Nov 26, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama wide receiver Traeshon Holden (11) breaks away from Auburn defenders including Auburn safety Zion Puckett (10) and Auburn defensive lineman Marcus Harris (50) on his way to a touchdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Alabama rolls past Auburn behind Bryce Young’s 4 TDs

Behind four touchdowns from quarterback Bryce Young, host No. 7 Alabama kept its College Football Playoff hopes alive with a 49-27 win over rival Auburn on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Young passed for 343 yards and threw three touchdowns in the first half. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner also added 48 yards and a score on the ground in the opening half.

Jermaine Burton, Ja’Corey Brooks and Traeshon Holden had touchdown receptions for the Crimson Tide (10-2). Jahmyr Gibbs had a team-high 76 yards rushing and a score. Roydell Williams also added a scoring run. Jase McClellan had a rushing and receiving score.

Quarterback Robby Ashford had a touchdown pass to Ja’Varrius Johnson and tallied 121 yards and two rushing scores for the Tigers. Tailback Jarquez Hunter recorded a team-high 134 rushing yards.

It was the first time in Auburn (5-7) history that two runners rushed for a 100 yards or more in three consecutive games.

The Tigers jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 24-yard touchdown run by Ashford. But Alabama responded when Young scored on a 5-yard run with 6:25 to go in the opening quarter. A 52-yard reception by Burton sparked the Crimson Tide’s response.

Alabama grabbed a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter when Young connected with McClellan on a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Following a fumble by Hunter in Auburn territory, Alabama went up 21-7 one play into the second quarter when Williams found the end zone from 5 yards out.

The Tigers cut the lead to 21-14 when Ashford connected with Johnson in the corner of the end zone on a beautifully thrown 20-yard wheel route.

But Alabama answered with an eight-play, 92-yard scoring drive, which was capped by a 33-yard touchdown reception by Brooks.

A 27-yard touchdown reception by Holden increased the Crimson Tide’s lead to 35-14 with less than a minute to go until halftime following a muffed punt by Keionte Scott.

After a 2-yard scoring run by McClellan on Alabama’s first drive to open the third quarter, Auburn responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive to trim the lead to 42-21.

Two fourth quarter field goals by Auburn kicker Alex McPherson and a 24-yard run by Gibbs capped the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA;  Liberty Flames head coach Hugh Freeze looks on against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons before the game at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Auburn, Hugh Freeze in talks on coaching job

Liberty’s Hugh Freeze has held talks with Auburn officials about becoming the school’s next football coach, ESPN reported on Saturday.

Per the report, the Tigers are not expected to make a formal offer until after Saturday’s game against Alabama.

Freeze and Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin reportedly were being considered for the job at Auburn, however the latter said earlier this week that he intended to stay with the Rebels. Kiffin then told ESPN on Saturday that he has agreed to an extension with Ole Miss.

Auburn is attempting to fill its coaching vacancy since firing Bryan Harsin on Oct. 31.

Freeze, 53, previously coached one season at Arkansas State (2011) and five seasons at Ole Miss (2012-16). His overall record is 83-42 (.664), including a 6-2 record in bowl games.

He was dismissed from Ole Miss prior to the 2017 campaign after it was discovered he made inappropriate calls from his school-issued cellphone.

Freeze became the coach at Liberty in 2019 and has amassed a 34-14 mark in four seasons with the school, including a 3-0 record in bowl games. The Flames enter Saturday with an 8-3 in 2022 heading into their home game Saturday against New Mexico State.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Robby Ashford (9) shows a pass during the second quarter against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn running game, defense subdue Western Kentucky

Auburn pulled away from visiting Western Kentucky 41-17 on Saturday behind four total touchdowns by Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter, and a strong defensive effort

Bigsby had a team-high 110 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including a 35-yard scoring burst in the second half.

Hunter had 13 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown in addition to his second-quarter touchdown pass to Koy Moore for the Tigers (5-6).

Moore caught his first touchdown pass of the season. Robby Ashford passed for 102 yards and added 37 yards on the ground.

Western Kentucky quarterback Austin Reed threw for 290 yards, including 222 yards and two touchdown passes to Joshua Simon in the first half. Auburn’s defense limited him to just 68 yards through the air in the second half and forced two interceptions.

Malachi Corley led the Hilltoppers (7-5) with a team-high 12 catches for 99 yards. Jaylen Hall added eight catches for 84 yards. Simon had 49 yards receiving.

Auburn held a 10-0 advantage after a quarter behind a 1-yard scoring run by Bigsby and a 51-yard field goal by Alex McPherson.

The Hilltoppers trimmed the Tigers’ lead to 10-3 less than five minutes into the second quarter when Brayden Narveson nailed a 27-yard field goal. Narveson missed a 50-yarder on the game’s opening drive.

Auburn pushed the lead to 17-3 with an impressive seven-play, 66-yard drive, which was capped by a halfback-toss-and-pass from Hunter to Moore with 7:21 left until halftime.

Western Kentucky cut the lead to seven when Reed connected with Simon for a 22-yard scoring strike with 4:35 to go in the half.

The Hilltoppers tied the game at 17 all when Reed connected with Simon on a well-executed screen pass with six seconds to go until halftime.

McPherson added a 28-yard field goal halfway through the third quarter to put the Tigers up 20-17. Bigsby’s 35-yard run increased Auburn’s lead to 27-17 late in the third quarter.

A Hunter 40-yard scoring run and a 27-yard pick-six by D.J. James in the fourth quarter increased Auburn’s lead to 41-17 and ended any chances of a Western Kentucky comeback.

–Field Level Media

Auburn running backs coach Cadillac Williams during warm-ups before the A-Day spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

Auburn, Texas A&M meet in matchup of struggling traditional powers

Cadillac Williams, a former Auburn standout running back, will serve as interim head coach for the first time at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night when the Tigers host Texas A&M in a game of two struggling traditional powers.

Both teams are 3-6 overall and 1-5 in the SEC and on five-game losing streaks.

Williams, who took over for Bryan Harsin after he was fired last week, has worked as an assistant at his alma mater since the 2019 season.

Auburn is coming off a 39-33 loss in overtime at Mississippi State in Williams’ debut as the interim head coach. The Tigers erased a 21-point deficit in the first half to get back into the game.

“I’m going to hold it together,” Williams said when asked about walking into Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. “You can’t make this up. Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to feel.

“I do know I have a job to do, to get this team ready to play and get these guys prepared and lead these guys.”

Auburn also lost five straight games to end the 2021 season, putting Harsin on the hot seat from the start of this season.

Texas A&M, projected by media to finish second in the SEC West, has lost five straight games for the first time since 1980.

“There is (a lot left to the season). Our kids see it,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We’ll play hard. We’ll practice hard. We’ve been doing that.

“Like I say, play these last three games … Auburn is a tough place to play, (and then) come back for UMass and LSU — two home games for these seniors. Play our tails off. The character of these guys, they’ll play, I know that. We’ve just got to do a better job for them.”

The offenses for Auburn and Texas A&M rank in the lower half of the SEC.

Auburn is relying on freshman Robby Ashford to lead its offense. He has completed 98 of 195 passes for 1,374 yards and five touchdowns, with five interceptions.

Texas A&M has used three quarterbacks this season — Haynes King, Max Johnson and Conner Weigman.

King — 104 of 187 for 1,220 yards and seven TDs with six interceptions — is getting most of the snaps.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Auburn Tigers linebacker Owen Pappoe (0) sacks Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) on the opening play at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

KJ Jefferson, Arkansas end run of futility vs. Auburn

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to lead the Razorbacks to a 41-27 victory over host Auburn in a Southeastern Conference game on Saturday.

Raheim Sanders rushed for a game-high 171 yards on just 16 carries and Rashod Dubinion added two short touchdown runs for Arkansas (5-3, 2-3 SEC), which ended a six-game losing streak to Auburn (3-5, 1-4).

Jefferson went 16-for-24 passing for 234 yards with no interceptions and added scoring runs of 1 and 13 yards to finish with 45 yards on 10 carries.

Matt Landers had four catches for a game-high 115 yards, and Jadon Haselwood finished with five receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown.

Arkansas outgained Auburn 520-468.

Robby Ashford went 24-for-33 passing for 285 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He also rushed for a team-high 87 yards on 19 carries for the Tigers, who have lost four straight games.

Tank Bigsby added 63 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, on 11 carries. He also had a team-high six receptions for 37 yards.

Leading 17-13 at halftime, Jefferson found Haselwood over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown to give the Razorbacks a 24-13 lead with 6:02 left in the third quarter.

The Razorbacks effectively put the game away on their next possession. Dubinion’s 2-yard run capped a seven-play, 94-yard drive to extend the lead to 31-13 with 44 seconds left in the third quarter.

Dubinion’s second 2-yard touchdown run made it 38-13 with 7:35 remaining, before Ashford threw a 9-yard scoring strike to Camden Brown to cut it to 38-20 with 5:28 left.

Cam Little’s 37-yard field goal made it 41-20, before Jarquez Hunter’s 1-yard touchdown run for Auburn provided the final margin with four seconds remaining.

After Auburn took a 3-0 lead on Anders Carlson’s 46-yard field goal midway through the first quarter, the Razorbacks took the lead for good on their ensuing drive.

Jefferson capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:10 left in the first quarter. His 13-yard scoring run pushed the lead to 14-3 with 10:27 left in the first half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) is tackled by Auburn Tigers safety Donovan Kaufman (1) during the first quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Ole Miss runs past Auburn 48-34

Quinshon Judkins, Zach Evans and Jaxson Dart each rushed for over 100 yards as No. 9 Ole Miss beat Auburn 48-34 on Saturday in Southeastern Conference play at Oxford, Miss.

In defeating Auburn at home for the first time since 2012, with one victory later vacated, the Rebels led 21-0 but saw the Tigers make it a one-score game three times in the second half.

Judkins ran for 139 yards on 25 carries with two TDs on the ground and one receiving for Ole Miss (7-0, 3-0 SEC), while Evans notched 136 yards on 21 attempts with a rushing and receiving score.

Dart went 9 of 19 for 130 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, while also rushing for 115 yards on 14 carries. Dayton Wade caught a TD pass for the Rebels.

Ole Miss rushed for 448 yards on 69 carries and totaled 578 yards of offense.

Tank Bigsby carried 20 times for 179 yards and two scores for Auburn (3-4, 1-3), while quarterback Robby Ashford was 8 of 17 for 140 yards and two interceptions. He rushed for 35 yards and two TDs.

On its third series, Ole Miss was set up when safety A.J. Finley made a diving interception of Ashford. Dart then found Wade from 35 yards out for a TD and a 7-0 lead with 6:42 remaining in the opening quarter. Dart pushed it to 14-0 when he hit Evans for 23 yards with 2:43 remaining in the first quarter.

Following three ineffective series, Auburn replaced Ashford with T.J. Finley, who hadn’t played since Sept. 17 with a shoulder sprain. Early in the second quarter, a fumble recovery by defensive end Jared Ivey on a sack of Finley, in the quarterback’s only series, led to Evans’ 3-yard run and a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Auburn answered with a pair of 2-yard scoring runs from Ashford and Bigsby to trim the deficit to 21-14 in the second quarter. Judkins’ 7-yard catch for Ole Miss and Anders Carlson’s 42-yard field goal for Auburn had the Rebels up 28-17 at halftime.

After Bigsby’s 50-yard TD run early in the second half got Auburn to within 28-24, Jonathan Cruz booted a 23-yard field goal for a 31-24 edge. Following a successful onside kick, the Rebels cashed in on the extra possession with Judkins’ 5-yard run for a 38-24 lead.

Ashford’s second TD cut it to 38-31, but Cruz (42 yards) and Carlson (28) traded field goals as Ole Miss led 41-34.

Judkins’ 41-yard burst with 6:26 remaining provided the final margin, but Ole Miss had to wait out a nearly hour-long weather delay to snap its six-game losing streak in the series.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Daijun Edwards (30) runs against Auburn Tigers safety Zion Puckett (10) during the first quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Georgia easily runs over Auburn, 42-10

Daijun Edwards ran for three touchdowns and the formidable defense of No. 2 Georgia swarmed visiting Auburn in a 42-10 Southeastern Conference victory Saturday afternoon in Athens, Ga.

Stetson Bennett completed 22 of 32 passes for 208 yards and scored on a 64-yard quarterback draw on the first play of the fourth quarter as Georgia (6-0, 3-0 SEC) beat Auburn (3-3, 1-2) for the fifth straight time.

Edwards carried 12 times for 83 yards and Branson Robinson added 98 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries as the Bulldogs piled up 292 yards on the ground.

Georgia, which entered Saturday ranked No. 4 in scoring defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision, limited Auburn to 258 yards and 10 first downs. The Bulldogs harassed Tigers quarterback Robby Ashford into a 13-of-38 performance for 165 yards.

Auburn’s lone touchdown came with 9:51 left as Jarquez Hunter took a short pass from Ashford, spun away from three defenders and raced up the Georgia sideline on a play that covered 62 yards.

After a scoreless first quarter, Georgia’s punt return unit helped set up a pair of touchdowns.

When the Tigers tried a run from punt formation on a fourth-and-6, the Bulldogs’ Nolan Smith stuffed John Samuel for a 2-yard gain as Georgia took possession at the Auburn 36.

Seven plays later, Kenny McIntosh swept left end on a 1-yard touchdown carry to put the Bulldogs up 7-0.

After Georgia forced a three and out, Ladd McConkey returned a punt 38 yards to give the Bulldogs a first down at the Tigers’ 31. Robinson’s 22-yard run then helped set up a 1-yard scoring carry by Edwards.

On the opening possession of the second half, Auburn’s Colby Wooden poked the ball from the grasp of Bennett and recovered at the Georgia 19 to set up a 29-yard field goal by Anders Carlson.

But the Bulldogs answered with an 81-yard drive, which was triggered by five straight Bennett completions that produced 65 yards and set up a 2-yard touchdown carry by Edwards which put Georgia up 21-3.

In the fourth quarter, Georgia scored on three straight possessions to turn the game into a rout.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Brian Kelly during warmups before the game against the New Mexico Lobos at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

LSU tries to keep streak rolling with road test at Auburn

Brian Kelly is a month into his first season as LSU’s head coach as he prepares his team for its first conference road game.

LSU (3-1, 1-0) has won three games in a row as it prepares to visit Auburn (3-1, 1-0) Saturday night in the first of six straight games against SEC competition.

“This first month was kind of like, let’s put this together.” Kelly said. “Now we have to apply it to the SEC. That’s a step up. The next month will be good and bad days. We’re going to get hit in the mouth.”

LSU lost its season opener against Florida State, then sandwiched nonconference wins against outmanned opponents (Southern and New Mexico) around a 31-16 home win against Mississippi State in the conference opener.

Kelly said quarterback Jayden Daniels has no ill effects from a lower back strain that knocked him out of the New Mexico game last Saturday.

Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said he’s looking for his quarterback, Robby Ashford, to build off his first start in a 17-14 overtime win against Missouri in the SEC opener last Saturday.

Ashford filled in for TJ Finley, who suffered a shoulder injury, and completed 12 of 18 for 127 yards and ran 15 times for 46 yards and a touchdown against Missouri.

Harsin said Finley will practice ahead of the LSU game.

“I think Robby managed things well,” Harsin said. “I think he made some good decisions and we took care of the football. He utilized his legs and he made some good throws at times. Overall, his demeanor, his attitude, his approach were real good.”

Auburn narrowly escaped an upset against Missouri when the Tigers missed a 26-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter. Auburn kicked a field goal on the first possession of overtime, then a Missouri fumble landed in the end zone for a touchback to end play.

The Auburn offense is second-to-last in the SEC in yards per game (376.8), 12th in passing yards per game (202.8) and 10th in rushing yards per game (174).

“There’s plenty to improve on (offensively),” Harsin said. “If we can get some of the pass game, run game balance going that’ll help us.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Auburn Tigers linebacker Derick Hall (29) returns an interception as Missouri Tigers offensive lineman Javon Foster (76) goes for the tackle during the first quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn survives Missouri in overtime win

Anders Carlson kicked a 39-yard field goal and the Auburn defense recovered a fumble in the end zone as the Tigers opened Southeastern Conference play with a 17-14 overtime win over Missouri in Auburn, Ala. Saturday afternoon.

Carlson connected after missing from 44 yards when Missouri jumped offside. Then Missouri’s Nathaniel Peat headed for the end zone, fumbled at the 1 and it was recovered by Auburn’s Cayden Bridges.

The play was ruled a touchback, reviewed and Auburn was awarded the win.

With quarterback T.J. Finley (shoulder) sidelined, dual-threat freshman Robby Ashford got his first career start and rushed for 46 yards and a score for Auburn (3-1, 1-0). He was 12 of 18 for 127 yards.

Tank Bigsby had 44 rushing yards and a score, and Koy Moore caught four passes for 74 yards.

For Missouri (2-2, 0-1), quarterback Brady Cook was 14-for-24 for 179 yards with an interception.

Peat rushed for 110 yards on 20 carries. Dominic Lovett caught five passes for 102 yards.

The matchup was the first one for Missouri at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium since joining the SEC in 2012.

On its first series, Auburn gambled successfully on two fourth-down conversions to keep the drive alive. Following the second one, Ashford found the end zone on an 11-yard quarterback draw for a 7-0 lead at 6:01.

Derick Hall’s grab of a deflected Cook pass — Auburn’s first interception of 2022 — set up Bigsby’s three-yard TD run after the Ashford-led offense ran on its first 16 snaps of the fourth meeting between the schools.

Transfer Cody Schrader, who led Division II with 2,074 rushing yards last season at Truman State, took an option pitch nine yards to get Missouri on the board in the second quarter.

On fourth down, Cook tied it at 14 in the half’s last minute with a sneak.

Carlson had two chances for Auburn on the half’s last play — from 50 (offsides) and 45 yards — but was wide on both attempts.

Missouri’s Harrison Mevis missed a game-winning 26-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers head coach Eliah Drinkwitz talks with wide receiver Dominic Lovett (7) during the second half against the Abilene Christian Wildcats at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Similar storylines for Auburn, Missouri entering SEC opener

More than just the name of their mascots, host Auburn and visiting Missouri have a lot in-common as they clash in the Southeastern Conference opener for both schools Saturday.

Both teams finished 3-5 in SEC play last season, and both teams started 2-1 this season.

Also, both teams have suffered lopsided losses this season: Auburn fell 41-12 at home to Penn State while Missouri lost 40-12 at Kansas State.

So, this game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. is critical to the fortunes of both teams.

And there is this: Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz worked under Auburn coach Bryan Harsin at Arkansas State and Boise State, and considers him a mentor.

“You know Coach Harsin gave me an opportunity and believed in me when not very many other people did and really kept me in college football in 2013,” Drinkwitz said Tuesday. “And so, I’m very appreciative to him for that and will always be indebted to him.”

Auburn’s offensive line suffered multiple breakdowns against the Nittany Lions last Saturday while allowing six sacks and nine quarterback hurries.

“We didn’t play up to our standard to what I thought we were capable of doing,” Harsin said Monday. “Some of that was us, some of that was Penn State. Sometimes you get in a one-on-one match-up and you just get whooped. That is fundamental correction you have to make. We’ll let the guys compete on the O-line to get the best five out there.”

The quarterback position also remains a competition. T. J. Finley completed 11-of-19 passes for 152 yards, no touchdowns and an interception against Penn State, while Robby Ashford completed 10-of-19 passes for 144 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Missouri used its tune-up game against FCS foe Abilene Christian last Saturday to get its offense on track.

Quarterback Brady Cook completed 21-of-30 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns in the 34-17 victory. He added 42 yards rushing on six carries.

Receiver Dominic Lovett caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Lovett has 16 catches for 274 yards in three games after making 26 receptions for 173 yards all of last season.

“Incredible. Just a playmaker,” Cook said of Lovett. “I’ve said this a million times. It’s like beating a dead horse. But just get the ball to him and he makes crazy plays. Obviously, he’s a huge weapon.”

Like Auburn, Missouri will come into this game seeking much better offensive line play. With starting left guard Xavier Delgado sidelined by injury, Missouri took five holding penalties. Delgado is questionable and Drinkwitz, citing 13 offensive line penalties in three weeks, said job competition remains open.

–Field Level Media