If Auburn’s 56-3 victory over Arkansas was a game of Mortal Combat, it would be considered a flawless victory.
I thought the Razorbacks would come into Jordan-Hare Stadium and make it a game Saturday night, but then they disrespected the midfield logo and naturally the Tigers took them to the woodshed, taking the phrase “bringing home the bacon” to an entirely new level.
It was the best game we’ve seen Auburn football play in years, and here are five things that stood out most.
Auburn’s defense proves its worth
I wanted to see Auburn’s defense show up against a top-25 team, and I think its performance exceeded everyone’s expectations and then some.
With complete balance on both sides of the ball, I can finally say with confidence that the Tigers are for real.
*Knocks on wood*
Auburn’s defensive line wreaked havoc on Austin Allen all game long, forcing the SEC’s passing leader into one of the worst games of his young career (17 for 30, 187 yards, 1 INT, 4 sacks). Running back Rawleigh Williams, who came into Saturday’s game as the conference’s leading rusher, averaged a season-low 1.7 yards per carry against the Tigers.
Auburn’s defense only allowed three third down conversions, turned the Razorbacks over twice and held them to 215 yards of total offense. A defense can’t play much better than that (unless it’s Alabama we’re talking about, of course).
Kevin Steele wasn’t concerned about this group heading into Saturday night’s game, and now I see why. I’m a believer now — these guys are elite.
Auburn football: Shades of 2013
I don’t know what Auburn has been feeding its athletes in that Wellness Kitchen lately, but its playmakers are out here running wild, and that once embarrassment of an offense now is a well-oiled machine capable of steam-rolling just about anyone.
I mean, come on — 632 yards of total offense with Sean White only completing six passes? I would say it’s unheard of, but this team has put up video game numbers on the ground like this in the past under Gus Malzahn.
However, Saturday’s performance has to be the most impressive considering the Tigers’ personnel and all the issues Auburn had to face offensively after sputtering out of the gate.
Through four weeks, Malzahn was praying for a big play or two. Now, guys are making plays all over the place. Auburn’s youngsters continue to make a huge impact, and suddenly it seems like there aren’t enough snaps to go around.
That’s the type of issue only elite offensive teams have to deal with, and a problem Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee are happy to have.
Fearless and Tru(itt)
Stanton Truitt has absolutely thrived since making the switch from receiver to tailback. Ryan Davis, Eli Stove, Nate Craig-Myers and Kam Martin — Auburn’s younger skill players — all had solid games, but Truitt’s play Saturday was outstanding.
Against the Razorbacks, I was impressed with the sophomore’s versatility, and at one point, it felt like he was going to score every time he touched the football. His state line — 123 all-purpose yards, a 9.8 yards per carry average and three touchdowns — is no easy task, but Truitt made it look like a jog down Heisman drive.
Auburn has a bright future at its skill positions, and the Tigers just discovered another weapon.
No Johnson? No Problem
27 carries. 192 yards. Two touchdowns. Kamryn Pettway is a beast.
My two 1,000-rushers prediction is in danger with Kerryon Johnson still recovering from a nagging ankle energy, but Auburn nation can rest easy knowing that with Pettway on the field, the ground game won’t miss a beat. And in some ways, it’s more potent.
Again, a great problem to have.
All of the sudden, the Ole Miss Rebels aren’t looking too rebellious.
In their defense, the Rebels’ schedule has been brutal, but it’s evident that these two teams are trending in opposite directions. However, just like Steele said, Ole Miss’ record is no indication of how talented they are offensively.
Chad Kelly is capable of beating a team by himself when he’s in a rhythm, so Auburn’s defense will have get after it on the road. It’ll be a tough game, and the Tigers may be entering Week 9 as underdogs, but I won’t be betting against this team for the remainder of the season.