No. 3 Auburn entered Week 11 as the nation’s top-ranked one-loss team and had a clear path to a spot at the College Football Playoff table. Exiting it, they may very well have put themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
A stirring second-half rally fell just short for the Tigers, with an 18-point first-half deficit proving too much to overcome as AU fell to Texas A&M 41-38 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Aggies’ offense could muster just two second-half field goals, but that proved to be enough.
The Tigers entered the fourth quarter still down by 14, but a pair of touchdowns helped close the gap to three. With under three minutes remaining in the contest, AU was driving for what would’ve been the go-ahead touchdown before a botched exchange between quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Cameron Artis-Payne was recovered — after a replay review — by the Aggies at the A&M three-yard line.
Auburn had one last chance after forcing a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, taking over at the A&M 42-yard line with 1:28 remaining. After getting into field-goal range, All-American center Reese Dismukes snapped the ball to an unsuspecting Marshall as A&M recovered with :54 seconds remaining.
True freshman quarterback Kyle Allen tossed four touchdowns, all in the first half, as the unranked Aggies pulled off one of the biggest and most landscape-shifting upsets of the season.
With the loss, AU drops to 4-2 in SEC play and finds itself needing some significant help in the chase for the SEC West title. Mississippi State sits atop the division at 5-0, while Alabama, pending its game against LSU Saturday night, is right behind at 4-1. The Bulldogs and Tide square off next weekend, while the Tigers get their in-state rivals in the regular-season finale.
Even if Auburn takes care of business in the Iron Bowl, provided they take care of business against No. 20 Georgia next week, AU would need Mississippi State to lose at least two of its three remaining games — Alabama, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss — just to get into what could very well be a three-way tie.
As for the AU and the College Football Playoff? It would take some serious and significant upheaval for the Tigers to sniff one of the four playoff spots. That’s how damaging this loss was for The Plainsmen, who apparently used up their allotment of late-game magic in its run to the 2013 BCS title game.