September 29, 2007: Auburn 17, Florida 14
(photo courtesy BRIAN CASSELLA | Gainesville Times)
Don’t you think Urban Meyer wishes he had a little of Phil Fulmer’s 2007 mojo? I mean, Tennessee wins three games last year because its opponents’ kickers missed field goals to tie or win; meanwhile, Ol’ Urban gets to the end of a game, puts his arm around the ref, whispers sweet nothings in his ear, calls (and gets) a time out at the very last moment timed to disrupt the kicker… and watches a freshman calmly put two through the uprights on the road to put a dagger in the Gators’ hearts.
Call it the “it couldn’t happen to a better person” game.
Say what you will, over the years Tommy Tuberville has been a pretty good big game coach. Even though Meyer got most of the attention from this game for his ultimately futile maneuvering at its end, he was shown up by Tubby with regard to coming up with an effective game plan.
Auburn staggered into this game against the #4 Gators with a 2-2 record, having lost home matches to South Florida and Mississippi State (and looking pretty shaky in its home opener with Kansas State, for that matter). Yet the Tigers managed to pull out the win, weathering a typical game from Superman (201 yards passing on 20-27 throwing and leading UF in rushing with 76 yards and a TD) and despite only managing to average 2.3 yards per rushing attempt.
Some of the important keys for the Tigers were avoiding turnover meltdowns (the Tigers were +1 against UF; in their first three games they were an incredible -10) and controlling the clock (Auburn had the ball almost 33 minutes). It was also noteworthy that Brandon Cox was an efficient 17-26 with no interceptions.
But the biggest key of all was limiting Florida to a mere 56 plays on offense. As Sunday Morning Quarterback pointed out, Florida averaged a yard more per play in this game than it did in the rout of Ohio State that garnered the Gators their second MNC. Florida lost because Tebow and Company couldn’t get their hands on the ball enough.
Al Borges was canned after the year, but this game was his masterpiece. Auburn didn’t do anything particularly dramatic on offense. It was just relentlessly efficient. The final drive was a perfect example of that: 11 plays, 35 yards, 3:34 off the clock (and that with five timeouts on the drive).
17 points would be Florida’s worst offensive showing of the year, as the Gators were not held under 20 points by any other opponent.