Auburn made us endure one of the most painful things I’ve ever seen today, blowing a 28-3 lead late in the second quarter and losing 43-34 to Mississippi State at Jordan-Hare Stadium. With the loss, the Tigers fall to 6-4, while MSU improves to 6-4.
It was a slow burn, as the Bulldogs scored their first touchdown trailing 28-3 in the second quarter, and then scored again to start the second half before you really knew that things were troubling for the Tigers. They ripped off six straight touchdown drives while Auburn couldn’t find any success on offense and went impotent at the wrong time. What an unfortunate tale of two halves.
Auburn didn’t waste any time breaking that six-quarter touchdown drought, as Bo Nix hit Shedrick Jackson on the opening play for 49 yards, and then four plays later Tank Bigsby went through the line for a 5-yard touchdown run. After just 2:23, the Tigers led 7-0 after the 67-yard scoring drive.
Mississippi State’s first drive took much longer, lasting 14 plays and dragging on for 49 yards and 5:22 off game time, but it felt longer with the number of flags thrown. Auburn had two 15-yard penalties negated by reviews, but a key unnecessary roughness penalty on TD Moultry gave MSU a first down inside the Auburn 20. Derek Mason’s defense bowed up and forced a field goal try, which Nolan McCord banged through from 34 yards away to cut the margin to 7-3 Auburn.
Again, Auburn took little time to answer, utilizing Tank Bigsby for another couple of first downs before Mike Bobo dialed up a beauty. Nix faked the zone read to Jarquez Hunter, then sprinted left and tossed a backward pass to Ja’Varrius Johnson, who scooted through six MSU defenders for a 57-yard touchdown. After the extra point, Auburn led 14-3 with a 6-play, 82-yard drive to follow the opening touchdown jaunt.
Mississippi State was forced to punt, and Auburn got a key third down conversion on a completion from Nix to Demetris Robertson on the ensuing drive to reach the red zone. The Tigers ended up facing a fourth and short, and a jet sweep to Shaun Shivers converted for a first and goal inside the MSU 5-yard line. Two plays later, Nix bootlegged out heading to the right to find Luke Deal traipsing by the end line for a 4-yard touchdown pass. Auburn led 21-3 after the score with 11:59 to go until halftime.
The Tiger defense forced a three-and-out on MSU’s next drive with the defensive effort paced by a second down sack from Eku Leota, and Auburn would regain possession in good field position with a 21-3 lead. To open the next drive, Nix hit Robertson again for 23 yards to move into Bulldog territory, and two strong runs from Bigbsy earned another first down. Nix found Kobe Hudson and Malcom Johnson on consecutive plays to move into the red zone. On a second down, Nix went for Hudson in the back corner of the end zone, and Hudson snagged the touchdown pass with one hand to put Auburn up 28-3 with 6:10 left in the half.
Nice catch and a touchdown for Auburn’s Kobe Hudsonpic.twitter.com/SD5I1v3GLo— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) November 13, 2021
Mississippi State’s next drive burned plenty of clock as they milked it down near 2 minutes, converting a fourth down to reach field goal range. After a pass from Will Rogers to Jamire Calvin to reach a first and goal, Rogers found Makai Polk crossing in the end zone for the Bulldogs’ first touchdown of the game with 1:55 left before the intermission.
Auburn didn’t stop after getting the ball back with two timeouts, as Nix found Hudson again for a big third down gainer to moved into MSU’s end. After another completion to Hudson, Nix got sacked by Nathan Pickering, and it brought up a 55-yard field goal attempt from Anders Carlson, who faded it right and missed to leave the score at 28-10 as we hit the half.
Mississippi State took the ball to begin the second half and rolled right into the red zone after a couple of big completions and a pass interference penalty on Nehemiah Pritchett. After moving inside the five, Rogers hit Jamire Calvin for a short touchdown to bookend halftime with scores and cut the Auburn lead down to 28-17 with 11:25 left in the third quarter.
The first drive of the second half for Auburn resulted in one first down, but the Tigers couldn’t convert anything after that and had to punt for the first time today. Oscar Chapman downed a huge punt at the MSU 2-yard line to back up the Bulldogs. Will Rogers again led his team down the field, converting multiple third downs to find themselves back inside the Auburn 5-yard line, where he found Dillon Johnson on a checkdown for the Bulldogs’ third straight touchdown. They went for a two-point conversion, but TD Moultry sacked Rogers to keep the score at 28-23 Auburn. The 98-yard drive for MSU pulled the Bulldogs within a possession and the Tigers needed to find something on offense.
Facing a third and long on the next drive, Nix hit Ja’Varrius Johnson for 46 yards on the post route, and Auburn was in scoring range quickly, but a misplaced throw by Nix to Robertson in the end zone led to another field goal attempt that got blocked. Rogers completed three straight passes to move deep into Auburn’s end before the end of the third quarter, and as we began the final period Auburn was hanging on by a thread leading 28-23. Four plays into the fourth quarter, Will Rogers found Makai Polk yet again for the go-ahead touchdown, but the two-point conversion failed once more and MSU led 29-28 with 13:28 to play.
Auburn had to punt after a fumble backed them up, and MSU took over leading by a point with 12:05 remaining. A 22-yard run by Dillon Johnson put the Bulldogs in the red zone yet again, with Auburn’s defense showing no signs of stopping them. Two plays later, Rogers hit Calvin for another touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 36-28, giving them 33 unanswered points.
With Bo Nix limping, Auburn was able to move out near midfield, but facing a fourth down they elected to go with a fake punt and failed. MSU took over in Tiger territory, and things didn’t change as Rogers his Jaden Walley on first down to move into the red zone again. However, Auburn’s defense stood tall with two consecutive sacks, but the second one resulted in a targeting penalty and ejection on TD Moultry on an extremely controversial play. Instead of a 3rd-and-21, MSU had a first down at the 11. Two plays later, Rogers threw his sixth touchdown of the game to put the Bulldogs up 43-28.
The ensuing drive for the Tigers showed the most hope in the second half, as they moved down the field quickly, getting a long pass from Nix to Ja’Varrius Johnson down to the goal line, and Tank Bigsby punched it in on the next play. Auburn went for two Nix was intercepted at the goal line to keep it a two-score game at 43-34 MSU. Mississippi State missed a field goal on their next drive, giving Auburn some hope, but TJ Finley checked in for the injured Bo Nix and promptly fumbled the ball at the Tiger 12-yard line. Mississippi State ran out the clock after that to finish the game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kobe Hudson and Ja’Varrius Johnson each deserve honors here, both going over 100 yards receiving and each scoring touchdowns. They were reliable targets, made great catches, and had big individual effort plays. It’s just too bad that they didn’t have a ton of help in other ways.
Auburn gets to take to the road for the final time this season as they head to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice for the second straight season. Kickoff will be at 6 pm CST/7 pm EST for the Tigers and South Carolina next Saturday night.