Auburn Tigers vs Kansas State Wildcats: Keys to Victory

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Sep 6, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Cameron Artis-Payne (44) runs a touchdown a while defended by San Jose State Spartans defensive tackle Adrian Blake (91) during the second quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Keep the Foot on the Pedal

Taking an early lead is one thing. Keeping it is something entirely different.

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Last season, there were two prime examples of Auburn taking a big lead early in a game, only to squander it late. Once, against the Georgia Bulldogs, the Tigers were able to recover and win the game. The other, against Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game, the Tigers came up 13 seconds short.

With the theme of the off-season for Gus Malzahn’s Tigers focusing on those final 13 seconds in Pasadena, chances are Auburn will be hungry to finish off an opponent when they get the chance. It’s worked well so far as Auburn holds 45-3 scoring edge in the second half in each of the first two ballgames this season.

Continuing that trend this week in the Little Apple is paramount. Playing on the road against a quality opponent with a passionate fan base is always a challenge. In the last 25 years, K-State has won 80% of their games at home, so the program has had a great home field advantage. The later the game gets, the more that advantage grows. If the score is close in the fourth quarter, the Tigers will be in trouble.

With a late fourth quarter scoring drive against Iowa State to cap a dramatic come from behind win, the Wildcats showed last week they have what it takes to win in the fourth quarter. The Cyclones scored 28 consecutive points in the first half and could have put the game beyond reach, but instead Iowa State was shut out across the final two quarters and allowed K-State to stay in the game.

Plus, the Wildcats showed the ability to score quickly when they needed it. In the final minutes of the first half, quarterback Jake Waters led a touchdown drive to cut the Cyclones’ lead to eight at halftime. Then, with 1:30 remaining in the game, Waters found the end zone on a game-winning quarterback keeper.

The Cyclones let K-State and Waters hang around, and they paid the price.

Therefore, Auburn must keep the foot on the pedal, even if the Tigers jump out to an early lead. If Nick Marshall, Cameron Artis-Payne, D’haquille Williams and company score 28 points in the first half, the goal should be 28 more in the second.