2. 1976 vs. Memphis State, 28-27
Losing to Memphis State in Coach Jordan’s final season was a tough pill to swallow, but the loss to Memphis State the following year was much, much more concerning.
Sure, it was a closer game, but rather than signal the end of a legendary era, it ushered in one of the worst eras of Auburn history. Before Bryan Harsin arrived on the plains if you asked Auburn football fans who the worst coach in school history was, the answer was unanimous: Doug Barfield.
The loss to Memphis State kicked off a five-year tenure in which the Tigers never won more than eight games, and finished with a losing record in three of five years. 1976 opened with respectable back-to-back losses to Arizona and Baylor, but this was the game that solidified the struggle.
Auburn would lose to Southern Miss and NC State the next year, and they would never beat Alabama under Barfield. In his five seasons, the Tigers were 29-25-1 overall, and 15-14-1 in the SEC.
This entry is centered around the Memphis State defeat, but it’s about much more than that. This game is an avatar for the darkest sustained stretch in program history. It could be argued that the Harsin era was worse, but he was kicked to the curb after just two seasons. The Barfield era was a half-decade of ineptitude.