Classic rivalries steeped in tradition help define the SEC as the nation’s finest football conference.
The Iron Bowl, The Cocktail Party, and The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry all come to mind.
A less-renowned, oftentimes strange rivalry also merits mention among historic Southeastern Conference clashes: East Alabama Male College vs. Louisiana State, set to kickoff Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium, with CBS broadcasting the contest to a national television audience.
Devout SEC Banter readers know East Alabama Male College was Auburn University’s original name upon the school’s founding in 1856.
Among several questions I have: Was there a West Alabama Male College? Did EAMC’s founders include “East” in the name as a branding effort, to distinguish the institution from its west Alabama male college counterpart? Was the rivalry between East and West male colleges in Alabama a spirited one?
Finally, who changed the name to boring old “Auburn,” and why? East Alabama Male and Female College works just fine now that the school is coeducational.
(I note Auburn is the only SEC school named for the town in which it’s located. We got a lot a schools named for states – Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, on and on, but none named for a town except Auburn.)
In any event, the only thing stranger than Auburn’s original name is the history of you-can’t-make-this-up endings when EAMC and LSU meet.
Anything can happen – and almost always does – when these Tigers collide in their annual SEC West tilt:
The Earthquake Game, 1988. Everyone knows the crowd’s eruption in Tiger Stadium when LSU scored on 4th-and-goal registered as an earthquake on a seismograph in LSU’s geology department.
Few people know the true cause of the earthquake was my mom’s reaction to the play, over 60 miles away in New Orleans. I can still see her jumping up and down in pure jubilation.
The Interception Game, 1994. LSU led Auburn 23–9 in the fourth quarter, then tossed five interceptions in one quarter – five! – three of which were returned for touchdowns as Auburn notched an improbable comeback win. Auburn had just one first down in the second half, yet scored 27 points.
Bring Back the Magic Game, 1995. Unranked LSU brought back traditional white home jerseys and the storied magic of Tiger Stadium in an upset of No. 3 Auburn.
The Barn Burner Game, 1996. Auburn’s old gym was engulfed in flames just outside Jordan-Hare Stadium as Auburn’s 2-point conversion to tie the game in the waning seconds failed, and LSU avoided getting burned on the Plains.
EAMC Heritage Night, 2002. In a nod to its historic past, Auburn donned throwback uniforms honoring the 1886 East Alabama Male College team. Incredibly, internet research revealed no photos of this occasion, perhaps because I made it up.
The Upright Game, 2005. Auburn missed five field goals in Baton Rouge, including an overtime kick that doinked off the goalpost, preserving an LSU win. Rumors of bayou voodoo persist to this day.
The Les is Certifiably Crazy Game, 2007. Trailing by one and driving with seconds left, everyone figured LSU would kick a game-winning field goal. Les Miles instead called a long pass to the end zone, which was caught, and Miles’s zany game-ending theatrics reached their peak.
The No Money No Problems Game, 2010. Cam Newton ran wild over LSU and no one associated with Auburn paid him anything.
The Time Warp Game, 2016. LSU scored an apparent game-winning touchdown on the final play of the game, but replay showed time ran out just before the snap. Time ran out on Les Miles, as well, who was unceremoniously fired the next day.
The I’m Running Out of Names for These Games Game, 2017. Auburn jumped out to a commanding 20-0 lead early in the second quarter. An electrifying 75-yard punt return hit pay dirt for LSU, awakening the sleepy Tiger Stadium crowd as the Bayou Bengals stormed back for the upset win.
What will transpire Saturday afternoon, Lord only knows. But SEC Banter has a prediction.
EAMC’s defensive line of very large, very mean males will manhandle an LSU offensive front that’s in shambles and couldn’t block the likes of Southeastern Louisiana last week.
LSU will not score an offensive touchdown. The Tigers from Baton Rouge will stay competitive for a half through defense and special teams, but the second half will get ugly as EAMC pulls away.
And of course, something very strange will happen in the strangest, most underrated rivalry in the SEC.