After a disappointing 7-5 regular season, Auburn sent its senior class out on a high note Friday afternoon in Nashville.
The Tigers put up almost 600 yards of total offense, setting numerous bowl game records in the process, and throttled Purdue 63-14 in the Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium.
Here are the grades.
It only took three snaps for Jarrett Stidham to throw his first touchdown pass of the day. On the third play from scrimmage, Stidham found JaTarvious Whitlow on a 66-yard wheel route out of the backfield for an early 7-0 lead. Stidham, in his final game in an Auburn uniform, threw for five touchdowns and put together an MVP performance against the porous Boilermaker defense.
He finished 15-of-21 for 373 yards, and had one carry for six yards, falling inches’ shy of adding a rushing touchdown to his historic day. Stidham, who declared for the NFL draft earlier this month, became the third quarterback in school history to throw at least five touchdowns in a game.
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In what was one of the only games all season in which Auburn’s backfield was fully healthy, the one-two punch of Whitlow and Kam Martin wreaked havoc on the Purdue front seven, rushing for over 200 yards on the ground Friday afternoon. Whitlow, who battled injuries all year, was scoring almost every time he touched the ball.
The redshirt freshman finished with seven carries for 10 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a 66-yard receiving touchdown to open the game. Martin carried the ball 11 times for 58 yards.
In a year of missed opportunities and overthrows, Stidham and Darius Slayton finally looked to be on the same page at Nissan Stadium. Stidham went to his deep-ball threat early and often, finding Slayton downfield for touchdowns of 74, 52 and 34 yards. Slayton, who set a career-high for receiving yards in a game, finished with three receptions for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior Ryan Davis finished with five receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown in his final game for the Tigers.
This season was a struggle, to say the least, for J.B. Grimes’ unit. But Auburn’s offensive line saved the best for last, finishing 2018 with their best all-around performance of the year. The pass protection gave Stidham all day to pick apart the Purdue secondary and the Tiger running backs had holes to run through all afternoon.
Auburn didn’t allow any sacks, an area in which they had major trouble all season, and were penalized for under 40 yards.
FRONT SEVEN: A
With leading pass-rusher Nick Coe out, Big Kat Bryant stepped in with a big performance. The sophomore, who will likely have to fill the Buck position as a starter next season, gave Auburn fans a glimpse of what is in store for 2019. With the game already in hand, Bryant’s pick-6 in the second quarter put the finishing touches on a dominant first half, after Tyrone Truesdell batted Purdue quarterback David Blough’s pass at the line of scrimmage into the waiting hands of Bryant.
The Tigers forced two turnovers on the day, with Javaris Davis intercepting the other errant pass in the first quarter. The Auburn defense, who fell off towards the end of the season, held Purdue to 14 points and sacked Blough three times. The defensive line was pressuring Blough all day, adding seven tackles for a loss and six quarterback hurries.
The Auburn secondary capped an up-and-down year with a solid outing in the Music City Bowl. Davis added on interception that set up another Whitlow touchdown to take a commanding first half lead and the Tigers held Purdue to two touchdowns, and 183 passing yards.
Apart from a pass interference penalty, the coverage kept the Boilermakers in check as Auburn forced the Purdue offense to 5-of-13 on third down plays.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Freshman kicker Anders Carlson was only needed on extra points. He finishes the season 44-for-44 in that department.
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