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About Last Night: #7 Auburn 56, Mississippi State 23

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This was complete and total domination.

Mississippi State v Auburn Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Hey everyone, in case you missed yesterday’s game (like if you were wearing red at a wedding), then it would be good to remind you that Auburn beat Mississippi State 56-23 in a game that might not have even been that close.

The Tigers scored on their first five possessions (all touchdowns), and the first drive they failed on was ended by a fumble that replay proved should be overturned (it wasn’t). Auburn went 7-8 scoring touchdowns, and led 42-9 at halftime. Bo Nix did something that hasn’t been done since Cam Newton, and every phase of the game looked like it’s not only improved, but improved a ton.

First of all, this wasn’t just a night for the football team, as the basketball team finally received its rings for last season’s heroics.

It was truly a celebration from start to finish at Jordan-Hare Stadium with that going on. Gus Malzahn and the football team provided the perfect backdrop for jubilation. A huge reason for that was Bo Nix, who finally seemed to arrive as the five-star quarterback that we thought he’d be. Yeah, he’d won the Oregon and A&M games, but he didn’t look stellar. Last night, he was stellar.

Final stat line for the freshman — 16-21, 335 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions, 7 carries, 56 yards, 1 touchdown. He led all rushers, and was one of nine ball carriers on the night. That’s a huge shift away from what Gus Malzahn has done over the years. By this time he’s usually found a workhorse and ridden him to victory. Now, he’s keeping backs fresh. Apparently, that came per the suggestion of Cadillac Williams, and it’s not surprising. Caddy always had Ronnie Brown, or Tre Smith, or even Brandon Jacobs for a time to keep his legs fresh. It just makes sense that he’d try to get a little more balance going than Gus has used in the past.

Still, last night was Boobee’s show from the start, and he made the play that everyone’s talking about today. On Auburn’s first play from scrimmage, Whitlow took the handoff from Bo Nix and scampered 30 yards into the end zone for the score, rolling over the MSU mascot Bully in the process.

Whitlow made up for what happened to Robert Baker and Jerraud Powers by squaring up on the Bulldogs himself and setting the tone for what would be a rather unpleasant night for Mississippi State. Overall, the Bulldogs had a really tough time after getting punched in the mouth early.

On Bo Nix, the comparisons to his dad’s Iron Bowl touchdown pass after the game-winner against Oregon were rampant, but there are even more parallels to uncover.

Know what Patrick Nix did the week after rolling Mississippi State in 1994? Went down to Gainesville and beat the top-ranked Florida Gators in the Swamp. Yeah.

After the win, there was a bunch of attention on Auburn. Best resume in the country? Probably. How should we rank teams? Based on how good we think they are or how well they’ve actually performed? It’s anyone’s guess, but there was a surge in attention from the unlikeliest of sources.

Normally anti-Auburn outlets were spouting the praises of Gus Malzahn’s team, and for Auburn fans used to the past, it’s tough. We’ve all gone through the “Auburn plays well when ranked medium” experiences — and it’s fairly true. The Tigers’ best recent seasons have come when they weren’t ranked highly to start. They were under the radar. And when Auburn has been given that recognition, oftentimes they’ve underachieved. Maybe it’s time to embrace it.

And maybe you shouldn’t do the whole Turnover Chain thing when you’re getting spanked.

If there was one area where Auburn can look to improve, it’s in ball security. Auburn officially fumbled four times last night, but one of these — see below — wasn’t a fumble, and all parties agreed on the air before the officials let the play stand.

On the others, Bo Nix had a fumble go out of bounds on a long run, Boobee Whitlow averted disaster when Anthony Schwartz dove on a ball that sat on the ground farrrrrr too long, and then the backups lost one late. It’s perfect for Gus to instill some more fire into these guys ahead of the Florida trip.

We haven’t even mentioned the defense, and it might be because it seems so pedestrian when they truck someone like they did last night. We’re used to them doing that now. Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson were downright violent at times, and I think Owen Pappoe had some of his best plays despite being lost in the zone read game at times. K.J. Britt should be an All-SEC backer this year, and Roger McCreary is turning into a real live cover corner. It’s beautiful to see.

In the end, this was a near-perfect game from a couple of standpoints. We saw the progression of the offense and there were enough things to work on that they can’t afford to loaf through the week with Florida on the horizon. Oh, and you won’t find any Gus naysayers in the picture below. It’s quite a different scene from what you might get in a blowout win across the state.

Now, are you ready for a huge, huge, huuuuuuuuuuge game down south? Auburn goes to the Swamp for the first time in 12 years (since Wes Byrum made it twice), and 25 years after Bo Nix’s dad led the game-winning drive in that stadium, and went 28-51 for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns on the day.

College Gameday will be there, the place will be packed, and Auburn gets a chance to cement its place in the top ten with what would be the biggest win by anyone this season so far. Gigantic week coming everyone, enjoy the fanfare, and War Eagle!