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Game Superlatives: Auburn 28, Texas A&M 24

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Big plays in the passing game highlight this week’s edition!

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

When was the last time that Auburn had a game like this? To be honest, under Gus you can usually tell how things are going to go one way or the other. Whether Auburn’s playing well and running away with it, or playing poorly and there’s a foregone conclusion that the Tigers aren’t having their best day, it’s always been pretty evident early for Gus’ teams.

Yesterday was the first time under Gus that I’ve seen a game turn on a dime like that. Sure, Auburn’s lost big leads and had big comebacks, but for 55 minutes, that was an unforgettable Aggie win. Thankfully, it was a positive result for Auburn.

Sure, there are going to be some people upset with Auburn for daring to come back and win. There are those fans that would like to sacrifice a couple wins this season to get a new head coach, but that’s no way to be a true fan. Let’s enjoy wins without the clandestine ops behind the scenes planning coup d’etats.

And here’s what Gus Malzahn had to say about the game afterward:

  • What stands out is despite playing pretty poorly in all three phases at times, the guys were resilient and got the momentum from the Noah Igbinoghene interception to score twice down the stretch.
  • Gus says that getting the ball in Ryan Davis’ hands is like trying to get him the ball in a punt return situation where he can just use his talents.
  • Giving Jarrett Stidham more options gave him some confidence and dealth with A&M’s blitz schemes down the stretch and that helped him run the two-minute offense very efficiently.
  • Not happy with the rushing offense, obviously only going 19 yards is terrible, but winning with that stat is something impressive.
  • Seth Williams got a lot of work in the off week, and it showed yesterday with the two touchdowns.
  • Defense wasn’t great but did end up holding at the right times and making clutch plays at the end.
  • Iggy’s interception got the crowd back into the game, and an explosive play right after it completely turned what was kind of a sleepy second half into an actual atmosphere.
  • Christian Tutt’s punt return late was a hair away from being a “house call” but it was a huge play either way and gave Auburn good field position to start the game-winning drive.
  • Kaleb Kim starting at center gave Auburn a little bit more experience at center and with him being more healthy they made the decision during the off week to get him back in the starting lineup.
  • “When we don’t turn the ball over, we’re tough to beat.”
  • On the subject of everyone focusing on the big prize of a national championship, there’s still a lot to play for if you’re not in the national title picture, so it’s not difficult to get guys looking at the prize.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME

I’m going with Jarrett Stidham. This is a game that he could’ve folded without run support and the pressure that Texas A&M was putting on him. That’s what happened last year against Clemson, and it could’ve happened again yesterday, but it didn’t. Stidham went 18-29 for 259 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no turnovers.

It’s more than the numbers, too. When Auburn needed to get some points late, Stidham went pretty much unconscious in the final two drives. His numbers in those possessions? 7-8 for 125 yards and the game-winning touchdown. That brings us to...

OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME

Here it is.

Now you get the AU Nerd take:

It really was. We’ve talked about Stidham’s misses this season, but this was the guy we thought we’d see coming into the year. He was great right there, and it couldn’t have come at a better time with Georgia on the schedule next weekend. Oh yeah, there’s this kid named Seth Williams who looks like the absolute real deal. What a stud.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME

Hiya, Daniel Thomas. 12 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 quarterback hurry, 1 forced fumble. The guy was a monster yesterday, and continues to impress in his junior season after being the latest of late signees out of Montgomery during his recruitment.

It all started with those two interceptions against Alabama two years ago, and his playmaking ability has really grown since then. This might have been his best game as a Tiger, and Auburn needed every single one of his big stops. His forced fumble early led to the first touchdown of the game for Auburn, but it was another defensive back who had the defensive (and maybe overall) play of the game...

DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME

Trailing 24-14, Auburn had no life, no energy, fans were leaving, and the entire stadium needed a spark. Jimbo Fisher elected to have his quarterback throw the ball when the Tigers couldn’t stop the run, and Auburn took advantage of the opportunity midway through the fourth quarter.

Auburn scored a touchdown to pull within three just a couple minutes after this, and then the go-ahead touchdown came after another good defensive stop. Mond had to make a really long throw on this play, and Noah Igbinoghene read it really well and got in position to make the play. He is a former wide receiver, and he’s become one of Auburn’s best defensive backs this season. This interception turned the fortunes of yesterday’s game, and the win overall may change the fortunes of the entire season. We’ll have to see.

Auburn’s got Georgia this coming Saturday at 6 PM CST from Sanford Stadium in Athens. It’s going to be the toughest test yet, but it’s only the start of Amen Corner. Ugh, it’s rough. Let’s go. War Eagle!