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September 25, at Auburn Auburn 35 Southern Mississippi 24 A FAMILY AFFAIR With 17 Bowdens in attendance, including coaches on both sides, the Tigers averted an upset

PRIOR TO THE GAME AGAINST Southern Mississippi, Ann Bowden was
saying, ''I really don't want to go to the game. But all the family's
going to be there, and I just hope that everything turns out O.K. for
everybody concerned.'' It couldn't happen that way, of course, but
that's a mother for you.
The problem here was that one of the sons of Ann and Bobby Bowden
is, of course, Terry, Auburn's head coach; another, Tommy, is a Tiger
assistant, and so is a son-in-law, Jack Hines. Meanwhile, over on the
Southern Miss side was a third Bowden son, Jeff, an assistant in
charge of the Golden Eagle wide receivers. Joked Jeff, ''Three
against one makes the game about even.''
On hand for the game were 17 Bowdens in all, including Bobby,
whose Seminoles were enjoying an off-week. ''This really is fun,''
said Bobby. ''I think this is about my fifth time in 40 years I've
been able to sit with Ann at a football game.'' In a pregame analysis
of her boys Ann Bowden said that Tommy is ''more like his dad,
straight as an arrow, very dedicated.'' Terry, she said, is ''very
hyper, very aggressive and outgoing,'' while Jeff is ''more of a free
spirit, very handsome, a very personable person.'' Said the hyper
Terry of his mother, ''She'll be rooting for Jeff's wide receivers --
but for my team.''
Turned out the Tigers needed all the rooting they could get as
they stumbled and fumbled -- six times, losing two -- on their way to
an unimpressive 35-24 win. But Bowden (Terry, that is) had his
spin-control spiel in top form, telling his players afterward, ''This
is a great win because we did so many things to lose the game.''
Bowden had repeatedly reminded his team that the Eagles had
thumped Auburn in two of the last three years. And as wary Tiger
defensive tackle Mike Pelton said before the game, ''A loss to
Southern Miss will put us back in that slump we were in last year.''
All fears were confirmed instantly. On Auburn's first possession --
first play -- tailback James Bostic fumbled. Southern Miss recovered
and, two plays later, scored. Still, at halftime Auburn was cruising,
21-7, only to blow the lead in a dreadful six-minute span in the
third quarter. Southern Miss scored on a 39-yard pass from Kevin
Bentley to tight end Anthony Owens -- a graduate of Auburn High. With
their next possession the Eagles added a field goal, and then, 10
seconds later, defensive tackle Kevin Jackson intercepted Stan White
and ran 11 yards for a TD. The scoreboard told the story: USM 24,
In recent years, such a shocking turnabout would have sent the
Tigers into a swoon. But not Terry's Tigers. Two possessions later
White zinged a 40-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Thomas Bailey.
Auburn had regained the lead, 28-24. That would be enough.
Afterward Bowden said, ''We're not as good as you all would write in
the papers, but we are not as bad as we looked out there today. We're
somewhere in between.''
Later, reflecting on the family implications of the game and
thinking of brother Jeff's having to deal with the loss, Terry said,
''There's not that much fun in beating a brother, because it's not a
pickup game. These games aren't backyard barbecue games of
horseshoes. Your careers and jobs are on the line in this