Auburn appeared to be on the wrong side of a historic upset in college football, but the Tigers fought off a great effort from Jacksonville State to win 27-20 in overtime.
“We played well enough to win,” Jacksonville State’s head coach John Grass told reporters after his FCS team came up short at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Gamecocks should have won the game. However, many were surprised that it even was a game.
“I knew we were playing a talented 1-AA team,” Gus Malzahn said.
It’s unlikely that Malzahn thought Jacksonville State had enough talent to hang 438 yards of total offense on Auburn’s defense at home. The defense struggled to defend Gamecocks’ quarterback Eli Jenkins and more surprisingly the read zone offense. The same offense that is a staple of the Malzahn offensive system.
Maybe it was facing a quarterback other than Jeremy Johnson in practice that made a difference.
Again Johnson threw terrible interceptions, this time two, and until he tied the game with a touchdown pass with 39 seconds remaining in the game, he looked like he belonged on the bench. Still, Malzahn defended Johnson after the game.
“I need to help Jeremy too,” Malzahn said. “But at the end of the game when we needed him, he made plays to help us win.”
Johnson won’t get away with another performance like that next week against LSU. Auburn has a lot of work to do.
“We faced major adversity, and we found a way to win,” Malzahn said.
Gus: Peyton Barber, he willed himself to get into the end zone
— Tom Green (@AUBlog) September 12, 2015
Peyton Barber was the real hero. He scored the game winning touchdown and finished with 125 yards and a touchdown.
Wasn't pretty but it's a W!!! Ready to get back in that action next week 2-0?! #BEATLSU
— TriggaTray (@Trigga_Tray28) September 12, 2015
He’s right it was ugly.
Safety Tray Matthews missed the near upset to Jacksonville State with a shoulder injury suffered in Week 1. Auburn will need him back along with defensive end Carl Lawson to have a remote chance of beating LSU in Death Valley next week.