AUBURN, Ala. – There was Arkansas 38, Auburn 14. Then LSU 45, Auburn 10, and Georgia 45, Auburn 7, and then Alabama 42, Auburn 14 to follow.
Four embarrassing blowouts against primary rivals and SEC West neighbors.
That was last year. In a year that concluded with eight wins, including an easy victory in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl over Virginia.
A year that included getting crushed by four division foes – including the Tigers’ axis of evil in Alabama, Georgia and LSU – was a pleasure cruise compared to what has become one of the most ignominious years in program history.
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It started with Mississippi State 28, Auburn 10.
Then continued with Arkansas 24, Auburn 7.
Then compounded by Ole Miss 41, Auburn 20.
At least none of those games were in the national spotlight. It got worse.
Texas A&M 63, Auburn 21.
And now, on Saturday, Georgia 38, Auburn 0.
The final count – at least for another two weeks, before a certain ticked-off in-state rival plays host to the Tigers (2-8, 0-7 SEC) – is nine abject calamities against SEC West foes, all losses of 17 points or more.
Nine disasters in the past 401 days. Nine disasters since the Tigers raised the crystal football in the Arizona desert and brought home their second national championship.
Nine disasters since – and this is critical – the NFL lockout of 2011, when Auburn alum and 10-year NFL veteran Heath Evans worked out with the Tigers. Evans went on ESPN Radio in Birmingham Friday morning and shared a multitude of shocking revelations from “a scary offseason”, poisoning his perception of the Auburn football program’s structure, accountability and overall trust between coaches and players.
Draw your own conclusions from that.
Goose egg: Auburn was shut out for the first time since Alabama’s 36-0 victory on Nov. 29, 2008 in Tuscaloosa. Gene Chizik’s predecessor, Tommy Tuberville, resigned four days later.
This was the Tigers’ first no-pointer at Jordan-Hare Stadium since 2003, a 23-0 loss to USC in the season opener.
This was the Tigers' worst loss since a 42-0 defeat to Tennessee in 1980.
Murray magnificent: Junior quarterback Aaron Murray probably wishes he could play Auburn every game.
Completing 18-of-24 passes for 208 yards, Murray’s three first-half touchdown passes gave him 10 in three career games against the Tigers.
Murray’s final crack at Auburn, presumably, will be Nov. 16, 2013, back here at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Due to an SEC scheduling quirk after expansion to 14 teams, it will be the first time in the series’ 116-year history the teams play twice on the same campus consecutively.
Double dose of trouble: For the second straight year, Georgia had multiple tailbacks rush for more than 100 yards on the Auburn defense. Isaiah Crowell (132 yards) and Carlton Thomas (127) were the ones gashing the Tigers in a 38-point destruction.
They both left the program on bad terms in the offseason, the same situation as Auburn losing Michael Dyer after 2011. Except the Bulldogs were much better at reloading, with true freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley (116 yards) and Keith Marshall (105) putting on a show for the thousands of red-clad Dawgs fans who invaded Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Talk is cheap: Auburn right guard Chad Slade, whether or not it was a slip of the tongue, uttered a certain All-American outside linebacker for Georgia “can be stopped. It’s not that hard.”
Jarvis Jones, the Carver product from nearby Columbus, Ga., responded in kind, sacking freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace twice in the first half.
Next up: Auburn’s Senior Day and final home game of the year is next Saturday against Division I-AA opponent Alabama A&M (7-3) at 2 p.m. ET on pay-per-view television.