AUBURN — Auburn’s rematch with Penn State has been circled on every fan’s calendar since the series was announced in 2016, and even more so after last year’s classic in Happy Valley. Apparently, some of Auburn’s leaders in the locker room have circled it too.
“We think we should have won the football game,” said Auburn tight end and captain John Samuel Shenker. “That's left a sour taste in our mouth for a year now. So we've had this one circled for a while.”
Auburn traveled to Penn State during the white-out game, one of the best and most hostile environments in college football. The Tigers came up short, losing 28-20 in their first big test of the season and first ranked matchup of 2021.
Sean Clifford was the quarterback for the Nittany Lions as the offense picked apart the defense, and Clifford finished the game with 280 yards through the air and two touchdowns.
Auburn edge rusher Derick Hall remembers that game and hopes to avoid the same mistakes that cost Auburn one year ago.
“We weren't consistent enough. We didn't execute enough,” Hall said. “So we have to be very precise in our process so we can make sure we do everything right to be able to have a chance to win this game.”
It did not derail the season for Auburn, as the team still started the year 6-2, but the win would’ve been important to the team in addition to the program’s first-ever regular-season win against a Big 10 opponent.
“I thought early in the season that could have really helped us out last year just confidence-wise, because we feel like we had that game,” Shenker said.
Now, Penn State travels south to Jordan-Hare stadium to face the Tigers on their home turf. The Nittany Lions have a long history with SEC opponents, including a home-and-away series with Alabama during the 1980s, but they have only faced an SEC team on the road once since 1990.
That one game was a 24-3 loss against the Crimson Tide in Bryant-Denny stadium in 2010.
“Penn State is believed to have one of the best environments in college football, obviously, we have the best here in Auburn,” Hall said. “Coming here to Jordan-Hare, I hope we can make [Sean Clifford] feel uncomfortable. I hope this environment is something that he hasn't been used to before.”
Auburn has won its last 17 home games against non-conference opponents, and the magic of Jordan-Hare has struck on more than one occasion in recent memory.
As Bryan Harsin looks ahead, his focus remains on preparing his players for the rematch, including learning what he could from last year’s matchup, despite Penn State having a different offensive coordinator.
“There's probably some opportunities that we missed,” Harsin said. “It was a big game. They were the better football team. So we’ve got to prepare for that, we’ve gotta learn from it.”
Penn State and Auburn will kick off inside Jordan-Hare stadium at 2:30 p.m. CST live on CBS. Auburn looks for revenge and to even the series 2-2.
Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.