Smoke Monday

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No. 9 Auburn grinds out 21-16 win over No. 6 Washington, dealing Pac-12 early playoff punch

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No. 9 Auburn (1-0) managed to win a physical and defensive battle against the best the Pac-12 had to offer. The Tigers, fueled by three field goals by Anders Carlson and two key Washington turnovers took home a 21-16 victory over No. 6 Washington in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham completed 26 of 36 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Washington’s Jake Browning had a rough afternoon at times, but he did throw for 296 yards and a touchdown. Browning had one pass intercepted though, and a fumbled football in the third quarter from just outside the goal line came back to bite him and the Huskies.

Washington was primed to take a lead before the Browning fumble, but it was Washington’s defense that kept the game within reach for the entire game. Auburn could never find a true knockout blow against Washington until getting a game-winning touchdown on their last full possession of the game.

With Washington working their way to a 16-15 lead following a field goal, Stidham led the Tigers on a touchdown drive traveling 76 yards over 10 plays. JaTarvious Whitlow finished the drive with a 10-yard run, putting the pressure on Washington to find their way back to the end zone. Washington’s last chance on offense ended on a fourth down with 16 yards to go with Browning being sacked by Smoke Monday.

Much will be made about how this severely damages the Pac-12’s chances of getting a College Football Playoff representative at the end of the season, and it is understandable why that would be. Washington may have needed this win more than Auburn might, given the current standings of the SEC and Pac-12. The margin for error in the Pac-12 has been pretty thin the last few seasons, and a win against a top 10 team essentially on the road would have been a nice feather in the cap for the Huskies. But it’s just one game, and the entire college football season still pretty much has to be played. But Washington may not be able to afford another loss the rest of the season, where Auburn now has one of the top wins of the very early season.

Both Auburn and Washington will play their home openers next week against FCS competition. Auburn will host Alabama State, and Washington plays host to North Dakota.