Terry Bowden still hasn’t lost as Auburn’s coach. Bill Curry still hasn’t figured out how to beat the Tigers.
Ninth-ranked Auburn made a successful return to national television, extending the nation’s longest Division I-A winning streak to 16 games with a 41-14 rout of struggling Kentucky on Thursday night.
All of the victories have come under Bowden, who has yet to lose as a major-college coach. This one may have taken on more importance because it came with the rest of the country watching and the Tigers hoping to make a big impression for the poll voters.
Auburn (5-0, 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference) was barred from TV last year by NCAA probation, but the blackout was lifted this season. Two of the Tigers’ first four games were shown regionally, but Thursday’s telecast was their first national exposure since 1992--the last time they lost.
“I don’t think the game was all that impressive in the second half,” said Bowden, asked what kind of impact the Tigers made on the rest of the country. “We played a lot of people. Whether it was impressive or not, I don’t know.”
Curry, meanwhile, has the Kentucky program headed in the opposite direction. The Wildcats (1-4, 0-3) lost their fourth in a row and Curry’s record against Auburn, as a coach with Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky, fell to 0-11.
“We’re a very frustrated team,” said Curry, whose team is heading toward its fifth consecutive season without a winning record under his guidance.
Bowden’s father, Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden, also was at the game, but his advice wasn’t needed. Auburn, in fact, barely needed need to bring its offense.
Ken Alvis returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, his second score of the season and fourth for the Auburn secondary, and Mike Pelton fell on two Kentucky fumbles, one in the end zone for a touchdown, the other at the Wildcat two to set up a touchdown.
“If our defense would just give us the ball, we might score a little bit,” quarterback Patrick Nix joked. “But I’m not complaining. I hope they keep doing it the rest of the year.”
Auburn attempted two passes on its first series and failed to gain a first down, then seemed to remember that Kentucky was surrendering an average of 321 yards per game on the ground.
The Tigers ran nine straight times on their next possession, with Stephen Davis gaining 53 yards in five carries and Joe Frazier getting 27 in three before Patrick Nix scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak.
“It was a game where we took control early and never let go,” Bowden said. “By halftime, the way we were running the football and playing defense, I felt like we had the game under control.”