On Sunday, we posited the idea that Auburn’s 31-10 loss to New Mexico State this past Saturday was the worst in program history.
We also offered up five other possibilities:
Alabama 17, Auburn 15 (1984)
Southern Miss 10, Auburn 9 (1991)
South Florida 26, Auburn 23 in OT (2007)
Alabama 36, Auburn 0 (2008)
Texas A&M 41, Auburn 38 (2014)
We also asked readers to give their suggestions via email on games we might have missed, and boy did they. Here are the best responses we received, along with our replies:
Wofford 19, Auburn 14 (1950)
Southeastern Louisiana 6, Auburn 0 (1950)
Different era, but the winless Auburn team’s opening game loss to Wofford in 1950 may still rank as Auburn’s absolute worst. In fact it may have set the table for the 9 losses that followed, including one to a Louisiana directional school.
— Don C.
I’d say as bad as this was, it’s not the worst. In AU’s winless 1950 season, there were losses to Wofford and SE Louisiana — both are FCS teams today and I’m sure it was quite humiliating. The NMSU loss is more along the lines of UA losing to Louisiana-Monroe in Saban’s first season. Embarrassing yes, but not defining the season.
— Bryan P.
Your research, age, and that of your readers doesn’t go back far enough. I saw all of the games listed. Each of them was crushing but does not compare to two of the losses of 1950. Auburn was woeful (0-10), but losses to Wofford and Southeast Louisiana had to be worse and more embarrassing.
— William S.
With Auburn being 0-10 that year I’m not sure it mattered that much. Also, that season led to Shug Jordan being hired as head coach, so I guess it worked out OK.
Wake Forest 42, Auburn 38 (1979)
Auburn matchup on October 27, 1979. This 42-38 victory by the Demon Deacons is one of the most memorable games in Wake Forest football history as well as the first time that two ranked teams faced each other in Groves Stadium.
— Samuel D.
I tend to disregard the Barfield era because there were a lot of bad losses in those days.
Tennessee 42, Auburn 0 (1980)
I attended the Auburn vs Tennessee game on September 27, 1980 with my friend John. I had tickets to Bama vs Vandy that day but [John’s father] always had better tickets and I thought AU/UT would be more entertaining. Auburn lost 0 to 42 but Bama only beat Vandy 41 to 0 that day. It was the most embarrassing football game I had ever attended. People were calling for Doug Barfield, Auburn’s coach, to be publicly executed, completely overlooking the options of just firing him. His extended family, seated near us, left early in the second half. That was his last season. I am not sure if it belongs on the list but I want to send this message so you could have the benefit of an old football fans’ memories.
— B. White
Don’t forget Tennessee 42 Auburn 0 in 1980. I believe Auburn was actually favored.
— Billy W.
I think you missed the worst loss of all time. Auburn was ranked No. 18 in 1980 and was a heavy favorite against Tennessee. Auburn lost 42-0. For the next decade “42-0?” could be found around campus carved in desks and written on various things in permanent marker.
— John G.
Good one. But that led to the hiring of Pat Dye, so I guess it worked out.
Alabama 25, Auburn 23 (1985)
I would include Van Tiffin’s “The Kick” Iron Bowl game in 1985. Alabama had come to within 1 point of tying Auburn with a late touchdown. They held Auburn on the next series, and Bama got the ball back with less than a minute to play. Mike Shula orchestrated a perfect drive downfield to get Bama into field goal range with 6 seconds left. Van Tiffin nailed it from 52 yards, which, at the time, was almost unheard of for a college kicker.
— David R.
That one was right up there with 2013 as among the greatest Iron Bowls ever.
That said, that was a really good Alabama team and Bo Jackson was banged up. Also, Auburn was already out of the SEC championship race after losing to both Tennessee and Florida.
A gut punch of a loss for the Tigers for sure, but in the long run not as costly as some others.
Penn State 43, Auburn 14 (1996)
1996 Outback Bowl. In a monsoon Penn State won 43-14.
I guess I excluded bowl games.
Alabama 31, Auburn 7 (2001)
Auburn had a shot at wrapping up the west. It was Dennis Franchione’s first year at Alabama. Cadillac went down with a broken clavicle. Galloway and Beard ran wild, with the team having over 330 yards rushing.
— Bob E.
Good one, but I couldn’t put Tuberville on there 3 times.
Texas A&M 63, Auburn 21 (2012)
How could you not like include our humiliating defeat to Johnny Football’s 2012 Texas A&M team in your list of potential “worst losses in Auburn football history”? It was forty-something to zero after the first quarter!
— Mark W.
I guess, but that Auburn team was 0-8 in the SEC. Was any one loss that much worse than the others that year? (The Iron Bowl was 49-0).
I tended to focus on Auburn teams that had decent expectations or were actually playing for something.
LSU 27, Auburn 23 (2017)
Alabama 24, Auburn 22, 4 OT (2021)
I don’t know if a loss that ‘hurts’ can be among the ‘worst’ but 2 games come to mind. First, a few years back under Gus, I think Auburn was leading LSU by 20 points (!) & lost. The other bad loss may get mentioned this week, and that’s the 2021 Iron Bowl in Auburn where Bama came back from 10-0 in 4th quarter to win in OT. That had to hurt the Aubs, but I thought it was pretty good.
— Kelly J.
Someone else mentioned that LSU game. I forgot all about it.
The last word
I thought of South Florida, as the NM State debacle unfolded. But Auburn was competitive in that game. It was not competitive against NMS. And losses to what are essentially “Division 1″ teams is never as bad as losses to Division 2 or 1-AA. I admit they change the names of these divisions so much that I can’t keep up any more and I can’t figure whether NMS is FCS or FBS. But losing to a no-win this-year Alabama or Texas A&M that you should beat is stinging. But losing to the cream puff Sisters of the Poor is devastating. I have been an Auburn fan since the 1960s. This is their worst loss since then.
— Mark O.
New Mexico State is in Conference USA, which means they have the same number of scholarships as Auburn. CUSA is the worst of the FBS conferences, but it’s technically the same level as the SEC. Still a bad loss, especially by 3 TDs.
Creg Stephenson has worked for AL.com since 2010 and has covered college football for a variety of publications since 1994. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @CregStephenson.