In case you missed it, there were a ton of highlights from Auburn’s 63-14 win over Purdue in the Music City Bowl. It was the highest-scoring bowl effort in SEC history, and the Tigers’ 56 first-half points were the most in a single half in any bowl ever.
The fact that the highlights cut out mid-third quarter is telling, because Auburn really, really, really started to burn clock and let the air out of this one. They actually should’ve had an all-time bowl record 70 points on Joey Gatewood’s run late in the game, but it was called short of the goal line, and then C.J. Tolbert’s run was also called short when he looked to be in. It was a total and complete evisceration and the team seemed to feed off of Gamblin’ Gus’ play calls. It was fun.
Let’s get right to it and hand out some awards from the victory.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
It’s Jarrett Stidham. In his final game, the Auburn quarterback went a ridiculous 15-21 for 373 yards and 5 touchdowns. His rating? 299.2. Eat your heart out, Kyler. For the first time all year, Stidham was allowed to utilize the full field thanks to some more aggressive play-calling, more solid offensive line play, and the strength/speed of his receivers. He also had time to scan the field and find his second or third options on some plays. He was assertive, played confidently, and trusted his guys. He thrived on the support and had his best game in an Auburn uniform. It just kind of sucks that it was his last one.
Darius Slayton finally broke out as the big play threat that he became last year. All season long it looked like he was almost betting against Auburn because of the drops and miscommunications with Stidham. On Friday it was totally different. He had 3 catches, 160 yards, and 3 touchdowns. His first score was a simple post pattern where he burned the Purdue secondary and caught a beautiful deep ball from Stidham 6-7 yards behind the safeties. It went for a 74 yard score. His next catch was even more impressive because he took a simple screen pass on 2nd and 18, got a huge block from Marquel Harrell, and turned on the jets as he absolutely embarrassed some poor defender down the sideline for a 52 yard score. His last touchdown was simply him beating a defender one on one in the end zone for the final score of the half, making it 56-7 just before the intermission. Slayton had a slump this year, but he should bust out next season.
HONORABLE HONORABLE MENTION
The offensive line was great. Just great. Now, we have to consider the competition. Purdue was missing some interior defenders, and they don’t have a ton of talent anyway aside from Rondale Moore, but the Boilermaker defense didn’t register a sack, and Auburn ran for 208 yards on the day.
OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME
First dagger of the day was a beauty— AUNerd (@AUSportsNerd) December 31, 2018
Stidham fake draws LBs up a step or 2
Williams & Schwartz running drag routes designed to "rub" LBs. Stidham's fake brings the MIKE down a step into path of Seth which frees Boobee on the wheel
Whitlow does the work from there pic.twitter.com/lBWE8zNxNw
You can read AU Nerd’s description of how this play got drawn up above, but it’s shocking how well it worked. The key was Stidham’s Cam Newton fake, which sucked in the defense as if Stidham was some kind of threat to take off on a designed draw. This was one of the OG Gus plays back in 2010, and he pulled it right out of the Greatest Hits album for the opener on Friday. It was awesome.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
The entire defense had a great day, giving Purdue exactly one drive of consequence (and even that only cut the lead to 21-7). However, we’re going to give it to Deshaun Davis since we’ll never have the opportunity to give it to him again :-(
Davis racked up 9 tackles and a sack that ended Purdue’s drive at the end of the first half as they tried to salvage something down 56-7. While that was a great play in its own right, it didn’t come close to the actual best play of the day from that side of the ball.
DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME
So, in the first half, Auburn was perfect, getting 5 touchdowns on the first 5 drives of the game. After Darius Slayton’s 52-yard burst to make it 35-7, Purdue needed a spark, but they wouldn’t get it thanks to some pressure up the middle from Tyrone Truesdell. He’d bat David Blough’s pass into the hands of Big Kat Bryant, and Bryant did the rest.
After that pick six, Auburn had 6 touchdowns and 5 offensive drives.
More to come! Check out @AUSportsNerd on Twitter for GIF action as he breaks down plays from the win! War Eagle!