Auburn sent a message to its fellow SEC teams Saturday night with its 63-9 win over visiting Alabama State.
The Tigers are ready to defend their SEC West crown.
The offense, defense and special teams largely performed masterfully Saturday and start the conference schedule next week. The No. 7-ranked Tigers will host LSU on Sept. 15 and Arkansas on Sept. 22.
Auburn (2-0) gained 429 yards on the ground, led by redshirt freshman running back JaTarvious Whitlow’s 122 yards, and junior quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw for 113 yards to lead the Tigers on offense.
On defense, junior cornerback Daniel Thomas picked off two Darryl Pearson Jr. passes, returning one 29 yards for a touchdown near the end of the first quarter.
And on special teams, Auburn’s Jordyn Peters blocked a punt with 7:42 remaining in the first half at the Alabama State 22, which Devan Barrett scooped and returned for the Tigers’ fifth touchdown of the half.
Auburn added another touchdown to end the first half with a 42-2 lead.
Alabama State (1-1) couldn’t muster much offense against Auburn’s defense, which stopped the Hornets on three-and-out series five times.
A trio of quarterbacks - Pearson, KHA’Darris Davis and Dakota Rocker - combined to throw for 158 yards. And the running game was nearly nonexistent, with the Hornets gaining 47 yards on the ground.
Alabama State scored just twice, both times on an Auburn mistake. The Hornets got a safety with 4:43 left in the first half when backup quarterback Malik Willis was downed in the end zone, and then a touchdown after Auburn’s Griffin King fumbled at his team’s 16-yard line. A 29-yard pass play three plays later from Davis to Joe Williams IV resulted in a touchdown to make the score 49-9.
Auburn added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Despite the dominance of the Tigers, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn undoubtedly will work on one thing this week: ball security. The Tigers fumbled four times, recovering none.
—Field Level Media