Auburn's Tre Mason scores in the first half of their college football game against Texas A&M on Saturday, Oct. 27. - Anthony Hall
Texas A&M dominated Auburn from start to finish in a game that was over by the end of the first quarter.
Texas A&M 63, Auburn 17. We thought Arkansas was rock bottom; we thought Ole Miss was rock bottom; we thought Vanderbilt was rock bottom. Those games weren't rock bottom. Texas A&M 63, Auburn 17 was rock bottom.
The Tiger defense had its worst night in the history of the program, allowing 63 points for the first time since 1917 and 671 yards for the first time ever. Going into the game, it was clear that the Aggies' high-powered offense was going to be a problem for the Auburn defense, but just as with everything else this season, no one thought it would be this bad. A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was excellent, completing 16 of 23 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 90 yards and three more scores. Manziel could have put up true video game numbers, but he was pulled midway through the third quarter when the game was long out of hand.
Trey Williams, Christine Michael and Ben Malena each ran for at least 63 yards -- Williams led the way with 109 -- and all three running backs found the end zone. Ryan Swope caught six balls for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Evans added 80 yards on five catches. The Aggies punted for the first time with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.
To no one's surprise -- no one that has watched the Tigers play football this year -- the Auburn offense struggled for much of the game. Texas A&M scored 28 points before Auburn picked up a first down, and the Tigers finished the game with 325 yards, most of those coming against Texas A&M's second- and third-string defense in garbage time. As it turned out, garbage time began midway through the third quarter. Clint Moseley started the game, but he was knocked out with an ankle injury. The return of Kiehl Frazier produced six completions on 11 attempts for 89 yards. Perhaps the lone bright spot was true freshman Jonathan Wallace, who completed 6 of 9 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 13 times for 71 yards, but even that performance should be taken with a grain of salt, as it mostly came against the A&M backups.
The pantheon of Auburn football losses features some significant clunkers. There was Tennessee 42, Auburn 0 in 1980. Alabama 36, Auburn 0 in 2008 was especially painful. Alabama 55, Auburn 0 was an awful way to resume the series in 1948. Saturday night's massacre may not rank as high on the list as those previously mentioned losses, but it isn't far behind. As if he couldn't make his fate any more certain, Gene Chizik continued to produce history in this historically bad season. The score put up by the Aggies hasn't been seen by any Auburn fan younger than 85, just as the dearth of conference wins this season hasn't been seen by any Auburn fan younger than 62. It's one thing for a coach to lead his team to a bad season, but the type of season Chizik is producing is once-in-a-lifetime bad.
Speaking of Chizik -- and the rest of the offensive coaching staff, for that matter: How has he not been able to identify Wallace as the team's best quarterback until now? As it was mentioned earlier, Wallace's performance came against Aggie backups, so it may not be indicative of his true abilities at this point, but he looks to be clearly better than Moseley and Frazier. Wallace made strong, accurate throws, and more importantly, he was quick and decisive with his release. The fact that Chizik and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler haven't been able to see that Wallace is Auburn's best option at quarterback is just another reason why they are no longer qualified to hold their current positions. As bad as Auburn's quarterback play has been this season, the neglect of Wallace is inexcusable.
Most of those involved with the football program appear to be ready for the season's end to arrive. Unfortunately, four games remain on the schedule, including two against the likely participants in the SEC Championship Game. It's bad now, but this is going to get worse before it gets better.