Four years after the fact, No. 10 Auburn didn’t need another prayer at Jordan-Hare to beat rival Georgia.
They probably caused a few to be said on the other sideline though, as the Tigers capitalized on numerous mistakes to throttle the top-ranked Bulldogs 40-17 on a lovely Saturday afternoon in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and shake up the College Football Playoff race in the process.
No. 1 Georgia looked like they were ready to roll in the game after an impressive touchdown-scoring drive on their opening possession, but things spiraled out of control in a hurry not long afterward. Gus Malzahn’s crew dominated the final three quarters to take control of the contest and in the process rolled over the SEC East leader with a balanced offensive effort.
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham had perhaps his best outing in an Auburn uniform, looking sharp through the air (214 yards, three touchdowns) while also protecting the ball and not turning it over. He formed quite the combo in the Tigers’ backfield with stud tailback Kerryon Johnson, who outplayed his highly touted counterparts in UGA uniforms to the tune of 167 rushing yards on a whopping 32 carry day while also adding a 55 yard touchdown reception to boot.
More than anything the combo took advantage of big mistakes by their rivals from across the border to seal the victory in the second half. The Bulldogs muffed a punt early in the third quarter, which Stidham converted into a touchdown run on an easy keeper. Following a big defensive stop and long kick return on the next series, he then found Ryan Davis for a nifty 32 yard scoring pass to put the score out of reach.
The effort was also remarkable for how well Auburn played on defense, recording four sacks and limiting the dynamic duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to under 50 yards rushing on a day where every inch was hard to come by. Chubb did wind up passing Bo Jackson on the SEC career rushing yards list early in the first quarter but that feat was quickly forgotten about as the team suffered their first loss of the season in blowout fashion.
Young freshman quarterback Jake Fromm also struggled with all the pressure in his face, throwing for only 184 yards (with one TD pass) and being forced to throw the ball away constantly as the offense converted only three of 14 third downs.
The outcome in the game should result in an interesting set of rankings on Tuesday from the College Football Playoff committee. The Bulldogs are still ticketed to Atlanta for the SEC championship game but will assuredly slip from the top spot in the polls and could fall behind fellow one-loss teams like Clemson and the winner of the TCU-Oklahoma game later on. Auburn remains in control of their destiny too, as the Iron Bowl against No. 2 Alabama will be for the division title and possibly a playoff spot as well.
Stakes haven’t been this high for the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry in years and both No. 1 Georgia and No. 10 Auburn are putting together an effort worthy of the big stage on Saturday by staging a pretty good first half of football on the Plains. In a game with serious College Football Playoff implications on both sides, it was the Tigers who managed to grab the edge at the midway mark though as they took a 16-7 lead into the locker room of the closely fought contest.
That margin could have been even larger for Gus Malzahn’s team if they were able to convert some long drives from field goals into touchdowns. Still, given the front seven they were facing off against, they’ll take it at this point as Kerryon Johnson powered his way to a 76 yard rushing effort. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham provided a nice balance to the offensive attack with his arm too in throwing for 125 yards to seven different receivers, none with a better catch than Darius Slayton‘s 42 yard touchdown with just over four minutes left in the second quarter.
Going into halftime without the lead is a different situation than Georgia is used to this season and comes as a surprise after they marched right down the field on their opening possession to cap off an eight-play, 70 yard touchdown drive. Young signal-caller Jake Fromm has been solid in his biggest test of the year but managed 86 yards through the air on just four completions. The Bulldogs’ terrific backfield tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb were both kept in check to the tune of only 39 yards on the ground but the latter did pass legendary Auburn tailback Bo Jackson for fourth place on the SEC career rushing list in the first quarter.
As Tigers fans with a memory of what happened in their game against LSU will tell you, this one is far from over for both teams. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a heavyweight fight in the SEC between top 10 teams and the second half should cap off quite the rivalry game given how both sides played through the first two quarters.
The odds are pretty good that No. 14 Auburn (7-2, 4-1 SEC) is not going to find a way into the College Football Playoff, but after a dominating performance on the road against Texas A&M (5-4, 3-3 SEC), one should not sleep on the Tigers potentially giving Georgia and Alabama a fight in the regular season later this month. Kerryon Johnson stepped up in the running game and Jarrett Stidham passed for three touchdowns in a 42-27 victory over the Aggies in Kyle Field on Saturday afternoon.
Texas A&M pulled a quarterback switch along the way. With Kellen Mond struggling (5/11, 16 yards), Nick Starkel got a chance to relieve him and try to rejuvenate the offense, and he did to a degree. Starkel completed 11 of 22 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. But it was too little too late as the Aggies were already down too much and unable to slow down Auburn on offense.
After a sluggish start, Auburn came alive in the second quarter with three touchdowns to take a 21-13 lead into the halftime break. The Tigers continued to push forward with an overpowering offense with two more touchdowns in the third quarter to create some separation with the Aggies. The win by Auburn keeps a bizarre trend alive in this series. Since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012, the road team has won six straight games in this series.
November has not been kind to Texas A&M in recent years, and it would appear things are once again in danger of trending in the wrong direction in November with this loss. And because of that, the discussion about the job security for Kevin Sumlin will once again come into question. The Aggies have now lost back-to-back games by double-digit margins to Mississippi State and Auburn. And the way things are going in Gainesville, you will not win many points for a 19-17 victory over Florida. It was not so long ago that Texas A&M was 4-1, marred by an ugly collapse on the road against UCLA in the season opener. Sumlin needs a strong finish with the Aggies to put some of the hot seat talk to rest.
Next up for Auburn is a big one. The Tigers will host No. 1 Georgia next Saturday, November 11. For Auburn to play in the SEC Championship Game, beating Alabama will be essential as the Tigers trail their in-state rivals by one game in the loss column already with two games to play. But before any scenarios with Alabama can be explored, Auburn must find a way to take down the Bulldogs next week. It is certainly no easy task for any team needing wins against Georgia and Alabama this season, but the Tigers playing at home in each makes for an interesting final three weeks in the SEC.
Texas A&M will play their final home game of the season next week against UNLV. After that, the schedule wraps up with back-to-back SEC road games against Ole Miss and LSU. The way things have been going, next week’s game against the Rebels may be a must-win game for Texas A&M to get to the postseason.
The 2017 season is quickly turning into a lost one for Kamryn Pettway.
Suspended for the opener, Pettway returned but missed games in Week 4 and 6 because of injury. In the October 21 win over Arkansas, Gus Malzahn announced Tuesday, Pettway suffered what was ultimately diagnosed as a fractured scapula.
While the injury, which was discovered the Friday before the bye this past weekend, won’t require surgery to repair, the head coach said the running back would be out for an extended period of time. No specific timeline for a return was given.
AU has four games remaining in the regular season — at Texas A&M (Nov. 4), Georgia (Nov. 11), Louisiana-Monroe (Nov. 18) and the Iron Bowl against Alabama (Nov. 25).
Last season, Pettway led the Tigers with 1,224 yards. He has 305 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, with both totals second on the team to Kerryon Johnson‘s 723 and 14. The rushing touchdowns are tops in the SEC and tied for second nationally with Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, with FAU’s Devin Singletary leading all FBS players with 18.
It’s been nearly two decades since Auburn won in Baton Rouge and the visiting Tigers are making sure they reverse their fortune early on in their annual meeting with LSU on Saturday afternoon, jumping out to a 23-14 halftime lead and not really looking back.
Gus Malzahn’s crew scored on their first four drives of the game, knocking home a long field goal to kick off the scoring and then really seizing control when quarterback Jarrett Stidham found a wide open Will Hastings for a 49 yard touchdown. The Auburn signal-caller finished the half with an impressive 159 yards on just seven completions on a day where there was no much resistance from the LSU defense.
That wasn’t all the Tigers from Alabama were able to do on offense however, as Kerryon Johnson scored his FBS-leading 13th rushing touchdown of the season and was already up to 116 yards on the ground as well. In short, not much could go wrong when Auburn had the ball.
The same could not be said for their opposite numbers. LSU failed to get much of anything going until the second quarter when they busted open a jet sweep that went for 70 yards by Russell Gage. The receiver added a touchdown just before the end of the half on an incredible diving effort while teammate Stephen Sullivan scored off a jet sweep on 4th and goal two drives prior for the team’s only points.
It’s been a point of emphasis this week to note that Auburn hasn’t won at Death Valley since 1999 and let’s just say that the best opportunity the team has had for a victory is certainly looking like it after a half of play on Saturday afternoon.