Auburn Football: Putting the D Back in Against Mississippi State

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Auburn Football: Putting the D Back in Against Mississippi State
Nick Fairley was a dominant force in the Tigers' 17-14 win over Mississippi State.

Auburn's defense has been criticized for some time now.

Well, how do you like them NOW?

On Thursday night, No. 21 Auburn went into Starkville, Mississippi, to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs. It's a fact that in Thursday night games, when the home team is the underdog, they pull the upset 70 percent of the time. This had "UPSET" written all over it. MSU's crowd was crazy all night.

But the defense was crazy all night as well. After giving up 26 points and 366 yards to Arkansas State in a 52-26 win, Auburn held Mississippi State to 14 points, two turnovers, and 246 yards of total offense. Auburn survived the Bulldog trap, using the stingy defense to outlast Mississippi State 17-14 in a thriller.

Was it pretty? Not at all. Auburn themselves had 349 yards of offense, 21 first downs, and 17 points. But it was enough, as Auburn scored all 17 points in the first half, leading 17-7 at the break and putting the clamps down.

Auburn is now 2-0 (1-0 SEC) while Mississippi State falls to 1-1 (0-1). Here are my grades for this game, and my MVP awards:

Offense: B

They didn't look spectacular, but they did enough.

On the last drive of the game for Cam Newton, they took a clock with seven minutes and left two minutes. However, the result was a blocked field goal.

Still, they moved decently. They have to clean some things up for Clemson, but there should be no worry about the offense. This being the first road game for Auburn, it was a decent offensive outing.

Offensive MVP

Cameron Newton. Who else?

He went 11-19 for 136 yards, rushed 18 times for 70 yards, and caught a pass for 22 yards. He had 228 of Auburn's 349 yards on offense.

He threw his first INT as a Tiger, but showed he is a great QB by not repeating his mistake. All QBs make mistakes...the ones who don't repeat them are the great ones.

Defense: A+

They nabbed two turnovers, held MSU to 249 yards and 14 points, and stood tall on the final drive of the game.

The first TD was allowed because of Carr's muffed punt, and even with that one, Auburn almost recovered a fumble in the end zone to hold the Dawgs scoreless.

Outside of the first drive of the second half, Auburn's defense had their best performance since Chizik has taken over. They proved they could win a game themselves.

Defensive MVP

Nick Fairley. He accounted for a sack and forced two turnovers, intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble (both in the second quarter). He had pressure all night. He was the best performer of a defense that played excellently all the way around.

Special Teams: C+

A blocked field goal and a muffed punt bring the Tigers way down in this department.

Demond Washington averaged over 30 yards a return and had solid returns on all three MSU kickoffs.

Byrum went 1-of-2 on field goals, and that block near the end almost cost the Tigers. But it didn't. In addition, Shoemaker wasn't bad at all. He had a good game at punter!

Special Teams MVP

Demond Washington.

Who would think he would only return three kickoffs all night? That's a good stat. He had big returns on all three. He was a bright spot for a special teams unit that was average on the night.

Overall: A

A win is a win in the SEC. Auburn survived the game with "TRAP" all over it. The defense looked really good, and the offense is still expected to roll.

After winning in Starkville to move to 2-0, how good can these Tigers get?

Overall MVP

Nick Fairley. In the end, his two turnovers resulted in 10 Auburn points. That's a big difference.

Auburn is 2-0 now. They won in Starkville with a tough running game (198 yards rushing) and great defense. Best of wasn't 3-2.

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