The following is a commentary from WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has been known down through the years as being an offensive guru. On Saturday night, the guru was back in full force, and then some. And the Tigers did it all with leading rusher Kerryon Johnson on the bench! The Tigers ran for an all-time SEC best 543 yards and crushed Arkansas 56-3. The question that popped into my head? Has the Iron Bowl just become a bit more interesting?
While the Crimson Tide looks all but unbeatable, there is a team from Lee County that Saturday night sent a message that the big game in Tuscaloosa may not be lopsided after all. And the man driving the Auburn bus has had a serious chip in his shoulder for nearly two years.
You see back in 2014 Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers went into Bryant-Denny Stadium and put up 623 yards of offense and 44 points- and lost the game. After personally talking with Gus about that game, I’m here to tell you that it’s been eating at him since. A severe case of the Red Zone Blues prevented the Tigers from winning the Iron Bowl that day. If Malzahn needs a dose of optimism over his chances to beat Bama, that optimism lies in the offensive benchmarks that Auburn University provided after Saturday’s game.. take a look!
*Auburn’s 543 rushing yards set an SEC record for any regular-season game between SEC opponents (previous: Arkansas vs. South Carolina in 2007, 542 yards). Auburn also holds the record for any SEC vs. SEC matchup with 545 yards vs. Missouri in the 2013 SEC Championship Game.
*The previous Auburn single-game SEC rushing record was 2013 at Tennessee (444 yards). Auburn has gone over 600 yards of total offense in three of its six home games this season (706 vs. Arkansas State, 688 vs. ULM, 632 tonight).
*Tonight’s 53-point win was the largest margin of victory against a ranked opponent in Auburn history. It was also the largest margin by either team in the series with Arkansas (previous: Auburn by 24 in 2014) and the second-largest in Auburn history against an SEC opponent (record: 56-0 over Mississippi State in 1970).
*The last time Auburn beat an SEC opponent by at least 50 points was 1990 vs. Vanderbilt (56-6). Auburn held Arkansas to 25 rushing yards, the fewest by an Auburn opponent in SEC play since 2005, when Ole Miss rushed for 23 yards (Auburn won 27-3).
*Under Gus Malzahn, Auburn is 6-0 in regular-season games coming off a bye week – previous wins vs. Ole Miss (2013), Alabama (2013), at Kansas State (2014), vs. South Carolina (2014), at Kentucky (2015).
*Over the last three games, Auburn has outscored its opponents 157-24.
*In the last three games, Auburn has outscored its opponents in the first half 91-10 (28-7 vs. ULM; 35-0 at Mississippi State, 28-3 vs. Arkansas).
*The last time Auburn did not allow a touchdown in an SEC game was against Florida in 2011.
*Auburn has held four consecutive opponents without a rushing touchdown. The last time that happened was the first four games of the 2008 season. The Tigers have allowed just four rushing touchdowns this season (2 vs. Arkansas State; 1 vs. Clemson, 1 vs. Texas A&M).
*Auburn has held 6 of 7 opponents in 2016 under 20 points; 7 of 8 dating back to the 2015 Birmingham Bowl vs. Memphis.
*Aside from the kneel-down on the final play of the game, Auburn had zero plays go for negative yardage tonight.
*Auburn’s 91-yard scoring drive in the first quarter was its longest of the season.
*The Tigers’ 183 rushing yards in the first quarter were Auburn’s most in any single quarter since the 2013 SEC Championship Game when Auburn had 212 in the third quarter.
*Auburn’s 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter was its largest first-quarter lead against an SEC opponent since 2005, when the Tigers led Alabama 21-0.
*Over the last three games, Auburn has outscored its opponent in the first quarter 49-0.
*Five different Auburn players scored rushing touchdowns tonight. The last time five different Auburn players scored a rushing touchdown was 2006 vs. Ball State – Kenny Irons, Brad Lester, Tre Smith, Tristan Davis, Carl Stewart.
*This is the second time this year that at least four different Auburn players have scored a rushing touchdown (last: vs. ULM). The last time at least four different players scored a rushing touchdown against an SEC opponent was the 2013 SEC Championship Game vs. Missouri (Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne, Nick Marshall, Corey grant).
*Auburn’s 94 points over the last two games (56 tonight, 38 at Mississippi State) were the most over a two-game SEC stretch since 2013 when Auburn totaled 98 points in two games against Tennessee (55) and Georgia (43).
*Auburn had eight plays go for 20+ yards, the most for Auburn in an SEC game this season.
Not to be lost in this superb offensive explosion is an Auburn defense that allowed 25 rushing yards against Arkansas. Yes, the Auburn Tigers run game is starting to roll, the quarterback is leading the nation in pass efficiency, and the defense is as good as it gets.
While Alabama fans are ready to crown their team national champs (again), I’m here to tell you to keep an eye on this Auburn football team. While the schedule is a monster, the Tigers were monsters on Saturday night. Don’t count them out.
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