Auburn football: B/R correctly deems 4th quarter vs. Aggies biggest loser of the weekend

Auburn football Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn football Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports /

Bleacher Report called Auburn football’s fourth-quarter performance against the Texas A&M Aggies one of the biggest losers of the weekend.

31-20 was the final on the Plains on Saturday, and the War Eagle has made it clear already that Auburn football’s Saturday afternoon loss to the Texas A&M Aggies at Jordan-Hare Stadium was not the fault of Bo Nix:

"Nix was valiant in his 11 rushing attempts, good for the most attempts of any Tiger. Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby was limited to nine carries, but made the most of them, rushing for 76 yards and 8.4 per rush. Nix fell just shy of 50 yards (49) but found the endzone through the ground on two different occasions.Unfortunately, the Auburn defense couldn’t stop the Texas A&M offense’s marches down the field."

In the grand scheme of things, the Tigers’ loss to Texas A&M was not all that unexpected. While Auburn fans were surely hoping the season would shake out better than the current 5-4 record indicates, beating the #5 team in the country–one that has only proven incapable of beating the Alabama Crimson Tide, who quite clearly the best team in college football.

The Tide rolled again on Saturday with a dominant showing over the defending national champion LSU Tigers, but let’s focus on Alabama’s other team…our beloved but troubled Auburn football Tigers.

Early on, as Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller pointed out in his Week 14 Winners and Losers, an upset seemed not only possible but actively likely:

"For the first three quarters of its home game against No. 5 Texas A&M, Auburn was cooking up a major upset.Excluding the one-play “drive” to end the first half, the Tigers assembled four consecutive scoring drives of at least 70 yards. Bo Nix had a couple of heartbreaking misses on passes, but he also did his best Harry Houdini impression for a go-ahead rushing touchdown on one of those drives. Meanwhile, Auburn’s defense was having a solid bend-don’t-break afternoon en route to a 20-14 lead at the end of the third quarter."

Nix was engineering a fairly unthinkable upset, but things all flipped in the fourth quarter, which was deemed as one of the seven biggest losers of the weekend:

"On back-to-back plays early in the fourth quarter, the defense allowed the Aggies to convert on 3rd-and-11 followed by a touchdown that went right through the hands of a defender and into Jalen Wydermyer’s arms for a touchdown. That defender was Zakoby McClain, who had the game-changing, 100-yard pick-six in last year’s Iron Bowl against then-No. 5 Alabama. And if he had made this interception, there’s a good chance he would’ve taken it 95 yards to the house to give Auburn a 27-14 lead.Instead, Texas A&M went ahead 21-20, followed by an Auburn three-and-out."

As Miller pointed out, it only further spiraled from there:

"A&M went 77 yards for another touchdown, and Auburn punted it back three plays later. The Aggies drove down the field for a game-sealing field goal a few minutes later.During that 18-minute stretch, Texas A&M outgained Auburn 222-3 and rolled to a 31-20 victory to remain in the hunt for the College Football Playoff."

All in all, Miller was once again correct in calling out the failures of Gus Malzahn’s squad on Saturday. You truly have to wonder what it is going to take for the program to consider major changes, especially in the wake of so many transfers from the 2018 recruiting class.

Malzahn may be best suited elsewhere, or even away from the game for a bit. This Auburn football season is another in a long line of unsuccessful runs in the SEC West, and the goodwill has seemingly faded from the beginning of his tenure when the team was coming off a national championship in 2010 (of which he served as an offensive coordinator) and he brought them to the title game in 2014.

That could be a conversation for another day, but today’s conversation is disappointment. This season has not gone according to plan in the slightest, and the athletic program seems to be going through a collective lull. Maybe it is better the team didn’t come away with a bandaid win and can now assess their future with a more blunt and realistic outlook.

Regardless of how much the War Eagle wants to spin this right now, the truth of the matter is the Tigers’ fourth-quarter performance was a complete and utter loss in every way imaginable. Objectively, it’d be more fun talking about a surprise upset than another late-game collapse.

Next. Loss against Texas A&M cements disappointing season. dark