It’s hard to conceive now – Auburn NOT catching the breaks against Mississippi State. In 2010, Relf and company stalled just out of field goal range and lost 14-17 against Cam Newton and the eventual National Champions. In 2011, Relf came up a yard shy of the endzone on the final play of the game in a 34-41 loss. Last year, Auburn drove 88 yards in the final two minutes and scored the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left.
But seven years ago, we caught some breaks. And some interceptions.
MSU played six teams ranked in the top-25 in 2007, and only held six home games. If State wanted to get to a bowl game, there was no room for error. After a season-opening 45-0 shutout to #2 LSU where the Tigers recorded six interceptions, State trounced Tulane, setting up a trip to Auburn. With 5 ranked opponents left on the schedule (3 away from home), this was a must-win to get to a bowl.
State dominated the early period thanks to two interceptions and the running of Anthony Dixon and Christian Ducre. Derek Pegues’s shoestring pick-6 highlighted the period, and early in the 2nd quarter, State held a 13-0 lead and had knocked out starting QB Brandon Cox.
But the option game with backup QB Kodi Burns and running back Ben Tate was something State hadn’t prepared for, and after Pegues fumbled a kickoff, Auburn easily scored their second touchdown in five minutes and took a 14-13 lead into halftime.
The third quarter was extremely run-heavy on both sides, with Auburn racking up serious yards but unable to score.
Demario Bobo’s interception of Burns early in the fourth quarter ignited the Bulldogs, and Dixon and Ducre were featured in a 10-play, all-run, 44 yard drive culminating in the go-ahead points. State held a 19-14 lead with 5:27 left.
For Auburn's final gasp, Tubberville re-inserted starting QB Brandon Cox, who earlier left to emphatic boo’s after throwing two interceptions on his first two drives. Cox looked better this time around and quickly moved the Tigers 65 yards. Auburn faced a first-and-goal from the 9 yardline with plenty of time remaining.
I was sure we’d see Burns back in to run the option with Ben Tate. Auburn had rushed 43 times for 186 yards, with Burns averaging 4 yards per carry, and Tate averaging 6.
But Cox stayed in and threw 4 straight passes, gaining zero yards. The final pass fell incomplete with 48 seconds left and State ran out the clock.
The 19-14 win gave State confidence with the game on the line, and we went on to squeak out wins against Alabama (17-12) and mississippi (17-14), en route to the Liberty Bowl, where we pulled out another late-game victory against UCF (10-3).