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.