Auburn has the Southeastern Conference’s best rushing offense, and Florida Atlantic ranks only 86th in rushing defense. Even so, the Tigers went above and beyond by gaining 422 yards on the ground.
Once again, it’s amazing how much tougher Auburn is up front than a year ago.
Backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson got plenty of work again, as Nick Marshall went out early in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. Johnson threw for 192 yards.
Auburn allowed a touchdown but it came after the Tigers had built a 38-0 lead.
If we want to be picky, we could point out Auburn had only one sack, which was by Dee Ford, and the Tigers forced only one turnover.
But on a night like this, Auburn’s defense gave up only a touchdown and a field goal and allowed FAU to get only 10 first downs. In fact, that matches the Owls’ punts for the night — 10.
Steven Clark buried all three of his punts inside the 20-yard line. Cody Parkey made a 43-yard field goal but missed a rare one from 40 yards at the end of the first half.
Of Parkey’s eight kickoffs, five went for touchbacks.
Chris Davis provided the biggest Auburn special teams highlight with his 70-yard punt return.
Maybe the best move by Auburn’s coaches was to keep Marshall on the sideline as a precautionary move. There was no sense in risking him again in this one.
Auburn kept the ball on the ground, which was smart, too. Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn usually gets tagged with the over-used “offensive genius” label, and whenever a coach is referred to as that, it usually is because he likes to pass. Malzahn, actually, seems to base his offense on a strong running game. He proved that again Saturday.
Auburn now has seven wins, which is probably more than most predicted the Tigers would get all season. That starts with the coaches, who truly have found a way to erase last year’s spirit-breaking season.
A year ago, Auburn would’ve struggled against Florida Atlantic, and Alabama fans would’ve laughed and laughed.
Now, Tide supporters still are laughing, but it’s a little more nervous laughter than it used to be.
Arkansas is next on the road, and not a lot of reason to think the Razorbacks, who are 3-5, can rebound and beat Auburn.