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GAME RECAP: Mississippi State 23, Auburn 9

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Everything goes wrong in Starkville.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing went Auburn’s way tonight in Starkville. The defense got gashed by the run for the first time this season, the offense had trouble getting going until it seemed like it was too late, and two crucial goal line calls went against the Tigers, resulting in a two-touchdown swing. Auburn couldn’t overcome that, and fell 23-9 in Starkville.

With the loss, the Tigers drop to 4-2 overall, and 1-2 in the SEC.

The first half went quickly, with Mississippi State controlling the clock on the ground. The Bulldogs held the ball for more than twenty minutes and held the Tigers to just 79 total yards on offense. Auburn missed a couple of crucial opportunities, including a field goal by Anders Carlson, and a wide open touchdown pass to Darius Slayton. Jarrett Stidham had Slayton all alone down the field on a trick play and overthrew him for what would have been a sure touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were able to open up a 13-3 halftime lead thanks to Nick Fitzgerald’s controversial one-yard touchdown plunge as time expired in the first half.

After a review, MSU held the ten-point lead going into the locker room. Out of the half, they went on a field goal drive that sucked 8:05 off the third quarter clock. Coupled with the drive at the end of the half, that means that MSU held the ball for over twelve minutes of game time. The Auburn defense was clearly getting tired, and the Bulldogs started to gash the Tigers on the ground.

However, Auburn started to figure it out in the second half on offense, and mounted a drive for a field goal on the first possession of the third quarter. That drive was highlighted by a 42-yard pass to Ryan Davis, but the Tigers couldn’t get into the end zone. Trailing 16-6, Auburn appeared to have a touchdown on a long run by Boobee Whitlow, but it was ruled that he fumbled the ball just before he crossed the goal line and possession went back to MSU. A lengthy review negated what should have been a 41-yard touchdown to pull the Tigers within a field goal.

After the turnover, Auburn’s defense forced a three-and-out and another field goal drive followed as the Tiger offense stalled inside the ten. Carlson’s third kick of the night made it a one-score game at 16-9 with eleven minutes left to play in the ballgame.

In the fourth quarter, Mississippi State mounted a drive that included a 39-yard run by Nick Fitzgerald that gave him the all-time quarterback rushing record in the SEC, but Marlon Davidson blocked the Bulldog field goal attempt that followed. Daniel Thomas returned the errant kick out near midfield and a personal foul moved the starting spot for Auburn’s offense to the Bulldog 43. However, Boobee Whitlow dropped a screen pass on third down and Auburn failed on fourth down. The Tigers trailed 16-9 with 6:33 left in the game.

Auburn’s defense could not stop the Bulldog offense after that, and Nick Fitzgerald scored a capping touchdown with two minutes to play to clinch the win.

For the defense, it’s a frustrating night that includes giving up over 300 yards on the ground, and for the offense, frustration continues to linger after missing on a couple of key plays that would’ve changed the tune of the entire game. In general, it seems that Auburn is snakebitten in certain areas — the two reviews at the goal line that resulted in a fourteen-point swing chief among them — but this is not a top ten team, and we should not expect a turnaround like we saw last season.

It’s Auburn and Tennessee next Saturday at 11 AM CST from Jordan-Hare Stadium, and that’s not going to be an easy win. The Tigers still have a lot to work on in the off week, and Tennessee will be coming off of a bye themselves.

TEAM OFFENSE

AUBURN

  • Total Yards: 304
  • Passing Yards: 214
  • Rushing Yards: 90
  • Penalties: 2-10
  • Third Down: 3-14

MISSISSIPPI STATE

  • Total Yards: 422
  • Passing Yards: 69
  • Rushing Yards: 353
  • Penalties: 1-15
  • Third Down: 7-17

STAT LEADERS

PASSING

AUBURN: Jarrett Stidham - 19-38, 214 yards

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Nick Fitzgerald - 9-17, 69 yards, 1 INT

RUSHING

AUBURN: Boobee Whitloe - 8 carries, 88 yards

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Nick Fitzgerald - 28 carries, 195 yards, 2 TDs; Kylin Hill - 23 carries, 126 yards

RECEIVING

AUBURN: Ryan Davis - 8 catches, 91 yards; Darius Slayton - 4 catches, 58 yards;

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Farrod Green - 2 catches, 23 yards

DEFENSE

AUBURN: Jeremiah Dinson - 15 tackles, 1 INT; Marlon Davidson - 10 tackles, 0.5 TFLs; Darrell Williams - 10 tackles, 0.5 TFLs; Deshaun Davis - 10 tackles, 0.5 TFLs

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Mark McLaurin - 10 tackles, FF; Johnathan Abram - 9 tackles, PBU; Montez Sweat - 3 tackles, 3 sacks

SPECIAL TEAMS

AUBURN: Anders Carlson - 3-4 FGs (made 47, 38, 24; missed 50)

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Jace Christmann - 3-4 FGs (made 25, 47, 32; missed 31)