I’ll have a more formal preview of Auburn later on, but today I wanted to do a game-by-game look at Auburn. At the beginning of the year there was a lot of promise for the Tigers. They began the season as a top 10 team but joined Wisconsin and Miami as preseason top 10 teams that finished the year unranked and 7-5. Here is how they got there.
September 1: Auburn 21, Washington 16
It was one of the Chick-fil-a Kickoff games in Atlanta and a marquee game on the season’s opening weekend. The winner was expected to have an early leg up in the playoff chase and Auburn’s defense did a pretty good job. They gave up just one touchdown and three field goals on the day, with the TD coming just before halftime. Jarrett Stidham threw for 273 yards and a touchdown, but the Auburn defense was the story. They sacked Jake Browning five times and forced two turnovers.
September 8: Auburn 63, Alabama State 9
Not much to say here. The Tigers beat the hell out of an overmatched FCS opponent. JaTarvious Whitlow and Shaun Shivers both went over 100 yards rushing and it was 42-2 at halftime.
September 15: LSU 22, Auburn 21
A 42-yard field goal from Cole Tracy gave LSU a last second win as Auburn gave up an 8-point lead in the fourth quarter. Auburn led 21-13 at the start of the fourth quarter, but a 71-yard TD pass from Joe Burrow got LSU close. LSU missed the 2-point conversion, but got a stop and scored as time expired. Auburn did not score in the final 25 minutes of the game and Stidham was under 200 yards passing with two interceptions. Whitlow ran for 104 yards and a score.
September 22: Auburn 34. Arkansas 3
Noah Igbinoghene returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and Auburn blocked a punt to set up another score to beat a pretty bad Arkansas team. The Razorbacks were 2-10 this year, but Stidham threw for just 134 yards and Auburn had only 91 yards rushing. It was not a pretty game with only 225 yards of offense and 13 first downs.
September 29: Auburn 24, Southern Miss 13
This game featured a three-hour lightning delay. Stidham threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns and the defense forced three turnovers. Kam Martin had 90 yards rushing as well. Defensively, Auburn held Southern Miss to just 45 yards rushing, but it still struggled to pull away. Southern Miss was within a score until a field goal with two minutes left.
October 6: Mississippi State 23, Auburn 9
This was the first true road game of the season and it effectively ended any chance they had at the SEC West. Auburn managed only three field goals on 304 yards of total offense and lost two fumbles. Nick Fitzgerald and Kylin Hill combined to run for over 300 yards and two scores as the Tiger defense was gashed on the ground all day.
October 13: Tennessee 30, Auburn 24
This is probably the low point of the season, as Tennessee failed to reach a bowl game but won on the road. Stidham threw for a season high 322 yards, but was intercepted twice. Jarrett Guarantano threw for 328 yards for the Volunteers, but a total of three Tiger turnovers was the difference. The only second half score Auburn had was a TD with 37 seconds remaining.
October 20: Auburn 31, Mississippi 16
This loss started a season-ending five-game losing streak for the Rebels as they went from 5-2 to out of a bowl game. Whitlow had 170 yards rushing and Stidham had 215 yards and a TD through the air. Nick Coe also had a dominant day defensively with 3.5 sacks. This was the only road win Auburn had all season.
November 3: Auburn 28, Texas A&M 24
This was the second win over a ranked team Auburn had this season. Seth Williams caught an 11-yard TD pass from Stidham with 1:41 left to give the Tigers a 28-24 win. It was the second time in the game the two hooked up for a score. Auburn gave up 203 yards on the ground and had a pitiful day rushing with only 19 yards on 21 carries. The Aggies lost two fumbles and threw an interception, however.
November 10: Georgia 27, Auburn 10
Auburn led 7-3 after a quarter, but gave up 17 second quarter points as the Bulldogs pulled in front and kept Auburn under 300 yards of offense. D’Andrew Swift rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown on only 17 carries, including a 77 yard touchdown run. Jake Fromm also threw for 193 yards and two scores. Overall Georgia had 516 yards of offense.
November 17: Auburn 53, Liberty 0
This was complete domination. Auburn had 340 yards rushing and gave up only 134 yards and 7 first downs. The defense also forced four turnovers and a safety.
November 24: Alabama 52, Auburn 21
When Nick Saban isn’t playing Purdue he is a pretty good coach and Alabama is a pretty good team. The Tigers hung around for a half, trailing only 17-14 at halftime. The Crimson Tide then outscored them 35-7 in the final 30 minutes. Tua Tagovailoa threw for 324 yards and 5 TDs.
So that was their year. They played two conference champions (Alabama and Washington) and a division winner (Georgia), going 1-2 in such games. Against top 25 foes they were 2-3 (compared to 3-0 for Purdue). In three of their five losses they were by multiple scores. Purdue only had two multi-score losses. Purdue lost three games on the final snap while Auburn lost one (LSU).