Six minutes into their battle with SEC West rival Mississippi State and it appeared that Gus Malzahn was ready to quiet all those critics of No. 7 Auburn’s offense the past few weeks. 30 minutes in and the head coach seemed to leave no doubt.
The Tigers scored on their first play from scrimmage and never looked back in an early blitz to take a 42-9 lead over the Bulldogs into halftime during a game where they literally ran MSU’s mascot out of the stadium in the first quarter.
The initial touchdown for the home squad at Jordan-Hare came via a sprint from 30 yards out by JaTarvious Whitlow (55 total yards and three total scores) but that would be far from the only big play out of Auburn’s offense. Wideout Anthony Schwartz notched another TD on the ground off a sweep play and quarterback Bo Nix dove into the end zone for six too as everything seemed to click against a normally salty Bulldogs defense.
Nix even showcased some surprising efficiency as a passer in going 10-of-14 for 189 yards and a touchdown pass (almost all that to Seth Williams, who had the score and 129 yards on seven catches).
Things could have gotten even more out of hand had, bizarrely, State’s quarterback not gotten knocked out the game. That would be Tommy Stevens, who was injured in the first quarter and was replaced for the second game in a row by Garrett Shrader. The latter was actually able to move the ball however and finished with 99 yards and a TD passing while rushing for a team-high 44 as well. His ability to take off on keepers allowed a few more running lanes for tailback Kylin Hill (35 yards), who faced a stacked box nearly every touch when Stevens was in the game.
While there might be a few fans on the Plains a little concerned with the way their normally stout defense was giving up a few long drives in the second quarter, things were otherwise peachy for Malzahn’s side as they look to put away another big win ahead of their showdown at Florida next week.