When Gene "5-19" Chizik was hired as Auburn's football coach, the college football nation was stunned.
A powerhouse program like Auburn passes up great coaches like Gary Patterson and Turner Gill for Gene Chizik?
Well, he is no longer Gene "5-19" Chizik. It is preferred to you call him Gene "21-5" Chizik.
Since Chizik was hired at Auburn, the Tigers have won 21 of 26 games, won an SEC championship and will play for a BCS championship on January 10th against Oregon.
Here are Gene Chizik's top ten wins since he was hired to be the head coach at Auburn University.
You have to start with the first game.
Chizik's Tigers played a Louisiana Tech team coached by now-Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley to open the 2009 season.
Auburn overcame a sluggish first half and destroyed LTU 37-13 to make Chizik 1-0 as Auburn's head coach. This was Gus Malzahn's breakout game as offensive coordinator.
In a game featured by ESPN's College GameDay, the No. 16 Auburn Tigers hosted the Clemson Tigers in the first game of a three-game series (AU goes to Clemson next year and the two play in the Georgia Dome in 2012).
Clemson looked like they were going to pull the upset, jumping out to a 17-0 lead. Auburn exploded for 21 points in the third to take a 24-17 lead. Clemson scored early in the fourth to tie the game and it was sent to OT.
Wes Byrum made a field goal to put Auburn up 27-24, and after a big stop by Auburn's defense, Clemson's kicker nails a tying field goal. Except.... there was an illegal snap against Clemson. He missed the second try and Auburn moved to 3-0.
Auburn was coming off two close losses to Georgia and eventual national champion Alabama. The Tigers played Northwestern in the Outback Bowl, setting up a powerhouse SEC program against a Big 10 team that has been bottomfeeders throughout history.
The Tigers jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead but found themselves in a 21-21 tie after three quarters. Auburn then scored twice to take a 35-21 lead over the 'Cats.
But then disaster seemed to unfold for Auburn. Northwestern had a lengthy drive to pull within 35-27, but Auburn recovered the onside kick. But then, trusted RB Ben Tate had a rare fumble and Northwestern had new life. As expected, Northwestern easily went through Auburn's defense to tie it at 35-35 with under a minute left.
Things kept getting worse for Auburn. On the next kickoff, Demond Washington fumbled the ball, and Northwestern had the ball yet again. However, a field goal with no time left was wide right, and there was OT in Tampa.
After a Wes Byrum field goal, strange overturned fumbles, several instances of prematurely rushing the field in victory, a roughing the kicker call and a failed fake FG attempt by Northwestern, Auburn had beaten Northwestern 38-35 to win the Outback Bowl.
Ordinary game, right? Surely, a QB throws for over 500 yards and five TDs and still loses every week, right? Because that's what happened to Northwestern's Mike Kafka.
The Tigers overcame a fierce rainstorm and an explosive West Virginia offense to defeat the Mountaineers, 41-30.
The game started off slowly for Auburn, as WVU jumped out to a 14-0 lead after less than five minutes of play.
WVU led 21-10 after the first quarter and picked off a Chris Todd pass deep in Auburn territory. The Mountaineers were about to go ahead 28-10 if this drive ended like most of the Mountaineers' drives had to that point.
But then the game changed. Auburn returned the favor and intercepted Jarrett Brown.
Auburn rallied and defeated West Virginia, 41-30, outscoring the Mountaineers 31-9 after the first quarter.
On October 3rd, 2009, 4-0 Auburn played its first road game with Gene Chizik as coach. The opponent was the Tennessee Volunteers, led by the most loved man in Tennessee.... Lane Kiffin.
The crowd of over 103,000 was the third-largest crowd Auburn had ever played in front of, and most of those people went home sad.
Auburn dominated the game, playing great defense and moving on offense. The Tigers led 23-6 in the fourth quarter and won a 26-22 game in Rocky Top territory that wasn't as close as the score showed.
Auburn made Lane Kiffin look like a lame kitten.
After several years of frustration, the Auburn Tigers pounded the LSU Tigers into submission.
OK, it was a close game. But Auburn literally pounded LSU. LSU's defense was giving up 83 rushing yards a game. Auburn ran for 440.
The Tigers were obviously a better team than the Bayou Bengals, but LSU's great punting game and several mistakes by Auburn made it close anyways.
A 70-yard TD run by Onterio McCalebb in the fourth quarter sent Auburn to a 24-17 win. The next day, Auburn would get its first No. 1 ranking since 1985.
On September 25th, 2010, the No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks rolled into Auburn as the favorites over the Tigers.
The Loveliest Village on the Plains was very lovely for the first 30 minutes for USC, as the Gamecocks rolled to a 20-7 lead in the second quarter.
From that point on, the Auburn offense kicked it into high gear (permanently) and came back to win 35-27 in what would be a surprising preview of the 2010 SEC Championship Game.
We knew these teams could score.... but 65-43?
Auburn scored on 10 of the 12 possessions they had the ball, seven of those 10 being touchdowns.
The biggest play of the game, however, was on defense. Auburn's Zac Ethridge recovered a fumble with a 44-43 lead and returned it 50 yards for an Auburn touchdown to make it 51-43 Auburn. That play took all of the wind out of the Razorbacks' sails.
This game was very poorly officiated, and Arkansas fans feel cheated by this game. But honestly, take away the Mario Fannin TD and Auburn still wins by 15. Auburn was a blatantly better team, outscoring the Hogs 28-8 in the fourth quarter.
After several years of inexplicable meltdowns in big games, the Tigers finally decided that living on the edge wasn't what it was cracked out to be. They decided a blowout would be better.
The No. 1 Tigers dominated the Gamecocks, 56-17, and Auburn probably left 10 more points on the field. Auburn rolled up 598 yards of offense and 28 first downs, and Cam Newton, despite all the great games he had had to this point, had his best game even yet with 408 yards of total offense.
Auburn won the SEC Title, its 11th conference title and first SEC title since 2004. They will play Oregon for the BCS National Championship Game.
Bama fans were very pleased with Jay Jacobs at one point. They even showed up to the airport to congratulate the Auburn AD for killing Auburn Football, giving the Crimson Tide an iron fist to rule the state of Alabama with.
Mr. 5-19 was going to be the death of Auburn football, and ESPN analysts, when asked when Auburn would beat Alabama again, said, "Don't hold your breath."
Alabama almost had a chance to enforce all of those things in the 2010 Iron Bowl. 11-0 Auburn came into Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on the Tide.
It started as a thorough whipping for the road underdogs (which is still puzzling). Bama led 21-0 after three possessions and Auburn kept going 3-and-out offensively.
Mark Ingram then took a screen pass 41 yards into the Auburn red zone... before Antoine Carter forced a fumble that Auburn would recover in the end zone. Bama kicked a field goal to go up 24-0, and people had seen this before. Bama jumped out to 24-0 leads in both of its two biggest home games that season, Florida and Penn State. When it's 24-0, it's over. Auburn didn't get the memo.
The Tigers scored on a 36-yard pass from Cam Newton to Emory Blake. Bama was driving right before halftime, but Nick Fairley sacked McElroy and recovered a fumble to end the drive. Bama led 24-7 at the half, and Auburn was very relieved by that. It could have been 38-7.
Alabama's failed opportunities came back to haunt them, as Auburn's offense was unstoppable in the second half, scored 21 points. Auburn's defense won the day, however, holding Alabama's offense to 67 yards after halftime.
Auburn came back to defeat Alabama, 28-27, in a game known simply as "The Comeback".