Day two of my countdown of the top 30 Auburn moments of my 30 years (I turn 30 Saturday) brings in some basketball to go with an otherwise football-heavy list. You may think some of these are pretty low, but it's my list. If you think it's wrong, go make your own list. For the pre-requisites for a play to be considered, as well as numbers 25-30 in the countdown, go look at yesterday's post.
24. Ben Leard to Ronney Daniels at Georgia (1999, 17 years old)
Ben Leard is/was a Georgia boy, but he hates/hated Georgia. He took that out on the Dawgs on that November night in 1999. This play has always stuck with me because I loved how Ronney Daniels was basically just slapping the guy as he ran down the field. It summed up the rest of the 38-21 blowout perfectly. I watched this play from my couch in the home of my parents.
23. Nick Fairley's sack and fumble recovery in the Iron Bowl (2010, 28 years old)
I always felt like this play didn't get enough praise. Fairley dominated offensive lines and quarterbacks all year, but this play showed his athleticism as well. The ball hung around on the ground for what seemed like a minute before he got off the pile of destruction (that he made himself) and covered up the ball. I feel like this play, as much as Antoine Carter's punch/strip to cause Mark Ingram's fumble, helped turn the 2010 Iron Bowl around in Auburn's favor. I watched this play in my grandparents' garage in a pseudo-tailgate setup.
22. Doc Robinson's half-court alley-oop to Bryant Smith (1999, 16 years old)
There hasn't been a more dominant year of Auburn basketball than the 1998-1999 season. Every time I hear someone say that Auburn will never be good at basketball, I point back to that year. It has happened and can happen again.
I remember this play because at the time I thought a 20-4 lead in basketball was the biggest lead ever. I was 17, get off me. I've seen plenty of those leads in the opposite direction now to know that they aren't that farfetched. I love this play because an alley-oop is just like saying "now I'm just messing with you," and one from half-court is the ultimate version of that. I watched this game from the couch after I was turned away from the Coliseum due to the game being a sellout.
21. Walter McFadden 102-yard interception return - (2010, 27 years old)
I know that a win over Northwestern really isn't anything to get too pumped about, but the longest interception return in Auburn history has to make the list. At the time, it looked like Auburn was going to run away with the game, but as you remember (and saw in yesterday's post) this play ended up being pretty important.
By the way, the flag for excessive celebration was ridiculous. What else are you supposed to do when you run 100 yards without anyone in sight? I'm surprised Walt didn't stop for a water break around the 50-yard line. I watched this play from my recliner, again, with Baby Blogle in my lap.
20. James Bostic's 70-yard TD run against Alabama (1993, 11 years old)
This play is a little bit foggy in my head, given that I was 11 years old, but I do remember it happening. This was the first Iron Bowl that I attended where I knew what was going on, and I got to sit in the orange (scholarship) seats with a friend whose dad is the team dentist. So while the play was awesome, I was probably more worried about the free popcorn at the time.
However, I really do remember going ape when Bostic busted up the middle to put the game away in the 4th quarter. As you know, the Tigers won the game 22-14 and ended the season 11-0. As I mentioned, I witnessed this play in the lap of luxury.
19. Ryan Smith's tackle at the goal line against Mississippi St. (2011, 29 years old)
I know by the end of the 2011 season, everyone had pretty much forgotten about this play. At the time, this play (and win) looked like it could have been a big deal, but as Mississippi State did their normal stroll down 6-win Lane, and as Auburn struggled throughout the rest of the year, this stop was forgotten.
But in terms of this countdown, this play definitely deserves to be in it. The way I acted after it happened probably embarrassed a few people around me, even ones that didn't know me. If you remember, this win kept Auburn's 17-game win streak alive when the entire world was dying for the "you don't have Cam Newton anymore" Tigers to lose. So when Ryan Smith made that tackle, I let the world have it. Of course they couldn't hear me because Jordan-Hare Stadium was deafening, but I tried my best. I witnessed this play 50-or-so rows above the end zone where it took place.
Check back tomorrow for numbers 13-18, and throughout the rest of the week for the remainder of the countdown. Oh, and you know, if you wanted to send me a birthday present, you could donate to the 'Blogle, or email me and I'll give you an address of where you can not send a bomb.