An emotional stab wound is how Auburn defensive back Carlton Davis described last year’s 54-46 overtime loss to Arkansas.
Davis gave up what would be the game-winning touchdown in the fourth overtime playing man coverage against Drew Morgan.
Morgan scored a 25-yard touchdown down the sidelines after the then-freshman missed a diving tackle attempt.
“This is something you don’t want to experience,” Davis said at the time.
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Coach Gus Malzahn even acknowledged it was a “tough loss” thanks to the number of missed opportunities in overtime and the way Sean White forced overtime with a 50-yard drive in the final minute of regulation.
Is the loss on the minds of Auburn coaches and players as they prepare for the rematch?
Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee doesn’t think so.
“We knew that game would be challenging in that place,” Lashlee said during his weekly press conference Sunday night. “The things that happened last year don’t matter this year.”
Lashlee who was the Razorbacks backup quarterback from 2002-04, compared it to the way Auburn approached its game before the bye week against Mississippi State, a team it lost a one-possession game at Jordan-Hare Stadium to last year.
“There’s no more added motivation than again, give them credit, we didn’t execute to the levels we needed to in order to win that football game,” Lashlee said. “They had a lot to do with that. We played Mississippi State last year. We didn’t feel any different doing to Starkville.”
That doesn’t mean the history between the two programs won’t make any difference.
The competitive nature of the rivalry — Auburn has a slight edge in the series 13-11-1 — tends to make the game a must-win matchup for the SEC West rivals.
“The programs both believe in a lot of the same things and I think that is why the series is very competitive,” Lashlee said. “Last year was a pivotal game for us and we didn’t find a way to win, they did. I think the way the season’s ended had a lot to do with that. We’re in a similar situation this year. We got to try to do better this time around.”