51-14 was Auburn’s biggest road victory since the 45-7 win over Vanderbilt in 2003. That game saw the opening up of the offense as the Tigers scored their first touchdown of the season in Nashville. Last night, something similar happened. Wide receivers were running free, Jarrett Stidham had time to throw, and the defense was suffocating in completely taking the Missouri offense out of the game.
Auburn’s first play went 58 yards, and we’re going to dub that our PLAY OF THE GAME. It was over after that. The Tigers (the good ones) scored just a few plays later and the rout was on. Stidham to Kyle Davis was pretty much all we needed, it was the longest pass play of the season, and it showed pretty much everything that we wanted.
We’ve seen a ton of times that under Gus Malzahn, Auburn has kept it pretty simple on offense, beginning a game with a few runs and passing only when they need to. Last night showed everyone that the Tigers won’t be afraid to air it out and pass to set up the run. We didn’t need to see Stidham throw the ball 37 times this week since it was such an efficient performance, but it worked all the same. That could’ve been the type of watershed game the offense needed to break out. Do the same over the next two weeks and everything we thought was possible is still in our grasp.
With pretty much any other situation, I’d love to say that the entire receiving corps could grab our OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME honor, but you don’t score five touchdowns and go unnoticed. That’s why Kerryon Johnson is the player of the game. We saw his take on the Wildcat and how he’s able to utilize his special skills to convert near the goal line. He didn’t get many yards and didn’t have a great average, but five touchdowns is five touchdowns.
While Kerryon was in his first game back since the opener, we’re going to give the DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME to another guy who was back after an injury absence. Marlon Davidson caused plenty of trouble up front, but it was his astute play picking up the fumble from Drew Lock that many thought was an incomplete pass, and running it back to set up another Auburn score. With Davidson back in the game, it seemed to fuel the Auburn defense, and the Tigers were nearly frothing at the mouth as they wrecked Missouri time and again.
Finally, it’s not hard to deem last night’s SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE GAME. After a couple of snafus in the first quarter of the season, Daniel Carlson hit three field goals last night, including two from further than 50 yards. On his 54-yarder late in the game, I seriously thought Auburn would just punt from that spot on the field, but Carlson came in and calmly hit the long kick. He really is an incredible weapon, basically guaranteeing that you’re going to get points with any sort of venture into the opponent’s end of the field.
And, as a postscript, I thought the coaching job last night was really great as well. It was the result of a week during which we saw two highly-publicized departures from the team in Sean White and Byron Cowart, and the team came out firing harder than ever. The staff kept them together, ignored the whispers, and they played their best game of the season last night. Great job.