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Prince Tega Wanogho is second Auburn player to put NFL on hold, return to Tigers for another season

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One of the best names in college football will back for one more college football season.

Over the weekend, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown announced via Instagram that he would be returning to The Plains for another season.  A day later, and on the same social media site, a teammate on the other side of the line, Prince Tega Wanogho, confirmed that he too will be eschewing an early leap into the April draft and returning to the Tigers for his senior season.

After starting seven games as a redshirt sophomore in 2017, Wanogho started all 13 games at left tackle this past season.

While two key components will return next season, the Tigers did lose three big pieces to early entry into the draft over the last month: starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham (HERE), receiving yards leader Darius Slayton (HERE) and starting defensive back Jamel Dean (HERE).

Auburn dominates first B1G-SEC bowl matchup in historic rout of Purdue

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The good news for the Big Ten?  They still have three more matchups with the SEC this postseason, and they couldn’t possibly go worse than this one. Right?

It was a record-setting first two quarters of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl for Auburn (8-5) as they took a 56-7 lead on overmatched and overwhelmed Purdue (6-7) into the halftime locker room.  After scoring on all seven of its first-half offensive possessions (if you take away a kneel down to end the second quarter), the Tigers scored on its first possession of the second half as well before throwing it in cruise control and easing its way to a 63-14 win over the Boilermakers.

To put a finer point on the dominance, the Tigers didn’t punt the ball until there were just over three minutes left in the third quarter.  That punt came after Gus Malzahn, in the head coach’s first game since reassuming the play-calling duties, commenced to removing a handful of starters on both sides of the ball.

With the 63 points, Auburn broke the SEC bowl scoring record previously held by rival Alabama in its 61-6 win over Syracuse in the 1953 Orange Bowl.  The Tigers had already broken the Music City Bowl record for points in a game, previously the 49 by West Virginia in the 2000 game, with its 56 first-half points that also broke the FBS postseason record for two quarters of play.

Auburn had the chance to tie the record for points in a bowl game, but opted to kneel twice inside the five-yard line with less than a minute remaining in the game.  That means West Virginia’s record of 70 put up in the 2012 Orange Bowl rout of Clemson remains the postseason points standard.

In the last game of Jarrett Stidham‘s collegiate career — he announced earlier this month that he is leaving The Plains early for the NFL — the quarterback put on quite the show in just two-and-a-half quarters worth of work, throwing for 373 yards and five touchdowns in the rout.  He’s just the third player in AU history with five touchdown passes in a single game, joining Chris Todd in 2009 and Daniel Cobb in 2001, but the first to do so in a bowl.

Not surprisingly, Stidham was named as the Music City Bowl Player of the Game.

Darius Slayton caught three of Stidham’s touchdown passes for 160 yards, all of which came in the first half.  The yardage broke the old school record of 159 by Herbert Casey in the 1990 Peach Bowl.

With two rushing and one receiving (all in the first half), JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow is the first Tiger football player to score three touchdowns in a bowl game.

In a losing effort, All-American true freshman Rondale Moore, who came into the game leading the FBS in receptions with 103, added 11 more catches for 94 yards.

The Big Ten and SEC will square off three more times over the next four days: the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (Florida-Michigan, Dec. 29), the Outback Bowl (Mississippi State-Iowa, New Year’s Day) and the VRBO Citrus Bowl (Kentucky-Penn State, New Year’s Day).

With Auburn’s win, the SEC is now an even 1-1 in the 2018-19 bowl season with nine more games remaining.  The Big Ten suffered its first defeat of the postseason and is 2-1 with six games left on its bowl schedule.

Auburn scores on first seven possessions, adds pick-six in blowing doors off Purdue at halftime of Music City Bowl

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At least for the first two quarters, Tyler Trent‘s special kind of inspirational magic hasn’t traveled well from West Lafayette to Nashville.  At all.

Thanks to a startling, historic offensive outburst and a stifling defensive effort throughout, Auburn has taken a dominating 56-7 lead on Purdue into halftime of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Saturday afternoon.  This marked the first time in more than two years that head coach Gus Malzahn, who is either on the hot seat or he’s not, called the offensive plays during a game, and the impact was immediate as the Tigers scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions en route to 398 yards of first-half offense.

 JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow set the tone early on as, on Auburn’s first offensive possession, the running back took a wheel route from Jarrett Stidham on third-and-one and turned it into a 66-yard touchdown just a little over a minute into the postseason contest.  That was the first of three Whitlow touchdowns in the first half, the second coming on a two-yard run in the middle of the first quarter to push the Tigers’ lead to 14-0 and a third two minutes later, following a David Blough interception, from a yard out to make it a 21-0 game.

After a Rondale Moore touchdown pulled the Boilermakers to within 14 at 21-7, Stidham hit Darius Slayton on a 74-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing possession to push the lead back out to 21 with just under three minutes left in the first quarter.  Stidham would finish the half with 335 yards and four touchdown tosses on 13-of-18 passing, while Slayton added another touchdown catch early in the second quarter, this one from 52 yards out on a second-and-18 screen pass, that stretched Auburn’s advantage to 35-7.  Slayton then added a third touchdown catch with two minutes left in the half.

Stidham’s first-half quarterback rating, incidentally, was an astronomical 301.8.

A second Blough interception was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Big Kat Bryant three minutes into the second quarter to push the Boilermakers further into the abyss at 42-7.  Blough finished the half 18-of-28 passing for 142 yards and the two picks for a rating of 92.6.  The Boilermakers’ offense as a whole managed just 180 yards and were 3-9 on third downs (and 1-3 on fourth downs).

Just once this season did Auburn score more points in an entire game than they did in the first half today — 63-9 over FCS Alabama State in early September.  AU’s high-water mark against an SEC team in 2018 came in a 34-3 win over Arkansas Sept. 22 as they came into the game today 102nd nationally averaging 28.3 points per game.

The 56 points also breaks the Music City Bowl record for points set by West Virginia against Ole Miss in a 49-38 win in the 2000 game.  It also breaks the old FBS record of 49 points in a half in any bowl game (West Virginia vs. Clemson, 2012 Orange Bowl).

Colorado State the landing spot for Auburn transfer Nate Craig-Myers

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For the second time today, a former Auburn football player has found a new college football home.

Late Wednesday morning, Miami confirmed that running back Asa Martin has been added to the Hurricanes’ roster.  A couple of hours earlier, Colorado State announced that one of Martin’s former teammates, Nate Craig-Myers, has transferred into the Rams football program.

Head coach Gus Malzahn had confirmed in mid-September of this year that the wide receiver had decided to transfer from Auburn.

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

Craig-Myers 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‘s composite board. He was the highest-rated signee on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers that recruiting cycle.

It’s believed there’s a possibility that Craig-Myers will be eligible to play immediately in 2019 for the Rams.  If that ends up being the case, the receiver will also have another year of eligibility he can use in 2020 thanks to the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, with the three games in which he played this year not costing him a season of eligibility as would’ve been the case in the past.

If he’s not able to obtain a waiver for immediate eligibility, Craig-Myers would then have one season he can use in 2020 after sitting out 2019.

On same day he inks NLI, Auburn signee undergoes ACL surgery

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Talk about your bittersweet days.

After verballing to Auburn in late May, Luke Deal fulfilled that commitment by putting his Herbie Hancock on a National Letter of Intent with AU Wednesday morning.  Even as the football program was confirming the addition…

… media outlets like 247 and Brandon Marcello were subsequently reporting that Deal will be undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL on the same day he signed his NLI.  According to Marcello, Deal, who arrived on AU’s campus this past Sunday, was participating in a bowl practice with his future teammates earlier this week when he blew out his left knee in what was described by the website as a “freak deal.”

Deal was expected to enroll early at the university in January, which he will still do, and participate in spring practice, which he won’t.  Because of the injury, he’s now expected to be sidelined when it comes to most football-related activities until summer camp kicks off next August.

A three-star 2019 signee, Deal was rated as the No. 22 tight end in the country and the No. 6 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.  In addition to Auburn, Deal also held offers from, among others, Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State.  He had taken official visits to the latter three schools the month prior to committing to the Tigers.