Auburn used a big-play offense to pull away from Mississippi State with a 49-10 victory Saturday.
The team came through with six plays of 45 yards or more to move the football, which, combined with a shutdown defense, was enough for the easy conference win.
The Tigers move to 4-1 with the victory and 2-0 in the SEC while the Bulldogs fell to 3-2 with a second straight conference loss.
While Auburn's offense had been inconsistent this season, it was running smoothly in this one. Jarrett Stidham was 13-of-16 for 264 yards and two touchdowns, showing he could make a significant impact with few throws.
Kerryon Johnson shouldered a heavy load, following up his five-touchdown effort from last week with 116 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Matthew Coca of CBS Sports made a bold statement about the offense:
Matthew Coca @MatthewCocaCBS
If Auburn had a healthy Kerryon Johnson and the offense moved like this... they would have beaten Clemson by two scores.2017-10-1 00:13:24
While the game wasn't necessarily filled with long, sustained drives, Auburn did take advantage of a few huge plays that either got into the end zone or set up scores.
Bob Carskadon of HailState.com described the difference early on:
Bob Carskadon @bobcarskadon
At present, Auburn has 108 yards on two plays, 37 yards on the other 13. MSU, meanwhile, averaging 2.8 yards per play.2017-9-30 22:44:21
Bob Carskadon @bobcarskadon
Touchdown, Auburn. This one goes for 47 yards. Tigers are killing MSU with big plays.2017-9-30 22:58:37
Eli Stove got in on the action in the second half to help fuel a seven-play, 99-yard drive:
Auburn Football @AuburnFootball
The stove is hot! 🔥🔥🔥 Eli Stove hauls in a 57-yard pass from @Jarrett_Stidham and then runs around the end for 30 yards! #WarEagle https://t.co/VlXLJjSKjI2017-10-1 00:07:05
These plays helped the Tigers go up 21-3 early and 21-10 at halftime. The squad continued to pile it on in the second half with a few more 40-yard bombs to help pull away.
By the time Javaris Davis picked off Nick Fitzgerald and ran it back 37 yards for a touchdown, the home team was up 42-10. A 67-yard run from backup quarterback Malik Willis capped the rout.
Meanwhile, the Tigers defense refused to allow Mississippi State back in the game with some one-sided play:
Barrett Sallee @BarrettSallee
Auburn's defensive line flat out dominating Mississippi State up front.2017-9-30 22:57:18
Lauren Shute @LShute13
Hey, have I mentioned Auburn's defense is unreal. https://t.co/Puq5hUgweW2017-10-1 00:36:46
Fitzgerald finished the game 13-of-33 for 157 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, adding only 56 yards on the ground. Aeris Williams couldn't do much more while totaling 49 yards on 15 carries.
The Bulldogs actually had more first downs than Auburn (18-14) but managed to go just 7-of-21 on third downs and 2-of-6 on fourth downs.
As Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com noted, the Tigers are the only team in the country that hasn't allowed more than 14 points in a game this season. When the offense also plays as it did in this game, this will be a difficult team to beat.
Jim Dunaway of WIAT CBS broke down the difference between the two coaches:
Jim Dunaway @jimdunaway
Auburn’s Gus Malzahn is about to be 16-1 at Jordan-Hare when in AP Poll. Dan Mullen is now 2-15 in ranked vs ranked games #MSUvsAUB2017-10-1 00:51:35
After facing three top-15 teams in a row during a brutal stretch, things get much easier for Mississippi State. The team is off next week and will follow it up with a home game against BYU, which fell to 1-4 with its fourth straight loss Friday.
Auburn will try to keep up its strong run through the SEC with a home game against Mississippi next Saturday.