The Auburn Tigers have surprised almost everyone by compiling a record of 7–1 through the first two months of the 2013 season. History will remember most, however, whether the Tigers finish Gus Malzahn's first year on the Plains with a strong performance in November.
Auburn's 2013 regular season concludes with games at the Arkansas Razorbacks and Tennessee Volunteers and then at home against the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide. This four-game stretch of conference opponents has some Auburn fans remembering the "Amen Corner" of yesteryear.
Just what was "Amen Corner?" In each year from 1964–1991, Auburn's final four games of the regular season always included Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Pat Dye, Auburn's coach from 1981–1992, called these three final conference games the "Amen Corner," comparing them to the make-or-break gauntlet of holes No. 11, 12 and 13 of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.
The importance of "Amen Corner" during Dye's tenure at Auburn is easy to see. Auburn beat all three opponents—Florida, Georgia and Alabama—in four of Dye's 12 seasons, the same four seasons—1983, 1987, 1988 and 1989—when Dye's Tigers won outright, or tied for, the SEC Championship.
The stakes are equally high for Auburn in 2013. If the Tigers win their next four games, they'll play for an SEC Championship in Atlanta. Our review of the tradition, however, raises a question of semantics. Because Auburn does not play Florida in 2013, can we really call the home stretch of this season an "Amen Corner?"
Dye himself addressed this question concerning past seasons, pointing out that Auburn could play a true Amen Corner by facing Florida in the SEC Championship Game after playing Georgia and Alabama in the regular season. An Auburn-Florida matchup in Atlanta remains a possibility for 2013, but another scenario also conjures the original "Amen Corner."
If Auburn plays the South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC Championship Game, Gus Malzahn will face head coach Steve Spurrier. In the three seasons that Pat Dye faced Spurrier when the "Head Ball Coach" was at Florida, the Tigers lost all three games against the Gators.
So, perhaps Gus Malzahn and the Tigers of 2013 will have a chance to avenge Auburn's decline during the end of the true "Amen Corner" era.
Regardless, if the Tigers can win their final four games of the regular season, and secure an SEC Western Division championship after winning only three games in 2012, they are sure to hear shouts not just of "War Eagle," but also of "Amen!"
Josh Dowdy is a contributor to Bleacher Report and the author of Orange Is Our Color: The Tuberville Years through Navy-tinted Glasses.