Last night was a good note to the rest of the conference that this is a three-team race. We’re in the same category right now with Alabama and Georgia, both top five teams at this point. Auburn will get there, neither of those two has faced a non-conference opponent like we have. Now, we’ve gotten our kinks out (mostly) and have started to gel on offense. So, what were the top moments and performers from last night’s win?
Check out the highlights first:
PLAY OF THE GAME
Take your pick. Do you like Kerryon’s tone-setter to start the game that led to our first touchdown? What about the flea-flicker deep ball to Darius Slayton? Or one of the other three long shots from Stidham?
Personally, I’m going to go with the 57-yard completion that began our 99-yard touchdown drive. Pinned at the one-foot line, Auburn started a drive as deep as you can get in your own territory. Chip Lindsey spread out the offense and put Mississippi State on its heels by dropping Jarrett Stidham back and letting him bomb away. Eli Stove ran all the way across the field, losing a defender in the process and caught a pass on the western sideline, crossing midfield for the backbreaker. He followed that up with a long end-around run and then Auburn punched it into the end zone shortly thereafter.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
With the way the offense moved the ball last night, it would be easy to say that Stidham would be your offensive player of the game, seeing as how he completed four passes of more than 40 yards and pretty much stretched the field all night long.
But how was he able to do that? Because he had a ton of time. That’s why Casey Dunn is our nod here tonight. Dunn came in and played center as Herb Hand shuffled the offensive line, moving Austin Golson to left tackle and takig Prince Tega Wanogho out of the lineup. The experienced front five led to a better rushing total than we saw last week (against a better defense, I might add), and Dunn was the linchpin in the middle.
Honorable mention to Malik Willis. Oh man, we’re excited about that.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
After seeing how Nick Fitzgerald eviscerated LSU, we were all thinking that the MSU quarterback had taken a big step forward after last year. With near-Cam size, he was in an offense that really helped utilize his talents, and it showed against the Bayou Bengals. Then Georgia shut him down. We weren’t sure which MSU team we’d see -- the high-flying efficient attack from two weeks ago, or the one that deflated in Athens.
Jeff Holland made sure that it Mississippi State repeated last week’s offensive showing. He only had two tackles, but one of those was a big sack, and he added four quarterback hurries as well. Fitzgerald was hurried all night long, and Holland made him think about the pressure every time he dropped back to pass.
Honorable mention to THE AUBURN CROWD. MSU committed, what, seven false starts? They had 10 penalties for 39 yards. Time and again the crowd and the itchiness of Auburn’s defensive front made a Bulldog lineman shudder and draw the flag. That was huge to get them out of their rhythm.
Next week is Ole Miss, so we can get our clean sweep of the Magnolia State. Be there and don’t let the 11 AM kickoff time catch you (literally) sleeping.