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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Final: Auburn 27, Clemson 24, OT

The stories have been sent for tomorrow's paper. Here's a sneak peak at how the game story starts:
AUBURN, Ala. — It wasn't as gut-churning as last season's Outback Bowl overtime thriller, but Saturday night's win might have been just as satisfying for No. 16 Auburn.

The Tigers rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit and survived an overtime session at Jordan-Hare Stadium, coming away with a 27-24 overtime victory against Clemson to remain unbeaten.

Wes Byrum made a 39-yard field goal for Auburn (3-0) to start overtime.

Clemson's Chandler Catanzaro couldn't match, hooking a 32-yarder wide left into the blue-clad Auburn student section that erupted in celebration.

"We just want to make it exciting, that's for sure" said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, who has two overtime victories in his last four games. "I couldn't be more proud of just the way they responded."
Let's get to some bullet points:
  • Where to start? How about the comeback. It was Auburn's biggest comeback win since erasing a 17-point deficit against Syracuse in a triple overtime 2002 win. "You are always trying to figure out who your football team is," Chizik said. "And you never know until you get into situations where you've basically embarked on uncharted territory, which is where we were tonight."
  • The good: Auburn scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter. Quarterback Cam Newton threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns. The offense gained 308 of its 424 yards and scored 24 of its points in the second half and overtime. Onterio McCalebb ran for 81 yards, Mike Dyer 69 and Newton 68. And Darvin Adams had the breakout game he was waiting for, catching five balls for 118 yards.
  • The bad: the whole first half. Auburn fell behind 17-0 before getting a Byrum field goal as the clock expired. The Tigers had 78 yards and didn't get a first down until midway through the second quarter. Newton looked out of sorts, going 1-for-7 for 23 yards and a pick (he's add another in a spot where he shouldn't have forced a pass, turning the ball over to Clemson at the 1-yard line in the third quarter.)
  • Deadline was so tight, I couldn't get any player quotes in. Here are a few:
  • Dyer, on the comeback: "When you are down, it really shows your character. Our team stayed together tonight and no one gave up."
  • DT Nick Fairley, on the defense. "As a defense, you can bend, but you can't break. That's one thing we do: we bend but don't break."
  • Newton, on the team's urgency: "Everybody started to realize that we can't wait until next time."
  • LB Josh Bynes, on the student section's help at the end. "You get the crowd noise involved. I think when we got that second chance to defend the field goal our crowd helped in him missing."
  • S Zac Etheridge, on the same thing: "They did not really have much to cheer for in the first half. We apologize for the first half. We told them all week that we wanted them to be 'All In.' We were not all in the first half. In the second half, we had to give the fans something to watch."
  • About the end of the game: Clemson looked like it made a 26-yard field goal. But the play was whistled dead for motion up front. Clemson's players pointed as though Auburn had jumped offsides, which might have given the visiting Tigers a first down inside the 5-yard line. After a brief meeting, the officials ruled an illegal snap against Clemson's Matt Skinner, backing the ball up five yards. It made a difference. Catanzaro's second kick started left and stayed there.
  • Auburn's rushing defense didn't do so hot, giving up 187 yards. Andre Ellington finished with 140, finding great success up the middle. Etheridge made a huge tackle on him in overtime, though, when Ellington tried to bounce outside on a second-down run that looked like it could have ended in a touchdown.
  • LB Craig Stevens was back. I didn't have a chance to get to the locker room to speak to him afterward, but he said this about his two-game suspension to the Opelika-Auburn News: "I was just home relaxing. It feels good to be out there with the team." Not the greatest game for Stevens, who finished with two tackles and got juked by Jamie Harper on Clemson's first touchdown, an 8-yard shovel pass.
  • Some defensive standouts: Bynes got the big-tackle game he's been waiting for, finishing with 11 and two TFLs. Nick Fairley had seven tackles, a sack and three TFLs. He has seven TFLs in three games. DT Zach Clayton had four tackles and 1.5 TFLs.
  • No turnovers forced for Auburn, which is minus-4 in turnover ratio this year.
  • Auburn had quite a few penalties too. There were four holds on the offensive line in the first 2.5 quarters alone, an uncharacteristic number. Auburn finished with nine penalties for 90 yards.
  • Some injury stuff: Mario Fannin (shoulder) dressed but did not play. Dyer started in his place and held his own. LT Lee Ziemba started his 41st straight game. He's barreling down on that career starts record.
  • RT A.J. Greene looks like he might be out for a while. He went down early in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury. His entire leg was in a brace and he was carted off the field, giving the thumbs up to the crowd. Still, it's not good when the head coach and Dr. James Andrews come out to the field to see how you're doing. Wouldn't be surprised if this is a season-ender. John Sullen will have to step up.
  • WR Trovon Reed got his first college action. Very limited work. Two snaps for eight yards out of the Wildcat, although I'd imagine his role will increase in the future.
  • No blue pants. Can't wait for the next time this rumor pops up.
  • Lastly, all that separates Auburn from its second straight perfect September is No. 13 South Carolina at Jordan-Hare Stadium a week from now. Chizik knows an effort like this won't cut it. "It was a sloppy win," he said. "There were things that we are going to look back and not like. ... We can't win games consistently doing that, but we can win games if we play with a lot of heart."

7 comments:

SteveFC said...

Good late night info, Andy. Thanks.

Moose said...

Andy, great job. This site is great, and I don't think you get told that enough.

I have seen moral victories. This may have been the first moral loss. The comeback was great. But we shouldn't have had to comeback in the first place. Credit to Clemson for showing up and hitting us in the mouth. They set the tone and we were left stunned for most of the game from it.

CrownsCaster said...

A comeback win in OT is NOT a moral loss.

War Eagle

MikeP said...

I think this was a great win. Clemson is a defending ACC division champ and they've been recruiting well for several years.
Anybody that expected less than a 15 round knock-down dragout in this one hasn't been paying attention.

Moose said...

@ CrownsCaster

A comeback when after the opposing teams QB can't breathe anymore and the winning td is dropped by a Clemson receiver in OT is a moral loss. I'm sorry, but Clemson should have put us away and didn't.

Clemson snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

AUsome04 said...

Well us "great comeback win" fans saw that pressure the QB had on him by AC that forced the bad throw. War Eagle.

Anonymous said...

The offensive game plan was atrocious to say the least. Malzahn has left question marks in my mind. He is not the same as last year. His calls are very predictable. Does this team have a TE to throw to? I am very disappointed with him right now.