My goodness, if you’ve ever wanted to listen to three announcers wonder which household chores they could be doing instead of calling a football game, then this was the game for you.
Auburn beat Mississippi State in an absolute barn-burner (not) by a score of 24-10 to finish the regular season at 6-4 and beat the Bulldogs for the second straight season.
What will stand out from this meeting in the long-standing rivalry is exactly how poor the offensive play was for nearly three and a half quarters. Auburn gained just 51 yards in the second quarter, and 27 in the third quarter, before finally breaking through for the game’s first touchdown in the fourth quarter. Mississippi State wasn’t much better, notching a few more yards but with fewer points.
All in all, the detractors of Gus Malzahn will have plenty of ammo from the first three quarters of this game, and the matchup overall, as the Tigers looked unprepared and ineffective against a sub-par MSU team. Defensively, Auburn had little trouble shutting down the Mike Leach offense, but overall it was a disappointing and frustrating effort even in the victory.
The first quarter began with dueling punts, but Auburn managed to meander 40 yards on 15 plays to notch a field goal from Anders Carlson, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead midway through the quarter. Auburn would hold that edge until the midway point of the second quarter (with a 3-2 outcome still in play) until Mississippi State added a field goal of their own to tie the game at 3-3. In the final minutes of the half, Auburn went on a 37-yard drive to get back into field goal range for Anders Carlson, and added another field goal to regain the lead at halftime with a 6-3 margin.
The third quarter was rough on both sides. Auburn managed just 27 yards as mentioned above, while Mississippi State gained 101 yards but no points. Auburn did scratch the scoreboard in the third period after a Smoke Monday interception started a Tiger drive deep in Bulldog territory. Still, the offense couldn’t move the ball, and a 7-play, 10-yard drive resulted in another Carlson field goal. 9-3, Tigers at the 4:28 mark of the third quarter.
Auburn finally broke through after a Bulldog punt backed the Tigers up to their own 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter. A long completion to Seth Williams on third down preceded a 27-yard run by Tank Bigsby, and Auburn capped the drive with a 32-yard scoring toss from Bo Nix to Williams. Auburn led 16-3, but MSU wasn’t done.
The Bulldogs returned the ensuing kick to the Auburn 29, and five plays later found the end zone on an 8-yard touchdown from Will Rogers to Austin Williams. At this point, both offenses started to find cracks, and Auburn leaned on Tank Bigsby to break into the MSU defense. On Auburn’s drive to answer MSU’s touchdown, Bigsby got up over 150 yards on the night, but the game endured a lengthy delay on a scary injury to MSU defensive tackle Maurquiss Spencer.
After resumption, Bigsby got Auburn down to the MSU 6-yard line, and Bo Nix finished the drive with a short touchdown run. Auburn converted the two-point conversion to push the margin to 24-10 with 6:03 left to play. That drive covered 75 yards after the 95-yard scoring drive, and seemed to get Auburn’s offense on track, even if late.
Auburn stopped MSU on a fourth down with 3:45 left in the ballgame, and seemed poised to ice the victory. All that was left was to pad the stats a little more for Tank as they ran clock. MSU had one final drive, but couldn’t muster anything and Auburn sewed up the win.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Tank Bigsby may not have been fully healthy for this game still, yet he had a monster performance tonight picking up yardage in chunks. Tank finished the game with 26 carries for 192 yards (7.4 yards per carry) and helped to pace an Auburn offense that absolutely couldn’t do anything through the air for the first three quarters and change.
PLAY OF THE GAME
It’s the touchdown to Seth Williams in the fourth quarter to cap the 95-yard drive. Auburn began the possession by converting a third down to Seth Williams, and finished it on a 32-yard toss to him as well. That kickstarted the Auburn offense, as they scored a touchdown on the next possession as well.
Bowl? I dunno, but you can start paying attention to Bruce Pearl full time now. Auburn finishes the regular season at 6-4.