to win.

With just 6:10 remaining the Bulldogs clung to a 20-17 advantage and faced a 4th and one from their own 29.

Mullen rolled the dice and put the ball in the hands of Prescott who plunged ahead for the first down.

The drive eventually stalled forcing a Bulldog punt with just under two minutes left.

With two timeouts at his disposal, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall led a drive deep into Bulldog territory. Needing a touchdown for the win, the Tigers elected to take a shot at the endzone before settling for a potential game tying field goal attempt.

Marshall found tight end C.J. Uzmoah in the back corner of the endzone with just :10 left for the game winning score and the Tigers' 2013 charmed life began.

The Tigers would go on to a 11-1 regular season, an SEC title and a berth in the BCS national title game against Florida State.

2014: The biggest one yet?

The Tigers come to Starkville to face a Mississippi State team beaming with confidence. The Bulldogs have knocked off back to back top ten teams in impressive fashion.

The challenges and stakes both seem to increase each and every week.

The winner of this weekend's match-up could easily be ranked #1 when the Associated Press poll is released on Sunday.

ESPN's College Gameday will be in Starkville for the first time ever.

This is #2 vs. #3 in perhaps the biggest game in the early going in the SEC's Western Division.

Of course Auburn will always want to beat Alabama and Mississippi State feels the same way about Ole Miss, but the winner of this weekend's contest can play for a lot bigger prize than just in state bragging rights come the first Saturday in December.

These are the Saturdays that Champions are made.

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