Posted by Jerry Hinnen
AUBURN WON: Auburn escaped the season's first out-and-out shocker by the narrowest margin possible, scoring 14 points in the final 3:38 to stun the impressive Aggies. A Robert Turbin touchdown to put USU up 38-28 appeared to have clinched the upset, but a Barrett Trotter touchdown pass, a recovered onsides kick and Michael Dyer touchdown with 30 seconds remaining saved the Tigers from their first loss to a non-BCS school since 1991.
WHY AUBURN WON: Because as been the Tigers' hallmark under Gene Chizik, they refused to fold even in the face of what appeared to be an insurmountable deficit. In his first start as Auburn quarterback, Trotter (who finished an impressive 17-of-23 for 261 yards, three scores, and no interceptions) responded to Turbin's apparent game-ender by taking the Tigers 65 yards in just six plays--and more importantly, just 91 seconds. Cody Parkey's perfectly-executed onsides kick gave the ball right back to Auburn, and an Aggie defense that had stuffed the Tiger running game all afternoon appeared to wilt.
Auburn got the victory despite being mercilessly shoved around by the Aggies on both lines-of-scrimmage. Behind poised true freshman Chuckie Keeton and running backs Kerwynn Williams and Turbin -- who combined for 172 rushing yards -- the Aggies pounded out touchdown drives of 16, 15, 14, and 14 plays while holding Auburn to just 2.6 yards per-carry on their 30 attempts. Thanks to the Aggies' bevy of third- and fourth-and-shorts, they posted a 13-of-20 mark on third- and fourth-down conversions and ran a staggering 84 plays to Auburn's 54. Their lead was entirely earned.
But as they did throughout their run to the 2011 BCS title, the Tigers showed just enough focus and resolve -- especially at the quarterback position -- to pull their singed rear ends out of the fire.
WHEN AUBURN WON: In game this insane, not until Michael Smith was tackled at midfield to run out the clock on USU's desperation drive. But Parkey's onsides kick -- plucked out of the air by leading receiver Emory Blake -- proved to be the turning point. The Tigers didn't face so much as a third-down conversion on their game-winning touchdown drive.
WHAT AUBURN WON: The right to not be mentioned alongside college football's other historically-stunning opening-week upsets, and a "1" in the win column. But other than that, not much else; the young Tigers have major issues along both lines and in a pass defense that under Ted Roof has never seemed sure of itself against controlled short-passing attacks like USU's. There's not much time to repair, them, either, with Mississippi State waiting next week.
WHAT UTAH STATE LOST: A golden opportunity for the defining win of head coach Gary Andersen's three-year tenure. Last year the Aggies offered a serious challenge to Oklahoma but fell short and then sleepwalked through a 2-6 WAC season; Andersen will have to make sure his team doesn't let Auburn beat his team twice, so to speak.
QUICK HITS: No. 23 Auburn 42, Utah State 38
Posted on: September 3, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 4:13 pm