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Fifth Auburn player leaves Tigers since season started

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In what’s quickly becoming a trend, Auburn has lost yet another couple of players to in-season moves.

Citing an unnamed source, Rivals.com was the first to report that Nate Craig-Myers is leaving the Tigers and will transfer out of Gus Malzahn’s football program. No specific reason for the abrupt departure of the wide receiver was given.

Despite starting all three games for the Tigers this season, Craig-Meyers had just two receptions for 39 yards. He’ll apparently finish the AU portion of his playing career with 394 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns on his 22 catches.

Craig-Meyers was a four-star member of the Tigers’ 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 receiver in the country; the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 45 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. He was the highest-rated signee on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers that recruiting cycle.

Additionally, 247Sports.com reported that Craig-Meyers’ half-brother, Jayvaughn Myers, did not attend Thursday’s practice and is leaving the team as well. The defensive back was a 2016 signee who played sparingly during his two-plus seasons on The Plains.

Head coach Gus Malzahn subsequently confirmed both of the departures.

Including Craig-Meyers and Meyers, a total of five Tigers have left the program since the start of the 2018 season. Just this week, tight end Jalen Harris took to Twitter to announce his decision to transfer. Additionally, cornerback John Broussard Jr. and punter Aidan Marshall parted ways with the team earlier this month as well.

Most, if not all of those players are taking advantage of a new NCAA rule implemented this offseason that allows them to play in up to four games in a season and still be able to take a redshirt and preserve a year of eligibility.

Late field goal completes rally as No. 12 LSU tops No. 7 Auburn

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Say what you want about Ed Orgeron but the man knows how to pull the upset off against Auburn.

No. 12 LSU made several huge plays late in a big defensive battle against the No. 7 team in the country on the Plains and used a Cole Tracy field goal as the clock hit zero to escape against their fellow Tigers with a 22-21 victory and briefly surge into the lead of the SEC West in the process.

Things started out about as well as could be for the visitors as Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham had his first pass of the game picked off in a rather uneven performance overall from one of the league’s Heisman favorites. The signal-caller did bounce back from that throw with a much better second quarter but finished the day with only 198 yards, a touchdown and an additional interception. While the outing was far from great, a lot of it had to do with his offensive line struggling to deal with the pressure from LSU, who recorded six tackles for loss, a sack and forced two turnovers.

If there was a silver-lining in the loss for the fans at Jordan-Hare though, it might be the emergence of several youngsters in a big moment against an SEC West rival. Tailback JaTarvious Whitlow led the team with 104 yards and a touchdown while fellow freshman Shaun Shivers also found the end zone. Junior Darius Slayton once again led the way at wideout (33 yards, 1 TD) but three other freshman recorded at least 30 yards in the game.

Defensively, linebacker Deshaun Davis was all over the place as usual and finished the game with 10 tackles, a sack, a pressure and a pass breakup. It helped that lineman Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson were also disruptive on just about every snap against an overmatched offensive line and came up big with several third down stops.

They couldn’t come up with a final one however.

LSU’s offense was hit-or-miss during the game but they did find magic when it was needed most on their final two drives. Quarterback Joe Burrow (249 yards, 1 TD) had a hand in his face just about every snap but gutted his way through to keep the team in it with a few late game heroics. You can start with an improbable throw over a few out-stretched arms to Derrick Dillon, who zipped across the middle and went 71 yards to the house to eject plenty of life into the visiting sideline and give the Tigers an opening.

The defense responded right away by forcing a three-and-out and then Burrow and his offense promptly mounted a 14 play, 52 yard drive that took up the final 5:38 of the game. Tailback Nick Brossette was responsible for several tough runs on his way to a 69-yard day but LSU couldn’t have kept things alive if it were not for a few defensive penalties along the way.

Eventually it was Tracy’s turn to play the hero, calmly booting a 42-yarder through the uprights to steal the win as white jerseys poured onto the field in celebration.

The result surely shakes up the SEC West and should have an effect on the polls and national title race come close of business on Saturday. While Auburn is by no means out of things with that marquee win over Washington and plenty of big game ahead, the road to another division title just got a little harder as it will likely take a prefect run the rest of the way to return them to Atlanta.

LSU, meanwhile, should move into the top 10 as they celebrate on their way back to Baton Rouge. The immediate schedule remains very manageable and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Tigers go into their key three game stretch (when Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama all come to Death Valley) undefeated and looking a lot tougher than first expected. The defense remains as good as ever under Orgeron but it’s hard not to think that Orgeron’s pursuit of Burrow in the offseason has already paid off after the second year in a row that LSU has gotten the better of their fellow Tigers on the field.

Auburn kicks their way to halftime lead on Washington in Atlanta

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You want some defensive football? You are getting it in Atlanta this afternoon. No. 9 Auburn holds a 15-13 lead on No. 6 Washington at halftime. Auburn kicker Anders Carlson has converted three field goals to help put points on the board for the Tigers.

Auburn’s defense set the tone on the first series of the game, forcing Washington to go three-and-out without picking up any yards, and the Tigers offense got to work on a short field thanks to a 32-yard punt return by Ryan Davis. Jarrett Stidham connected with Sal Cannella from 10 yards out for a touchdown thanks to an incredible effort by Canella to leap into the air to bring the ball down in the end zone.

Auburn’s Jamel Dean picked off a pass from Jake Browning on the next offensive series for the Huskies, which led to an Auburn field goal to take a 9-0 lead. It was a rough start for Washington, but it could have been worse. Washington got on the board on their next drive with a field goal.

Washington hopes to capitalize on a late momentum swing courtesy of a quick offensive touchdown drive, highlighted by a wonderful sideline catch by Ty Jones on the right sideline and followed immediately by a beautiful pass from Browning to Quinten Pounds for a touchdown.

This is still anyone’s game, and this should be a fun finish.

Alabama tops preseason Super 16 poll from FWAA and National Football Foundation

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Another day, another hour, and another top spot in a preseason poll for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama was the most popular pick for the top spot in the preseason Super 16 Poll from the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. Alabama received 36 first-place votes to stay comfortably ahead of No. 2 Clemson. The Tigers received 14 first-place votes and Georgia and Michigan State each picked up one first-place vote.

The voters certainly are leaning toward Wisconsin as the top Big Ten team. The Badgers ranked fourth overall, two spots ahead of Ohio State. If the playoff were determined by this preseason poll, Alabama would play Wisconsin and Clemson would face Georgia. Washington would be the first team out. The Huskies coming in at No. 5 likely means a good number of voters believe Washington will open the season with a win against Auburn in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game as well, and that would certainly create a playoff-or-bust season for Washington out of the gates.

One team that has received some good offseason buzz that failed to crack the Super 16 was West Virginia. A trendy pick in the Big 12 for some, the Mountaineers were the first team out of this particular preseason poll.

No Group of Five programs made the Super 16 cut, although UCF, Boise State, and San Diego State all received at least one point in the voting.

Here is how the preseason Super 16 poll breaks down:

  1. Alabama (36 first-place votes)
  2. Clemson (14)
  3. Georgia
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Washington
  6. Ohio State
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Miami
  9. Auburn
  10. Penn State
  11. Michigan State (1)
  12. Notre Dame
  13. Michigan
  14. Stanford
  15. USC
  16. TCU

In the interest of full disclosure, three College Football Talk contributors are voting members in the Super 16 Poll; myself, Bryan Fischer and Zach Barnett). The poll is made up of members of the FWAA and College Football Hall of Famers with an emphasis on geographic balance. New polls will be updated every Monday this season, with the exception of the post-Week 1 poll, which will be released on Tuesday, September 4.

Auburn expects midseason return for Will Hastings

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One of the top returning members of Auburn’s receiving corps should be primed to give that group a midseason boost, Gus Malzahn stated Thursday.

In late March, Will Hastings underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL he sustained earlier in spring practice.  At his SEC Media Days appearance, Malzahn revealed that the Tigers expect the junior wide receiver to return at some point around the middle portion of the upcoming season.

“He’s off to a very good start,” said the head coach by way of ESPN.com. “His rehab is going excellent. We’re hoping we get him back by the middle of the season.”

Last season, Hastings was third on the Tigers in receiving yards with 525 and receiving touchdowns with four, with his 26 receptions good for fourth on the team.

Auburn will be without another receiver to begin the year as well as Eli Stove is rehabbing his own torn ACL.  Malzahn gave no indication as to even a general timetable for Stove’s return.

As a sophomore in 2017, Stove caught 29 passes for 265 yards, the former total which tied him for second on the team.