Auburn lost to New Mexico State this past Saturday. The Aggies came in boasting a 8-3 record and had already taken a spot in the Sun Belt Championship Game. Auburn was on a three-game win streak, winning their last two on the road and the last one by 38 points.
To a casual observer, Auburn was supposed to beat New Mexico State easily, handily, and move on to a pretty big Iron Bowl. All it would take is to throw their SEC weight around for a quarter or so, and the Aggies would roll over and take their paycheck. That is what should’ve happened.
Auburn should’ve left the game at 7-4, have Alabama at home where they’ve won two of the last three, have a chance to keep the Tide from the playoffs, and continue to build on their stellar recruiting from the last month.
Instead, Auburn left the game at 6-5, have Alabama at home where they’ve won two of the last three, have a chance to keep the Tide from the playoffs, and continue to build on their stellar recruiting from the last month.
When it comes down to it, the loss can be attributed to exactly these things: Auburn’s effort, very weird and over the top officiating, and a perfect game plan from the Aggies and their ability to hold onto the ball the entire game.
I’m sure the coaches preached it all week: in this day of college football you can’t look past anybody. There are no absolutely awful teams anymore. Training is universal. Everybody has studs. Everybody has athletes. Even more dangerous is a team that would love to come in and knock off a SEC team. They have nothing to lose. Auburn had everything to lose.
Plain and simple, New Mexico State — this year’s version, not the one that hasn’t won a game against a Power 5 team giving rivals and other idiots a stat that doesn’t matter — is too good for Auburn to show up and roll to a win. Auburn didn’t realize that until the 3rd quarter and it was too late.
To compound that, when Auburn did get stops in the first drive, it was extended by a pass interference call on 3rd down that wouldn’t be called by 99.9% of the crews out there, and then it was extended again by the exact same type of call on a 4th down.
Then on another 4th down in the same drive, the Aggie quarterback completed a pass to a guy sliding out of bounds. It was not reviewed. Then the Aggies scored a touchdown with a guy flying out of the side of the endzone as/before he had possession. It was not reviewed.
The calls may have been correct. But as the 3rd and 4th close/controversial play on the drive, it would’ve been nice to see some care about getting it right. This was just the first drive and was foreshadowing for how the game would be called the rest of the day.
For example, as the Aggies drove inside the 10 yard line to score the final touchdown that has now allowed rival fans and idiots to use the term “blowout” and “rout,” the Aggie quarterback obviously fumbled. The Auburn sideline had to have an absolute conniption to get the officials to review the play, to which I believe they said they were unable to overturn because they had blown the play dead. I couldn’t hear because the officials microphone kept cutting out. Why were they blowing the play dead in the middle of a normal tackle? Why did they do anything they did?
I am not blaming the loss in any way on officiating towards Auburn. Let me say that again. I am not blaming the loss in any way on officiating towards Auburn. The number of penalties called on each team were dead even. But there were 18 total penalties called in a non-conference buy-game. These guys really wanted you to know they were there. They killed the vibe, the flow, the everything.
On top of that, the Aggies had a perfect game plan of running the play clock down to 1 second before nearly every snap. They did it so much that they had to call timeout twice because the quarterback almost waited too late to do so. It kept the game slow and boring and kept the ball out of Auburn’s hands.
Auburn had the ball for three true dives in the 1st half and four times in the 2nd half. If you go 3-and-out in a normal game, you’ll have a chance to fix it a few minutes later. Instead, New Mexico State took ten more minutes to maybe not even score, but by then you forgot what sport you were playing.
Now, to do that, they had to be successful on offense, which they were all day. Their quarterback was like a little Bret Favre. He stayed in the pocket and took huge hits while completing passes, but then would run around until somebody got open. Their play calling was immaculate. It’s like they knew Auburn’s defensive signals. Wait a minute… I did see a guy in a Michigan shirt at the game.
Anyway, it was a perfect storm in every way. I don’t remember anything bad that New Mexico State did and aside from the one touchdown where it felt like everything would get back on track, I don’t remember anything good Auburn did.
Now the good thing about this loss is that it doesn’t matter. It’s a 5th loss. Auburn’s chances of winning the Iron Bowl and doing all of those things I said up there are exactly the things. Rival fans and idiots will act like it means Auburn will lose by 100 this week, but that’s because they are delighting in this loss because they knew it wasn’t supposed to happen. That’s why it’s a thing. It wasn’t supposed to happen and wouldn’t happen tomorrow or the next day.
Auburn has their first really dumb loss in my entire Auburn lifetime. The same loss Tennessee had with Georgia State. The same loss Florida had with Georgia Southern. The same loss Alabama had with UL-Monroe.
It happened. It’s over. It’s the best year for it because it changes nothing. It’s Iron Bowl Week.