Auburn football: TJ Finley to debut as starter vs. USC for second straight year

Auburn football had a devastating weekend for more reasons than one. The Tigers gave up 40 unanswered points and blew a 28-3 lead in a mindboggling loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs at home, but it gets worse. Third-year starting quarterback Bo Nix suffered a broken ankle and placekicker Anders Carlson tore his ACL in the game, effectively ending both of their seasons.

The Tigers only have two games left on the regular-season schedule, but suddenly a team that was barreling towards the SEC Championship is hoping to end the season with an 8-4 record. With Nix out for the rest of the season, the starting role now rests on the shoulders of LSU transfer T.J. Finley heading into the South Carolina-Auburn football matchup.

Surprisingly enough, T.J. Finley has been in this position before. The sophomore quarterback played backup to Myles Brennan and Max Johnson last season at LSU and earned his first start for the Bayou Bengals in their home matchup versus South Carolina on October 24, 2020. Now, in 2021, he’ll get his first start against the Gamecocks yet again.

Finley led LSU to a resounding 52-24 victory over South Carolina last season, completing 17 of 21 pass attempts for 265 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 24 yards and an additional touchdown. In Finley’s most significant appearance for Auburn football so far–versus Georgia State–he completed nine of 16 passes for 97 yards and one touchdown.

While the Tigers will certainly have to dial it up in other areas like the run game and the defense, Finley’s performance could make or break the game for Auburn football. It’s time for Bryan Harsin’s team to buckle down and play for themselves in order to secure the last two wins of the 2021 season.