Photo courtesy of Auburn athletics
Josh Heupel may be off to Knoxville, but UCF believes it has found its man in Gus Malzahn.
The former national championship winning offensive coordinator turned head coach took the job in Orlando this past week. Malzahn had spent the previous seven years as Auburn head coach after beginning his college head coaching career at Arkansas State.
In what will be the first of a 2-part series, we’ll count down Malzahn’s top 10 wins as a head coach. It begins with No. 10 down to No. 6:
10. Red Wolves Blank Blue Raiders to Win Sun Belt
Middle Tennessee 0, Arkansas State 45
Dec. 1, 2012
The regular season finale for Arkansas State in 2012 served as a de facto Sun Belt championship. Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee were each 6-1 in the conference as they met in Jonesboro. The winner would take the outright conference crown. From the opening kickoff, there was no doubt. The Red Wolves more than doubled Middle Tennessee’s offensive output. Arkansas State led 21-0 after a quarter and 35-0 at halftime. Quarterback Ryan Aplin went 19-for-21 passing with four total touchdowns. David Oku rushed for 102 yards and a score as Malzahn ended his tenure at Arkansas State on a 7-game winning streak.
9. Nix Finds Williams as Auburn Rallies Past Oregon in Opener
(11) Oregon 21, (16) Auburn 27
Aug. 31, 2019 (Arlington)
For most of the way, the top-20 match-up to open the season in Arlington looked like a lost cause for Auburn. With less than five minutes left in the third quarter, Oregon led the Tigers, 21-6. A touchdown pass from freshman Bo Nix to Eli Stove and a touchdown run by Joey Gatewood cut the lead to one with less than 10 minutes to play in the contest. With 2:05 to play and Auburn at its own 40-yard-line, the Tigers were down to their last drive. Six plays after a Nix scramble on fourth down kept Auburn’s hopes alive, the freshman fired for the end zone where he found Seth Williams for the winning 26-yard touchdown with just nine seconds left.
8. Auburn Runs Past Mizzou for SEC Title
(5) Missouri 42, (3) Auburn 59
Dec. 7, 2013 (SEC Championship)
The only SEC title for Malzahn at Auburn came in 2013. In the SEC Championship against Missouri, the Tigers finished with 677 yards of offense, including 545 yards on the ground. Missouri led 34-31 in the third quarter, but Auburn scored touchdowns on four of its next five drives. Tre Mason led the Tigers with 304 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Quarterback Nick Marshall added 101 yards rushing to go with two total touchdowns. The SEC title was the second in four years for Auburn, who went on to play for the BCS National Championship.
7. Tigers Take Down Ole Miss in Top-5 Showdown
(3) Auburn 35, (4) Ole Miss 31
Nov. 1, 2014
In a highly-anticipated top-5 showdown in Oxford, Auburn rallied from 10 points down in the third quarter to beat fourth-ranked Ole Miss. Down 24-14 in the third, the Tigers were able to take a lead into the final quarter behind a touchdown run and a touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Marshall. Ole Miss was able to regain the lead on a touchdown run by quarterback Bo Wallace early in the fourth, but Cameron Artis-Payne answered from six yards out with 10:23 to play. Ole Miss fumbled inside the Auburn 10-yard-line on each of its next two drives as the Tigers survived.
6. Tigers Top No. 1 Alabama for SEC West Crown
(1) Alabama 14, (6) Auburn 26
Nov. 25, 2017
With the SEC West crown on the line, Auburn stunned No. 1 and undefeated Alabama in the regular season finale at Jordan Hare-Stadium. The Crimson Tide led 14-10 in the third quarter, but Auburn scored the game’s final 16 points. Running back Kerryon Johnson, who passed for a touchdown earlier in the contest, scored from a yard out late in the third quarter to put Auburn ahead for good. Johnson finished with 104 yards rushing while the defense held Alabama to just 103 yards passing on 23 attempts. It marked Auburn’s first win over Alabama in four years.
Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.