Of all the disappointing stats to come out of Auburn’s season opener against Clemson in the Georgia Dome last Saturday, the most depressing of all is “0-1.”
That, as you probably figured out, is Auburn’s record heading into their game in Starkville this Saturday. As has been common in recent history, Auburn’s defense struggled against Clemson. In the absence of standout receiver Sammy Watkins, Clemson’s #2 receiver, Deandre Watkins, managed to break a school record for receptions in a single game with 13 going for 119 yards, including a game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Clemson running back Andre Ellington, a 1,000 yard rusher last year, tore through Auburn’s defense, putting up a whopping 228 yards on 25 carries. Clemson Quarterback Taj Boyd was 24/34 with 208 yards and a touchdown. The bright spot for Auburn’s defense was a nice tip ball interception by senior captain Daren Bates. The interception led to an Auburn field goal.
Offensively, Auburn looked, to put it lightly, lethargic. Sophomore QB Kiehl Frazier was 11/27 for 194 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His touchdown was his best throw of the day, a 54 yard floater to a wide open Emory Blake. After that, Frazier struggled to put the ball on target. Blake led the team in receiving, racking up 109 yards on just four catches. The positive for the offense was the performance of running back Tre Mason. Mason compiled 106 yards on 14 carries, and had one fumble.
If the Tigers hope to get their first victory in Starkville Saturday, they’ve got their work cut out for them. The bulldogs came out on top of Jackson State 56-9 in their season opener Saturday, a less worthy opponent than Clemson, but still a good showing for Mullen and the Bulldogs.
In recent history, MSU has played Auburn very well. Last year, it took a goal line stand in the final seconds for the Tigers to walk away victorious. Even in 2010, with Cam Newton holding the reigns, Auburn left Starkville with only a three point victory.
After last Saturday, Auburn is vulnerable, and it would be a huge win for Dan Mullen. The Tigers definitely cannot afford to look past the Bulldogs.