Auburn Demolishes the Boilermakers! (Grading Auburn’s 63-14 victory over Purdue)
T’was a rough day for Purdue
(Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
War Eagle everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign Report on an electrifying Auburn Music City Bowl victory! The Tigers blazed out to a 56–7 halftime lead, and had to work hard to keep from scoring much, in the second half in a 63–14 rout over Purdue. A number of team, and even national, records were set in this game by Auburn. The most stunning record was 56 points in the first half. No team anywhere had scored 56 in a half in the entire history of bowls in this country.
Defensively, the name of the game was to contain Purdue superstar Rondale Moore and make the rest of the offense try to pick up the slack. Moore got some yards but no big breakaway plays. Moore finished with 11 receptions for 94 yards and 3 carries for 10 yards and a single score. The rest of the Purdue offense managed only 1 touchdown on a late quarterback draw against Auburn’s reserve defenders. The Auburn pass rush was good with 6 quarterback hurries and 3 sacks as well as a couple of interceptions. One of the interceptions was batted at the line by Tyrone Truesdale right into the hands of Big Kat Bryant, who spun and ran it in for a touchdown.
Auburn’s offense finally put all of the pieces together in this bowl game. A much maligned offensive line gelled and protected perfectly. Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham was not sacked, and Purdue was credited with just 1 quarterback hurry the whole game. The Boilermakers seemed intent on limiting Auburn’s running game and only used a couple of defensive coverage schemes. It was usually clear what look they were in before the snap. This was easy pickings for Jarrett Stidham. The receivers did their part, as well. Not a single pass was dropped on the day, and Auburn receivers ran wild on the Boilermaker defense.
Auburn had a slight edge on special teams, mostly thanks to a 10-yard edge in the punting department. However, Auburn was only forced to punt 1 time in the game. Purdue punted 6 times and really never flipped the field. Both kickers made all of their extra points and were not called on for field goal tries. Coverage units for both teams stifled return men.
Unit grades after the jump!
Defensive Line: A-. There were just a few errors in this game, such as lining up offsides once and a few run-fit miscues. However, this line really punished the Purdue offense. The line was limited to 13 total tackles, but that was due to Purdue mostly being forced to pass, thanks to the lopsided score. When Purdue did run it, it was limited to 2.9 yards per carry.
Linebackers: B+. The linebackers contributed 18 tackles, including 1 for a loss. The stats don’t really show it, but these guys were instrumental in forcing plays to the sideline where the secondary finished off runs and short passes.
Secondary: A. Purdue completed only 1 throw that gained over 16 yards and was not able to get into the end zone through the air. The Auburn secondary contributed 27 tackles. Purdue only managed 4.8 yards per pass.
Punting: A. Auburn only punted once. Arryn Siposs boomed it 49 yards right to Rondale Moore, who ran around some but only managed 7 yards.
Punt Returns: C+. On the positive side, there were no turnovers and no dropped punts. On 6 Purdue punts, 2 were downed inside the Auburn 20, 2 were fair caught, and Ryan Davis had 1 return for 4 yards. Not a great day, but at least this unit did not cost the team anything.
Kick Returns: C-. Auburn only had 1 chance for a return, and Noah Igbinoghene took it 18 yards out to the 26-yard line.
Place Kicking: B. I counted off a letter grade for 1 kickoff out of 10 going out of bounds. Anders Carlson had 4 touchbacks, much lower than his usual average of 72 percent touchbacks. I think this was by design, though. I think Auburn coaches wanted the ball placed near the goal line, and the coverage unit was able to make the stop short of the 25-yard line every time.
Offensive Line: A. I would have liked to have seen Auburn be more overpowering in the run game, but again part of that was by design. Purdue was really stacking the box, and Auburn was using lots of wideouts. It’s tough to run when you have more defenders than blockers in the play. This line has really come a long way and did not allow a sack against the Boilermakers. Auburn managed 4.0 yards per rush.
Running Backs: B. Chandler Cox had a good day blocking for the most part, and Kam Martin was the most consistent at getting positive yardage, leading all rushers with 11 carries for 58 yards. Auburn backs didn’t rush for a ton of yards, but they did not have any ball security issues, either. Again, the formations Auburn used were crafted for the passing game, and Auburn wasn’t going to dominate on the ground against a Big Ten team without using both tight ends and fullbacks.
Receivers: A. I really can’t find much to complain about here. For the first time all season, this unit caught everything that was thrown to it, and made the Purdue secondary look slow. Purdue was trying to double Ryan Davis, and prevent Auburn from working the ball down the field on screens to Davis. However, it had no answer for Darius Slayton, who scored every time he caught the ball.
Quarterback: A. The 2017 Stidham was back. He lit Purdue up in this game, completing 15 of 21 passes for 373 yards and 5 touchdowns against no interceptions. Stidham also nearly scored a touchdown on his lone rush. He recognized blitzes and countered with throws into the vacated spot. A few times when nothing was there, Stidham wisely threw the ball away rather than trying to run like he has in the past. You could tell on Stidham’s first pass, a wheel route to Whitlow, that he was going to have a good day. Purdue rushed everybody on that side of the field, Stidham hit Whitlow in stride, and Auburn was up 6–0 and never looked back.
Auburn completes the season 8–5, which is a typical year for head coach Gus Malzahn. This team gave the SEC the conference’s first bowl win of the season, and did so in dramatic fashion. I know that one Music City Bowl win doesn’t change the overall direction of the program, but as an Auburn fan, I have to say that I enjoyed it thoroughly! I hope the players enjoyed this as well. They have been in some tough spots and adversity not of their own making this past season.
In SEC action thus far this bowl season, Vanderbilt opened in the Texas Bowl last Thursday night and came up short against Baylor, 45–38, to finish with a 6–7 record. Friday, Auburn evened the SEC record, crushing Purdue 63–14 in the Music City Bowl. Saturday, South Carolina had an embarrassing performance, being destroyed 28–0 by Virginia in the Belk Bowl. Florida evened the record in the Peach Bowl, mangling Michigan 41–15.
In the nightcap, Alabama took on Oklahoma in Miami in the Orange Bowl in the first round of the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma at times looked just as bad as Auburn did against the Tide. I have to give credit to the Sooners for not giving up when it looked hopeless. Alabama prevailed in the end, 45–34. Monday week (January 7th), Alabama will meet Clemson in Santa Clara, California for all the marbles.
Other SEC bowl games yet to be played include games on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. On Monday afternoon at 2:45, Missouri takes on Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl. Should be a lot of points scored in that one. The evening game features Texas A&M vs. North Carolina State in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
New Year’s Day kicks off at 11:00 AM with Mississippi State facing Iowa in the Outback Bowl. Noon follows with LSU vs. undefeated Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl. I surely hope the Tigers have better luck against this team than Auburn did a year ago. Kentucky takes on Penn State in the VBRO Citrus Bowl, also at noon. New Year’s Night has Georgia vs. Texas in the Sugar Bowl.