There are few better feelings than going into a hostile road atmosphere and coming out with a victory.
There are even fewer feelings better than going into a hostile road atmosphere and coming out with a victory against a ranked division opponent circling you for their own personal Super Bowl.
And there are even fewer feelings that are more satisfying than winning going away in that situation and setting yourself up with a week off to watch everyone else put it on the line.
That’s the #GoodSoup that Auburn fans are feeling this Sunday after the Tigers beat Arkansas 38-23 yesterday in Fayetteville. The Hogs were the toast of the division and largely the nation after the first four weeks, shooting up the polls into the 8th spot in the rankings after wins over Texas and Texas A&M.
Instead of shooting upward, Arkansas hit a brick wall and got shut out by Georgia before losing a squeaker to Ole Miss (boy, the Rebels are doing nothing but playing interesting games lately, huh?) and coming into Auburn week with the mindset that this game had turned into the season’s lynch pin. Arkansas had to figure out a way to win this one, and stay even in the SEC at 2-2, instead of falling in their third straight conference game and effectively putting themselves out of contention. Especially after Alabama lost to Texas A&M last week, everyone with either one or two losses (as long as one of those wasn’t to Alabama) still controls their own destiny in the West. Yesterday was a critically important game for the purpose of getting to try Georgia again. Everything as far as the conference race is still on the table for Auburn, it’s not so for Arkansas.
Let’s check the highlights from yesterday:
And in case you’re into that sort of thing, here’s an extra little treat for you with Sad Fan Radio featuring the Arkansas radio crew:
Arkansas made an absolute show of trying to turn this into a huge game. First of all, Auburn held a five-game winning streak over the Hogs coming into yesterday. It would have been a clean sweep for Gus during his tenure if Auburn hadn’t lost a 4OT game in the rain in 2015, but instead he just went 7 for 8 against Arkansas from 2013-2020. It was like he thought his job depended on beating the Razorbacks, because he didn’t ever leave any stone unturned in rolling up the Pigs.
Let’s also take it to last year, where Auburn definitely shouldn’t have won the game on a missed fumble call when Bo Nix spiked the ball backward. The officials blew the whistle and the play was dead, but it should’ve been a fumble with Auburn down 28-27 in the final minute. You can imagine that Arkansas was a little upset about that, and they wanted to make sure that they left nothing on the table in exacting revenge in 2021.
Then, there was the desperation. Two straight conference losses meant that a loss yesterday pretty much completely eliminated the Pigs from any chance to contend for the SEC West. It ain’t 2002 anymore, 5-3 won’t win the division.
If you want to know how yesterday went for Arkansas in one tweet without having watched any of the game, here it is:
Oh you’re fucking kidding me— Arkansas FRIGHT ♂️ (@ArkansasFight) October 16, 2021
Auburn basically unplugged/plugged back in everything that they’d been struggling to do up to this point in the season and it all worked yesterday:
- Deep passes/chunk plays: Bo Nix’s two passing scores came from 39 and 71 yards out
- Pass rush: Auburn got to KJ Jefferson 3 times, with one of those hits turning into a forced fumble and touchdown in the end zone for the Auburn defense
- Catching the football: Auburn’s receivers made some fantastic grabs yesterday, and Nix finished the game 21-26 for 292 yards. Some of those catches helped turn good drives into great drives, including the game-clincher at the end —
12 plays, 75 yards and 7 points (in 6:11) to seal a road SEC win over a ranked team— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) October 16, 2021
hang this drive chart up in the art museum, Auburn pic.twitter.com/AUgkpRThiX
Auburn’s script to begin games lately has been great, and they should’ve scored a touchdown against that Georgia defense last week to open the game, but, ya know, drops...
It’s also been impressive in do or die situations. The game-winning possession against LSU had multiple third down conversions, and some really great play-calling, but so did the clincher yesterday.
I know that people were concerned about having a robot football coach come in and take over the program from more of the huggy family feel that Gus instilled, but it certainly seems like the guys enjoy taking victories on the road.
Heading into the bye week, Auburn can focus on cleaning up some of the mistakes that are still lingering, or tinker up something to get the run game really humming like we know we’d want to see. Defensively, Derek Mason will need to come up with something fancy because Lane Kiffin is going to be in his cups after the insanity of last night.
More on that later. In the meantime, Auburn gets to fully ensconce and watch the Rebels (the next opponent) take on LSU at home with a brand new status on head coach Ed Orgeron. Ed O got the boot today, but he’ll stay on to finish the season, setting up an unreal coaching search battle between LSU and USC.
Hey, Auburn moved up to #19 in the polls today, so that’s fun. We’re back at it, and we get to see how Auburn can handle being a bit of the hunted one down the stretch with winnable games against Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, and South Carolina before the Iron Bowl showdown.