When Cam Newton emerged from the pile of bodies in the endzone, he placed two hands on his chest and feigned ripping his jersey open, Superman-style.
If the giant “S” logo had actually appeared, no one at Jordan-Hare Stadium would have been surprised.
Newton was not as overwhelming as in previous performances, but was every bit as ebullient as his Auburn Tigers (2010) steamrolled Vanderbilt (2008) 38-0.
The Tigers were almost unstoppable in the run game, grinding up the Commodore defense and averaging 6.4 yards per carry for 331 yards on the day.
“Our offensive line was just outstanding today,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik, “We controlled the line of scrimmage all game, which paid off with 38 points.”
Michael Dyer led the way with 136 yards, one of four Plainsmen with 50 yards rushing or more. Mario Fannin had two scores on the ground, with Newton depositing one of his own to end the day’s scoring.
“We really invested a lot into the run game today,” said Newton while flashing a million-dollar smile after the game. “My dad always tells me to believe in the hustle, and the o-line and running backs really took that to heart.”
Newton only attempted 14 passes on the afternoon, but with the rushing attack striking gold so often, 107 yards was enough. He tallied a 6 yard score to Philip Lutzenkirchen on the afternoon, but also threw one interception.
For every way the home team profited in the game, the visiting Commodores seemed to struggle.
“We knew coming in that the play of the front seven would be crucial, but the plays just did not get made,” said Vandy coach Bobby Johnson. “We came out flat and it cost us big time.”
The Commodores’ leading rusher Jared Hawkins was unable to get traction, only gaining 64 yards on 17 attempts. As a team, Vandy mustered just 2.5 yards per carry. Mackenzi Adams managed 155 yards through the air, but could never direct his team into the endzone.
The Tigers started early, receiving the opening kickoff and traversed 70 yards in just over two minutes to collect a 7-0 lead. The only play on that drive not gaining over 10 yards was Dyer’s two-yard touchdown plunge.
The defense held on Vanderbilt’s first drive, and Auburn never looked back. The lead would have been greater if not for two missed field goals from the normally automatic Wes Byrum.
“I hated not cashing those two in,” said Byrum. “Luckily, we didn’t need them, so it’s good to get misses out of the system and not cost the team too much.”
The Tigers barely noticed on a day where their opponent ran zero plays in the red zone.
The Tigers are off to the second round, awaiting the winner of Georgia (2002) and Missouri (2007).
“I’m very familiar with Coach Pinkel’s team from my time in the… actually, forget I said anything,” said Chizik after the game. “Whoever we end up facing the next game, I certainly hope our team is as money as they were today.”