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Auburn collapse leads to 43-34 loss against Mississippi State

Auburn’s loss last week to Texas A&M was really disappointing. With that being said, a loss to a talented team on the road happens even to good teams with some regularity.

What happened today versus Mississippi State is devastating for this Tiger football team. Blowing a 25-point lead at home to a team that has already lost four football games this year is virtually unprecedented.

Auburn got off to an incredible start at home versus the Bulldogs. The offense, which had struggled mightily over the last game and a half, scored a quick touchdown on the first drive and seemingly set the tone for the game.

The Tigers would go on the add three more scores and put up 28 first half points, largely off of big plays in the passing game.

At the same time, the Auburn defense held Mississippi State to three points until the Bulldogs’ final drive of the first half. The visitors did manage to score what seemed to be a meaningless touchdown to make it 28-10 at halftime.

Then the second half happened. There is no explanation to rationalize the second half that saw Mississippi State outscore Auburn 33-6 in the second half at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn was unable to even mildly inconvenience Mississippi State in the final two quarters, while simultaneously becoming incapable of stringing together offensive drives.

Credit Mississippi State for righting the ship and rallying to an outstanding win, but Auburn has some serious soul searching to do after today’s collapse.

Take a look at the two things that lead to Mississippi State’s 25-point comeback win today against Auburn.

Auburn can’t run the football

Entering this game, Auburn was 12th in the SEC for rushing yards per game against conference opponents. That is clearly not very good since there are only 14 teams in the SEC.

The Tigers have only found consistent success on the ground in SEC play this year against Ole Miss. Every other conference contest has seen Auburn get shut down completely, or be rescued by quarterback Bo Nix’s ability to run.

Today, Auburn got off to a great start in the passing game, so it did not appear that it would matter that the rushing game has struggled.

However, what would have been really nice for the Tigers today would have been the ability to drain the clock while ahead by 25 points.

Auburn’s inability to run the ball in the third quarter meant that the Tigers kept quickly giving the ball back to Mississippi State and putting the defense on the field without very much rest.

Then, Bo Nix made a really good throw under pressure in the fourth quarter but took a hit on his leg. It was clear that Nix was a bit hobbled and would be no threat to run. That weakened Auburn’s rushing threat to practically nothing.

If Auburn cannot find a solution to the current rushing problem, then there are probably no more wins on the Tigers’ schedule this season.

Will Rogers

Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers is the SEC’s leading passer. So, it should not surprise anyone if he plays well against any team.

However, in the second half today, Auburn allowed Rogers to be almost perfect. Technically he was 24 for 25 on his pass attempts in the second half. But since those passes went for over 270 yards and five touchdowns, I will go ahead and round it up to an even 100%.

The Tigers defense may as well have not even been on the field for the final two quarters.

Once again, Rogers had to make the throws. Completing 24 out of 25 passes is difficult to do in practice with no one else out there. However, the Auburn defense did nothing in the second half.

Auburn chose to repeatedly rush only three players. When the Tigers do this, they know that it is likely there will not be much pressure on the quarterback. The thought process would be that there are now eight defenders to cover five offensive players.

Instead, what Auburn got was no pass rush and receivers getting open due to the amount of time that defenders had to cover, which is a really bad combination.

The lack of offensive production added to the complete collapse of the defense led to Mississippi State outscoring Auburn 40-6 over the final 34 minutes of gameplay.

Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers.

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