A Lifetime of Mississippi State vs. Auburn

Butch Dill

The MSU/Auburn rivalry has always been significant to me, and I'd like to share some of my experiences

For me personally, there is no series MSU has played in that I've attended more games than Auburn. I'm not 100% sure of the official count, but I know I've been to at least 14 games (10 of them at Jordan-Hare).

Why have I been to so many, and especially on the Plains? Well, my mother went to Auburn and always had season tickets since my grandfather had been faculty. So every year I'd end up going to a couple of games. I enjoyed them, and to be honest I was equally a Mississippi State and Auburn fan growing up (my dad went to State). So naturally, this was sort of a family rivalry. It was always friendly until my brothers and I went to college. I went to MSU, and both of my younger brothers to Auburn (I married a State girl so it evens the family balance). Then pour on Cam Newton, and there's not much friendly left in this annual affair.

If I may, here are some of my experiences regarding MSU/Auburn football games...

1991 - this is the first football game I can remember attending. I was seven years old. I still remember it being 10-0 at halftime, and MSU winning 24-17. I don't remember anything I saw, but I remember sitting in the bleachers at Jordan-Hare and watching the referee run around.

1997 - for this game I was able to understand what was going on a little more. It was a gloomy day and Auburn was expected to win, as they were #11 in the country. But State dominated, winning 20-0. I remember my dad ragging my mom about this one on the way home. MSU vaulted to #17 in the polls following the game.

1999- a great memory. My dad and I went down to Florida that weekend to put the finishing touches on a metal building we built that summer. It was way out in the country and we could barely pick up a radio signal, but we listened closely to the incredible Game 3 of the NLDS Braves vs. Astros that Friday night. The next day we headed to Auburn where Tiger fans were licking their wounds during Tubberville's first year and MSU was undefeated. Once Auburn was up 16-3 late in the 4th all their fans started pouring out of the stadium. We stayed, and it was an incredible comeback. Of course, we were sitting in the seats of my mom's season tickets so there were no State fans around to celebrate with, so we went over to the MSU section and joined the fun there with the Famous Maroon Band. That was probably when my heart turned a shade of maroon.

2000 - I watched this game from the couch. I had a chance to go, but had somehow become old enough to work, and couldn't get out of it. It was the second straight week State had been on CBS (can you believe that?), and the second straight week beating a ranked opponent as Aubie was #15.

2001 - despite losing to South Carolina and getting their doors blown off by Florida, I went to this game expecting State to pull it out - after all they had won the last four vs. Auburn. But it didn't happen as the Tigers ended up taking it on a Damon Duval field goal with :18 left.

2002 - this was my freshman year at State. It was a Thursday night game and my family made the trip to Starkville to be at the game. I remember sitting in the bleachers of the north endzone watching us getting absolutely run over 42-14. That's when I knew...it may be a while before we are good again.

2003 - went to Auburn with some friends. Had fun around town, not so much at the game.

2004 - I've got a nice picture of me and my friends after the game, and we've all got brutal sun burns. Thank you, September Jefferson Pilot games.

2005 - I thought I was going to miss this one, but around 10 pm Friday my buddy and me decided to drive from Starkville to Auburn. I'm not sure how we did it, but we found a floor to sleep on at a friend of a friend of a friend's frat house and went to the game the next day. Another terrible game - the fourth consecutive 4-touchdown loss in the series.

2006 - yet another bad loss, but this one is memorable because my folks came over and met my wife's (fiance at the time) folks for the first time.

2007 - I had no idea what we were in for at this game. We picked up my brother-in-law and his girlfriend, met my family in Auburn, and just expected to enjoy the tailgate because there wasn't much to expect on the field. But we went to the game then lo and behold MSU somehow wins it!? 19-14, I couldn't believe we won the game - not after 5 straight years of blowouts and seemingly nothing had changed based on the first two games of the year. This was my brother's freshman year at Auburn, so I obviously thought it was just the curse of this rivalry and State would go on to win as long as he was in school there.

2008 - curse ended as it were. And I was one of the unlucky folks who paid good money to see it: 3-2 Tigers.

2009 - I went, but it wasn't that exciting.

2010 - this was the first game in this series I had missed in 10 years. But it was on a Thursday night and I couldn't make it from Georgia. So, I watched on TV. I always took my dog at the time out for a walk around 9 PM. Well, since this game was on I waited until halftime for the walk. As we are finishing our lap around the block, I see a man standing in the middle of the road with his dog who is sitting. I thought it was strange. Of course, my dog was a 100 pound alpha male and barked at any and all dogs until he gets to sniff them - most folks are okay with letting them sniff each other. As I approach I notice this guy has an Auburn visor and shirt on. I don't know if it was my MSU shirt or if he was just pissed off or what, but he tries to kick my barking dog as we approached. I immediately pull back the leash and ask what his problem is. A few minutes later we are finishing up a yelling match I'm sure the neighbors were happy to hear. I was fuming and I can only barely remember the 2nd half, which may be a good thing.

2011 - I was there. I saw the eagle fly over my head and run into the sky box. I saw Chris Relf come up inches short. I have never left a game feeling so sick to my stomach. I saw Vick Ballard's parents walking out - if only we would've pitched it to him. My youngest brother was now in college at Auburn and we went to his fraternity house to eat dinner after the game. I could barely eat, it was devastating.

2012 - I stayed at home for this one. We invited my brother and his Auburn girlfriend to watch it at my house. They had no idea what was coming. Ha, it wasn't even close. The look on their faces to lose to poor ole Mississippi State.

Looking forward to another great game this year!

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