ARLINGTON, Texas — Seth Williams strolled into the media room, just moments after Auburn’s 27-21 comeback victory over No.11 Oregon, smiling ear to ear.
“I’m on a stage,” he laughed.
The sophomore standout was on a stage, and in more ways than one.
With 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter, trailing 21-20, Auburn quarterback Bo Nix dropped back, stepped up, and lobbed one to the goal line where Williams was one-on-one with Oregon corner Verone McKinley.
Williams, with McKinley draped all over him, tipped the ball to himself, corralled the ball and fell into the end zone, for what would end up being the game-winning touchdown, to give Auburn a 26-21 lead with nine seconds remaining in regulation.
“I forgot how many seconds there were but we called a go route on the outside and I felt like, in my head, that I knew that he was going to look my way,” Williams said. “When he threw it up, I saw the ball and I knew the only thing I had to do was come down with it and you win the game.”
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The previous play, which was a third-and-long conversion to keep the drive alive, also went to Williams on a 10-yard out route to get the Tigers into field goal position. Williams, who wasn’t targeted once in the first quarter, had one reception for -3 yards entering the Tigers’ final drive of the game.
“I knew we were going to score,” Williams said. “In my mind, I knew somebody on the offense was going to come through. I didn’t know who would, if it would be me, but I knew somebody was going to score. We worked on too many drives over and over again in practice, so I knew it was going to happen.”
The second-year wide out finished with four receptions for 41 yards, on nine targets, and one touchdown. He finished the night averaging just over 10 yards per catch, even though his impact was halted for the majority of the game.
Safe to say, Williams has caught the attention of his teammates.
“That boy there. He’s different, bro,” Auburn running back JaTarvious "Boobee" Whitlow said after the game. “I don’t even know what to say. They talk about a lot of receivers in college football. We’ve got one of the best receivers in college football. I’m not even lying. For him to do what he just did -- I don’t know. That’s different. You can’t teach what he do. You can’t teach that on the field. That’s an animal.”
After a breakout freshman season last year, Williams has quickly become the go-to receiver for this team, despite being just 20 years old, and demands the ball with his play. There weren’t any doubts about running that play, in that situation with time running out because the team trusts No. 18.
“I didn’t know he was asking for it,” Whitlow said. “I just know, we went out on the field, and Coach Malzahn was saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to run this right here. We’re going to give ourselves a chance.’ And I was like oh, lord. You can never go wrong with Seth. Just being real. When (Malzahn) says we’re going to give Seth the ball, nine times out of 10 -- matter of fact, 10 times out of 10, he’s gonna catch the ball. Just being straight up. That’s how much faith I’ve got in him.”
With the weight of a team on his shoulders, on the biggest of stages, Williams begged Malzahn to go to him when it mattered most. And, he didn't care who was lined up in front of him.
“I just felt like they weren’t ready,” Williams said. “The corner, he wasn’t ready for it. I knew I was in his head. He thought he was in my head the whole game; he wasn’t in my head, I was in his head. He was soft. That’s it.”
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