Auburn Tigers Fall 28-20 in Happy Valley

On Saturday night the Auburn Tigers fall 28-20 in Happy Valley to the Penn State Nittany Lions. The atmosphere was electric in the annual White Out Game. It was a close game throughout that saw the team hold on when a final pass from Bo Nix fell incomplete as time ran out on the Tigers.

Auburn Tigers Fall 28-20 in Happy Valley

No Pressure on Clifford

One of the keys going into the game was that Auburn would need to get pressure on Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford. They failed on that one. The senior signal-caller for the Nittany Lions did not deal with much pressure from the Auburn defense. Clifford was 28 out of 32 for 280 yards and two touchdowns on the night. His ability to sit in the pocket with little duress made it easy to find his top target Jahan Dotson. The two connected ten times for 78 yards and a touchdown.

The scoring connection between the two occurred in the first quarter with 2:24 remaining on a four-yard reception to put up Nittany Lions 7-3. The play was set up by two chunk plays in the passing game from Brenton Strange for 23 yards and Theo Johnson for 37 yards. Clifford and Strange would connect for a two-yard score with 1:23 remaining in the first half to go up 14-10.

Auburn Defense Good Versus Run

The positive on the defense was that while the Tigers were getting torched through the air, they were stout against the run. Auburn held Penn State to 83 yards rushing on the night on 33 attempts and an average of 2.5 yards per carry. The defense also stood up in moments during the second half to get the ball back to their offense. The two touchdown scores in the second half by Penn State did come on the ground from Tyler Warren and Noah Cain. The Cain touchdown was with 10:48 in the fourth on a three-yard run that was the final score of the game that put the Nittany Lions up 28-20.

Some standouts for Auburn on defense was Chandler Wooten who led the team with ten total tackles. Smoke Monday also added in eight on the night, and Roger McCreary added a late first-half interception.

Auburn Offense Inconsistent

A big question coming into the game was which Bo Nix Auburn would see. Good Bo or Bad Bo? Well, Nix was not bad on this evening and this loss cannot be put on his shoulders like other road defeats have been in the previous two seasons. Nix was 21 of 37 for 185 yards but zero touchdowns. He also had zero interceptions but came close to one. The big issue with the passing game was the receivers. An issue that might plague Auburn this season is the lack of playmakers at the position. No one seemed capable of making a big play for their quarterback. They were not horrible, but no standouts in this group from this outing.

Auburn was their most effective against Penn State when they leaned on the running of Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter. The Tigers ran for a total of 182 yards for a 4.6 average on 40 attempts. Bigsby had 102 yards and two touchdowns, and Hunter added 63 yards on his nine carries. The most impressive drives were both 75-yard drives that featured Bigsby heavily. The first came early in the second quarter trailing Penn State 7-3 when Tank scored on a four-yard run with 4:56 left until halftime.

Second Half Comeback Attempt

To open the second half Auburn went the trick play route and it backfired. Receiver Kobe Hudson fumbled on a play that saw him looking to throw but lost control when looking to run. Penn State went up 21-10 a few plays later on a two-yard run by Warren. Auburn answered back with another 75-yard drive that was a Bigsby run for 38 yards and capped it off with a six-yard touchdown with 5:52 left in the third quarter. That was the last Auburn touchdown.

They would get the second Anders Carlson field goal to get within 21-20 with 14:55 left in the fourth. With 3:08 left Auburn faced a fourth and goal from the Penn State two down 28-20 and called a timeout to set something up. Instead of giving it to one of their backs or perhaps a rollout play for Nix, they went with a fade pass to the corner of the endzone. That is one of the most ineffective pass plays, and it did not work for the Tigers. They did get the ball back with 38 seconds left and made their way to the Penn State 26, but the final pass attempt fell incomplete. The Auburn Tigers fall 28-20 in Happy Valley.

What’s Next?

Auburn continued their losing ways on the road now going 13-18 in their last 31 away games. That was something Bryan Harsin was looking to change from the previous coaching staff. Despite the loss though, there are things to be positive about. The Tigers showed a lot of fight and Nix did not make any mistakes that cost his team the game. If anything some questionable play calls and decisions from the coaching staff cost the Tigers against the Nittany Lions. They will now return home to play Georgia State out of the Sun Belt.


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