Observations: Auburn 17, Missouri 14 (OT)
Bryan Harsin's Tigers were close to another extremely ugly loss — twice! — but somehow came out with a win in one of the most insane Jordan-Hare Stadium games ever.
(Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Auburn fans: Take everything you felt during this game. Take all of your frustration, your rage, your doubt and your despair.
All of what you felt Saturday was valid. Just because Auburn came out on the winning end of a mind-boggling football game doesn’t mean those feelings should go away or even fade.
Auburn’s 17-14 overtime win over Missouri on Saturday felt like it was the closest a football team has ever come to losing and still winning — twice.
The Tigers have won games before on missed field goals, like multiple Iron Bowls inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. They’ve also won a game on a fumble just outside the goal line of what would’ve been a game-winning touchdown for the opponent. (That would be the 2014 win at Ole Miss, which featured a gruesome season-ending injury for Laquon Treadwell.)
But to get both of those fortunate breaks, both with no time left on the clock?
And for those breaks to be even more unlikely than usual — a 26-yard field goal missed at the end of regulation and a running back just dropping the football outside of the end zone in overtime?
“It’s crazy,” linebacker Owen Pappoe said. “I have never won a game like that. I have never even seen somebody try to reach out and the ball just drop right at the inch line. It’s a game of inches. It’s a testament to the fact that you’ve got to play to the very end.”
And what about a dropped interception in overtime by the opponent, followed by an offsides call on a missed field goal that gave you yet another chance at taking the lead?
“That’s what happens in this stadium,” said Anders Carlson, the beneficiary of the second shot at what would end up being the game-winning field goal.
And that’s why, perhaps more than ever, this game felt like a case of the opponent losing instead of Auburn winning. Sure, there were positive moments from the Tigers, who scored touchdowns on their first two offensive drives and played winning defense for most of the contest. Bryan Harsin and his team have every right to celebrate that win.
Yet none of those Missouri errors in the wild ending take away the fact that Auburn had just 217 yards of total offense and averaged just 3.29 yards per play. It doesn’t wipe away the rough offensive line play that surrendered four sacks and 12 tackles for loss to a defense that only had three TFLs and zero sacks against an FCS team last week. It doesn’t erase the bad second quarter on defense and the damaging explosive plays that Auburn allowed — even though, again, the defense played a lot of winning football.
“The execution part of it, we'll go back and look at that,” Harsin said. “We know that's always a message that we're going to have from me and our coaches. Everybody in that room, the execution — we're going to have to figure out, you know, how we do those things better.”
It’s a win. It’s 3-1 and 1-0 in the record book.
But it’s also survival. It’s live to fight another game for a program that continues to regress on the field. It’s treading water. It’s purgatory.
Still, we can attempt to make some sense of it. Here are three big Observations from Auburn’s 17-14 overtime win over Missouri, along with Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Day.
WR Shedrick Jackson (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
The offense was much worse, and it started up front
With Robby Ashford getting the start in place of the injured T.J. Finley, it was obvious that Auburn would go to a run-heavy game plan. On the first drive of the game, the Tigers didn’t attempt a single pass — although Ashford scrambled a few times — for a 14-play, 59-yard touchdown drive that took nearly half the time off the clock in the first quarter.
Tank Bigsby carried the ball 19 times, and he exceeded his 9-carry mark from the Penn State game in the opening period alone. But he averaged just 2.3 yards per carry against Missouri. Jarquez Hunter averaged 1.9 yards per carry. Damari Alston had just one yard on his lone touch of the game.
Take out the sacks from the Penn State game, and Auburn averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Take out the sacks from the Missouri game, and Auburn averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Designed runs for Ashford didn’t work, either. Against a Missouri run defense that was underwhelming for most of the 2021 season and got ran all over in a blowout loss to Kansas State two weeks ago, Auburn lost big on the ground.