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Team Speed Kills’ College Football Facts Countdown Series: Day 90

Honoring the great play of Nick Fairley

SEC Championship - Auburn v South Carolina Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

College football season is well within reach!

With less than 100 days until kickoff, we here at Team Speed Kills are introducing a brand-new, quotidian countdown series to help you prepare for the first slate of college football action on August 26th.

In this series, we will post a daily SEC-related fact and/or story that corresponds to the number of the day in the countdown. Hopefully, you’ll find this series enlightening and entertaining. If you do, click that ‘share’ button we all know and love. If you do not, quit lying to yourself.

When it came to the hour for me to put proverbial pen to paper and write the Day 90 countdown post, my brain was, well, it was still really smart and good. So no, I totally didn’t, at the 11th hour, turn to the Team Speed Kills brain trust—more popularly referred to as “Slack”—in order for someone to tell me an SEC player who wore the number 90.

See? The proof’s . right . . here . . .

Okay, so maybe I did need some help racking my brain to remember an SEC player with the number 90. However, once the name Nick Fairley was brought up, I knew this would be easy to write. After all, a player with his talent is impossible to forget.

Nick Fairley spent two seasons at Auburn, but it’s his 2010-11 one that people will always remember. In 14 games with the team, he managed to rack up 60 tackles, 24 of which resulted in a loss of yardage. In addition to that, Fairley made his presence known to quarterbacks all across the SEC, coming up with 12 sacks.

One of the things that was most impressive about Fairley’s performances though, was that he was able to come through for that defense in clutch games. Take the 2010 Iron Bowl, for instance. It was a game that Auburn needed to win to keep their title hopes alive in the BCS era. They trailed 24-0 at one point. You know the rest.

In a game full of spectacular plays by Auburn, one of the best came from Fairley. As Alabama was knocking on the door, ready to increase their lead to 31-7, the skilled defensive tackle blew through the offensive line.

He went straight for McElroy. He got him.

In the process, he caused the first of two fumbles he’d initiate in 2011, helping spark the Auburn turnaround. Take a look for yourself. It’s a ferocious sack:

Besides that game, Fairley also turned in a fabulous performance in the national title game against Oregon. The stakes were as high as they could be, and Fairley didn’t let it faze him. He came through for Auburn, completing 5 tackles, a sack, and forcing one fumble. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he won Defensive Player of the Game honors.

Needless to say, 2010 was full of accolades for Auburn’s standout defender. From All-America honors to the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award to just being a national champion, it was a season that every player hopes for but only a precious few ever attain.

In a conference whose past and present is rife with defensive talent that would make even the most levelheaded quarterback quiver in his cleats, Fairley remains one of the best to ever set foot on the field. Unfortunately, we were only treated to seeing one stellar season from Fairley. Just imagine how great it would have been to see just one more year of him bringing down quarterbacks left and right. We all know that didn’t happen though.

But at least we have highlights.