Aug. 26, 2008
Coach Tuberville's Top 10: Number 4
This summer, Auburn fans had the opportunity to vote on the Top 10 games during the Tommy Tuberville Era. Fans had 25 games to choose from during the month-long voting. Now, AuburnTigers.com will unveil how fans voted, with game recaps and video highlights daily Monday through Friday for the next two weeks, counting down from No. 10 to No. 1.....So sit back, relax and enjoy....Here's No. 4...
Oct. 14, 2006 - Auburn 27, Florida 17
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.
Tre Smith returned a third quarter blocked punt for a touchdown and Auburn's defense forced three turnovers and did not allow a point in the second half as the 11th-ranked Tigers scored the game's last 19 points to upset No. 2 Florida, 27-17, at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The 27-17 victory over Florida marked the first time since a 9-0 victory over Alabama on Nov. 18, 2000, that the Tigers defeated their opponent without scoring an offensive touchdown. The win stretched Auburn's all-time series record against Florida to 41-38-2 and pushed its home field record to 25-8-1 against the Gators. It also marked the second-highest nationally-ranked team that the Tigers had knocked off since a 23-20 victory over top-ranked Florida in 2001.
After first-half struggles to maintain Florida's explosive offense, Auburn's special teams unit came up big and ignited a comeback for the record books.
Opening the second half with a 17-11 lead, the Gators' were forced to punt on fourth-and-18. Florida's Eric Wilbur could not handle the snap and had his punt blocked by Jerraud Powers at Florida's 15-yard line.
Smith scooped up the block and returned it 15 yards for the touchdown to give Auburn an 18-17 lead.
Auburn added to its lead with just 32 seconds left in the game on a 39-yard field goal from John Vaughn to go up 21-17.
On the ensuing possession, Florida quarterback Chris Leak threw three incomplete passes and faced a fourth-and-10. Although he connected with Jarred Fayson, the Gator receiver fumbled the ball and Auburn's Patrick Lee recovered it and dashed 20 yards into the end zone as time expired to give the Tigers' the 27-17 victory.
The Auburn defense picked up where the special teams left off at the start of the second half. After giving up 17 points through two quarters on 18 plays to the Gators, the Tiger defense tightened in the second half and denied Florida on the scoreboard. The Gators were limited to 85 offensive yards in the second half, including 31 on the ground.
Quentin Groves paced Auburn's stout defense, finishing with three sacks, all in the second half. He also forced a fumble on Auburn's 6-yard line in the fourth quarter, which Tray Blackmon recovered and returned to the Tigers' 38.
Groves was also instrumental with less than three minutes in the game, pressuring Leak. Eric Brock stepped in front of Leak's pass for his first interception of the season, which effectively killed the Gators'
attempt to overcome the 18-17 deficit.
The Tigers began the game's scoring on a 22-yard field goal with nine minutes remaining in the first quarter. Florida, however, matched that five minutes later when Chris Hetland connected from 22 yards out.
Dallas Baker made it 10-3 in favor of Florida a minute into the second quarter, catching a 15-yard touchdown pass from Leak.
With Florida pinned inside its five four minutes later, the Tiger defense used a little luck to make it 10-5. The Gators were guilty of a holding penalty in the end zone, giving Auburn a team safety.
Six minutes later, Vaughn kicked his second field goal of the game, a 31-yarder, to bring Auburn to within two, 10-8.
The Gators scored their final points of the game at the 4:10 mark of the second quarter on a Tim Tebow quarterback run from 16 yards out.
With 30 seconds remaining in the first half, Vaughn connected on his third field goal from 34 yards out.
Brandon Cox finished 18-of-27 passing for 182 yards and Brad Lester led the rushing attack with a career-high 94 yards on 17 carries.
Tuberville's thoughts looking back...
"Ironically, that (first half) was probably the worst half of defense we have played since I have been here. We couldn't tackle Chris Leak; we didn't defend anybody. Fortunately, offensively we were able to make some first downs and make them go long distances when they did score points. That game could have gotten out of hand very quickly and they were a very good football team. Obviously, they won the national championship. We held our composure, and we didn't crumble in the first half, which would have been easy to do with the amount of talent they had.
"We went into the locker room at the half and got them all settled down. We made our adjustments, what we wanted to do, what angle we wanted to take. We knew we had to do something on offense to give ourselves a chance. We knew we needed a big play on special teams.
Basically, I challenged [the team]: we can go out and lose by 50 points or, no matter what the score looks like, we can get back in the game. Of course, the game-changing play of the year was Tre Smith picking up the ball for the touchdown off of Jerraud Powers' punt block.
"That was a great game because there was a lot of big plays and, unfortunately, most of the big plays were on their side. We didn't have much to celebrate until that blocked punt, and winning that kind of game doesn't happen very often. We beat the team that would eventually win the national championship. They don't lose to anybody else, and we don't score an offensive point, that is hard to do. We saw how things were going on defense, so, I told the team that we are going to run the clock on offense. We couldn't get the ball down the field, we couldn't protect, but we could run the ball a little bit. Every first down for us was like scoring points. We won that game by heart. It was all heart, all character, and our players overcame our coaching."