Many of us expected this result, but we all probably hoped for something a little cleaner and more enjoyable to watch.
Auburn slogged past Tulane 24-6 at Jordan-Hare Stadium to improve to 2-0 on the season, but it didn’t come as easily Gus Malzahn and company may have liked. In a game that mirrored contests between Southern Miss last year, and Mercer in 2017, the Tigers fell behind 3-0 early before taking the lead and never relinquishing it.
Bo Nix finished with a turnover-free game in his second start, going 19-37 for 207 yards and a score, but the Tigers took a few drives to get going and never established a rhythm on offense.
Tulane tacked on a field goal on its first drive, but the defense stiffened afterward. There was never really much of a feeling that Auburn was in danger of losing this game, especially with how well the defense played, but there are serious questions now about the offense.
Auburn gained 379 yards overall, with many of those coming on the ground late once the rushing attack wore down Tulane’s defensive front. Before halftime, the Tigers had just 20 yards on 13 rushing attempts, and Boobee Whitlow had fumbled twice. Thankfully, Bo Nix notched his first touchdown pass on the Plains early in the second quarter on a 31-yard strike to Will Hastings, who spun past a defender and took it into the end zone. That gave Auburn a 7-3 lead, and they’d never fall behind again.
Later on in the quarter, the Tigers drove 58 yards in 7 plays and Eli Stove took a jet sweep into the end zone to establish a 14-3 lead for Auburn, but the Green Wave added a field goal just before halftime to make it a one-score ballgame heading into the intermission.
After halftime, Auburn sputtered offensively again, with Bo Nix missing a few easy throws before the running game started to establish itself. Boobee Whitlow gave Auburn more than enough cushion late in the third quarter with a 14-yard score, which came after a drive during which he carried 9 times for 54 yards. Overall, Whitlow finished the game with 96 yards on 23 carries to go along with that touchdown.
Auburn did take a body blow to its offensive staff, however, as Seth Williams left the game in the second quarter after a 40-yard completion. He took the catch over a Tulane defender, and crashed down onto his left shoulder. Auburn scored just after the play, but Williams left the game and returned to the sideline in street clothes with his shoulder in a sling. There’s currently no indication as to the severity of the injury, but it doesn’t look promising.
Thankfully, Auburn’s got one more tune-up game coming against Kent State next Saturday night before the SEC opener at Texas A&M on September 21st. We’ll have more on this game and what we saw tonight coming up later, but early indications say that this may be the classic Gus Malzahn vanilla non-conference game... or it could be a more sinister problem with Auburn’s inability to run the ball and control the line of scrimmage when on offense.
We’ll have to see. For now, the Tigers are 2-0, unlike a boat load of other teams. War Eagle.