Observations: Mississippi State 39, Auburn 33 (OT)
Serve and believe — that was the motto Cadillac Williams preached all week. And, despite being down 21 early, these makeshift Tigers nearly snatched an improbable win.
LB Cam Riley and EDGE Dylan Brooks (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Serve and believe.
That was the motto Cadillac Williams preached all week. Serve your teammates the best way you possibly can — and believe in Auburn.
It was the only way the Tigers were going to survive the most eventful game week in recent memory. They started it with Bryan Harsin has their head coach. Then Harsin was abruptly fired, along with several on- and off-field assistants.
Williams became an interim head coach for the first time in his career. He slept 10 hours max, trying to put together a game plan with a makeshift staff for a Mississippi State team that was coming off a bye week and playing back at home.
It was messy. It was chaotic. It was stressful.
And it almost worked.
“You have no idea the week that we just had — with the lack of preparation because of what went down on Monday and a couple things throughout the week that went on,” Williams said Saturday night. “We were just putting out fires everywhere.”
Williams and the Tigers had a huge, blazing fire on their hands Saturday night. After Auburn had to settle for a short field goal for its first points of the game midway through the second quarter, Mississippi State returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to go up 24-3.
Under Harsin in 2022, Auburn had blown early leads but — outside of a brief comeback effort against Ole Miss — had bad second-half performances that led to even bigger losses. There was no way these Tigers were going to rally, right?
Wrong. Auburn scored the next 22 points of the game to take the lead. Then, after Mississippi State went back up with the aid of a close call on a fourth-down catch, Auburn answered with another touchdown.
“Like, all year, the story of us was that we've gotten up and — no fight,” defensive tackle Colby Wooden said. “So for us to fight back and take them to the wire, it just shows how we got together as a team. I love these guys. I wouldn't trade them for the world.”
What happened after that was a series of gut punches. Mississippi State quickly got back into field goal range and tied the game up. A freak squib kick recovery almost gave the Bulldogs the win in regulation. Then, in overtime, Auburn’s offense couldn’t engineer anything, Anders Carlson missed a short field goal, and Mississippi State scored again to walk out with a 39-33 overtime win.
The locker room scene was an abnormal one, though. There were players who were clearly upset about the loss. A few even shed tears. But the closest thing you’ll ever see a program like Auburn come to a moral victory lifted the spirits and raised the hopes of a squad that desperately needed both.
“Those kids, they’re in there speaking the same language,” Williams said. “Those kids in there are talking about they can take this one. They fought. They served each other, and they believed.
“Now we’ve just got to get better with the discipline part of it. We did some things that, you know, will get you beat, and that’s starting with myself. So, it’s not on all these kids, man. They fought their tails off. You know, I could’ve done some things better. I really could have.”
Here are five Observations from Auburn’s wild overtime loss at Mississippi State, along with some Nerd Stats and an emotional Quote of the Night.
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