The Inaugural Ride: Auburn vs. Western Kentucky

AUBURN, Ala. – Carnell Williams still remembers his senior day and the last time he ran out of the tunnel at Jordan Hare Stadium. It’s something special. Saturday is going to be very special for this group because of everything they’ve been through together.

Two coaching changes. New coordinators, position coaches. Play through a pandemic.

“These guys have been through a lot,” said Williams, the team’s interim head coach. “But one thing I can say to these guys is they’re getting better because they haven’t flinched once. You have stood your ground. You kept the faith. They keep believing, and I thank these young men, they’re going to do some really cool things in life because of all the adversity they’ve been through and how they’ve dealt with it.”

“[The adversity]just kept bringing us closer together,” said senior wide receiver Shedrick Jackson said. “I know a lot of these guys well, been to their weddings, know their families. I think it has brought us closer together as a team and helps us continue to play for each other.”

Jackson will be one of 24 seniors taking on Western Kentucky on Saturday.

It’s a group of players who will be remembered for their perseverance. No matter what was thrown in their way, they fought through. Even this season, when losses started to mount, they never gave up. They kept fighting, as shown by Saturday’s win over Texas A&M, and will continue to do so in the final two games of the regular season.

“I love this place, I love playing for Auburn and the people here,” Jackson said. “It’s one last time to go to that stadium and try to play and get another W.”

Saturday’s game kicks off at 3:00 pm CT at Jordan Hare Stadium. It will be televised on SEC Network with Dave Neal, Deuce McAllister and Andraya Carter. You can also hear Andy Burcham, Stan White and Ronnie Brown who will have the radio call on 93.9 Tiger FM and online at AuburnTigers.com.

“We’ve got to get our ‘A’ game going, so I’m going to call the Auburn family again,” Williams said. “Come unpack the house and let’s have fun and try to win.”

Auburn defensive lineman Marquis Burks (#92) during the game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL on Saturday November 12, 2022.Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers

 

Three questions with DL Marquis Burk

Q: It’s seniors day. What will it be like running out of the tunnel for the last time?

A: To be honest, I try not to think about it too much. The feeling of having my last game in Jordan-Hare brings me to tears. In my very first game, when we played Kentucky this COVID season, I ran onto that field and cried. Auburn is everything to me.

Q: How important is last weekend’s Texas A&M game to you?

A: This might actually be my best Auburn moment. This is my best Auburn moment. Everyone came together. We knew all the fans would pull through. As we fought hard in that Mississippi state game, we knew what was to come and we appreciate it all. These last two weeks have been a grind and we’ve been working.

Q: What’s it like playing alongside a guy like that? Colby made of wood?

A: Kolby is different. i love Kolby He’s a little brother to me. Just to see how he’s grown from that COVID year of playing outside – leading the team in tackles for losses – and then seeing him inside all season last year. This season is just one cornerstone of his game and shows he can be versatile and do anything.

 

Within the series: Western Kentucky

Auburn leads the brief streak on the gridiron with Western Kentucky 2-0, with both previous matchups also being played at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn was a 48-3 winner at the first meeting in 2003 and the Tigers were 37-14 winners at a contest in 2005.

In games against current members of Conference USA, the Tigers are 36-7-1 overall and 34-4-1 at home. These include contests against UAB (1-0), Florida Atlantic (2-0), Louisiana Tech (12-0 1), North Texas (1-0), Rice (0-2), Southern Miss (18-5) and Western Kentucky (2-0). The most recent matchup was a 24-13 home win by Auburn over Southern Miss in 2018.

 

Through the numbers

121: Panzer Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter each ran for 121 yards against Texas A&M, becoming the first pair of Auburn teammates to rush for 100 yards in an SEC game since Cameron Artis-Payne and Ricardo Louis did against South Carolina in 2014.

0: The Auburn defense kept Texas A&M scoreless in the first half, the first first-half shutout since last year’s Iron Bowl against Alabama. The Tigers have kept opponents scoreless in the first quarter in six of their ten games this season.

.670: Thanks to Colby Wooden In the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win over Texas A&M, Auburn improved to 65-32 (.670) when forcing a turnover since the start of the 2013 season and 39-11 when forcing multiple turnovers in that span.

86: Auburn will close the home roster on Saturday. The Tigers have an all-time record of 86-30-6 in the last game played at Auburn each season and have won seven of the last 10.

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