NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Three years ago, Texas native Jarrett Stidham was fighting for a starting quarterback position with the soon-to-be toxic Baylor football program.
Now, he's Auburn's bowl MVP and will enter next April's NFL Draft.
For a final game, Stidham could not have asked for a better result. He was named the Music City Bowl MVP after throwing for 373 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in Auburn's 63-14 win over Purdue inside Nissan Stadium.
His five touchdowns were a career-high, and the 373 yards is an Auburn career-high.
Stidham and the whole offense had been inconsistent all year, but against Purdue, it seemed everything was finally going their way.
“I mean, it’s nice personally to have a great day," Stidham said. “For me, at the end of the day, it was all about the team. Obviously last year, bowl game, we didn’t finish well. This year a lot of ups and downs.”
Stidham and the rest of his offense came out fighting in Nashville, scoring 56 points in the first half, an Auburn and bowl game record. They won the game 63-14.
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In their first eight possessions, they scored eight touchdowns.
“When we make explosive plays, we play fast. We’re a pretty good offense,” head coach Gus Malzahn said. “Today it all came together.”
Of those eight touchdowns, four were on passes from Stidham.
All year Stidham and his receivers have had trouble connecting on plays, but today they seemed to be in perfect sync. He threw three passes to Darius Slayton for three touchdowns, one of which was a 74-yard play.
He also threw one to JaTarvious Whitlow, a 66-yard play, and a short pass to Ryan Davis accounted for his fifth touchdown of the game.
Last season, Stidham led Auburn to an SEC West Division Championship, and beat both Alabama and Georgia, both of whom were ranked number one when they played Auburn.
He threw for 3,158 yards that season and had 18 touchdowns with six interceptions.
Going into the 2018 season both Auburn and Stidham were predicted to be possible threats to a conference that has been dominated by rival Alabama.
Then things went off the rails. A team that was thought to have a chance at competing for an SEC Championship before the season started was now facing a possibility of barely finishing over .500 going into the Music City Bowl against Purdue.
But Auburn buckled down in practice leading up to the bowl.
“We talked about playing our best game of the year, and we did that today,” Malzahn said.
For the entire group of seniors who had done their best to lead a struggling team throughout the year, they knew what mindset they needed to have to get a final win.
“We decided we were going to stick it out,” Stidham said. “It was a really great to get a win like this and to do it the right way.”
During his time at Auburn, Stidham threw for 5,579 yards with 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 26 games.
A final great win is the best way to finish out two years at a school Stidham has nothing but praises for, according to the quarterback.
“It’s been a tremendous honor to rep Auburn University every Saturday the last two years,” Stidham said. “I can’t speak highly enough on Auburn University, between the administration, coaching staff, support staff, every single player. My time at Auburn has been, I mean, nothing short of great.”
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