Auburn’s national-best running game had its moments but was far from the dominant show it made all season. At times, it seemed the Tigers didn’t stick with it enough.
Quarterback Nick Marshall made plays in the passing game, including two big completions on the drive that led to Auburn taking a 31-27 lead with 1:19 to play, but Auburn doesn’t win with Marshall passing the ball.
That showed on the game’s first season, when he underthrew a wide-open Ricardo Louis deep over the middle, and Louis dropped the low pass on what would have been a sure touchdown.
Until Florida State’s final drive, Auburn’s defense played arguably its best game against a good team all season. The Tigers made third-down stops and three-and-outs and limited Florida State’s big plays.
Problem was, Florida State made the big plays when it mattered most, as Rashad Greene split Auburn’s Chris Davis and Ryan Smith on a 49-yard catch and run that set up the game-winning score.
Just before the game-winning score, Davis was flagged for interference in the end zone on third down.
More than any other area, Auburn lost this game on special teams.
Normally reliable kicker Cody Parkey missed a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter. Had he hit it, the game likely would have gone to overtime.
Also, Auburn’s kickoff team whiffed on Kermit Whitfield’s 100-yard kickoff return that put the Seminoles up 27-24 with 4:42 to play.
For the first time this season, Auburn’s coaching staff didn’t stay the course with the running game at times.
The Tigers forced an incomplete deep pass on second-and-eight from the Florida State 36-yard line in the third quarter when an average run gain would have put them on schedule, down and distance wise. Auburn wound up punting.
Right before Marshall threw his fourth-quarter interception, Auburn got too cute on a jet sweep that lost 5 yards, forcing Marshall to throw on second down and 15.
Florida State made good and drove for a touchdown after the interception.
Auburn seemingly had command of this game with a 21-3 lead. Like in the Georgia game, the Tigers managed to lose that lead. This time, Auburn couldn’t muster another miracle, and the SEC’s string of national championships ends.
Still, the Tigers finish 12-2 with an SEC championship and national-runner-up finish a year after going 3-9. It’s a season that will and should go down as one of the most memorable in Auburn history, if not college football history.