In what many thought was a must-win game, the Auburn Tigers (2-1) welcomed the No. 22 Penn State Nitty Lions (3-0) (1-0 Big Ten) to Jordan-Hare. Auburn was looking for revenge after last year's Penn State victory of 28-20, but that would not come after Auburn was toyed with, in a 41-12 loss.
Jordan-Hare seemed to be near peak capacity, as the crowd was making their aurora felt, as on the second play of the game the Tiger faithful caused Penn State to commit a false start. The crowd was even further spurred on by a viral hit from Owen Pappoe that cause a fumble that went out of bounds.
Owen would go on to be a beacon of hope in a sea of despair defensively for the Tigers. Finishing with six total tackles of which four were solo, he also had a Forced Fumble.
The Defense on the whole however finished with three tackles for losses, and three pass breakups, compared to Penn State who finished with six sacks, 11 Tackles for losses, two interceptions nine QB hits, and three forced fumbles.
When asked about his Coach's message to the defense after the game, Owen Pappoe said “we got to stick together and learn from this, and correct everything tomorrow.”
Auburn was able to get on the board first with an Anders Carlson 31-yard field goal. Auburn would hold the lead for four minutes as Sean Clifford ran a QB draw for a seven-yard touchdown run in which the Nitty Lions took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter, and never looked back.
Another Anders Carlson field goal cut the Penn State lead to one, but it was Penn State who would score 24 unanswered across the second and third quoter capped off by a Krayton Allen yard touchdown run to end the third quoter with Penn State up 31-6 that sent many out of Jordan-Hare unhappy.
A large part of Auburn’s problem was the offense which committed four turnovers, and potential reasoning for the turnovers was the six sacks both TJ Finely and Robby Ashford had to endure while under center, or in the shotgun.
When asked about the O-line John Samuel Shenker replied “We have to make smart decisions from the O-Line to the quarterback. There were a ton of mental errors that I could see. I don’t think we have super mature guys in some areas. Hopefully, this opens some eyes.”
The fourth quarter was played Infront of what seemed like a Texas high school crowd, and Auburn got a positive play on film with Robby Ashford throwing a 22-yard touchdown to Jaquez Hunter who huddled a man on his way to the pylon, which was followed up with a failed two-point conversion making it 31-12 with 14:27 left to go.
Auburn would let up two more scores one being a Nicholas Singleton 52-yard rushing touchdown. While the other scoring Penn State did was a 22-yard field goal making this one a 41-12 victory for Penn State.
TJ Finley would get the start for Auburn finishing 11-19, 152 yards and one interception, Robby Ashford, who Auburn turned to in the second half, would be similar with 10-19 144 yards a touchdown, and one interception. Although expected of Robby both QBs were ground threats with TJ having 21 yards rushing third on the team, and Robby having the second most on the team with 29 yards.
There was some concern around the fact that TJ had appeared to grab his shoulder before Robby Ashford went in. Coach Harsin’s response to the idea that this had been the reason Robby Ashford went in was ““He got banged up a little bit. I do not think that impacted going with Robby (Ashford).”
Tank Bigsby had the most rushing yards with 39 yards, while only having nine attempts. The junior was a hot ticket transfer recruit last year and many feel lucky he stayed at Auburn, leaving some to ask why not more carries?
Coach Harsin's response was “We want to get Tank (Bigsby) the ball, we want to get Jarquez (Hunter) the ball. We want to run the ball.”
Of course getting blown out at a power five school while at home is something that no fanbase can easily forget, many were clamoring on Twitter for a dismasting of the staff Auburn currently has.
Coach Harsin responds with “I am always coaching for this football team and these players. I can control what I do each and every day. I do not control anything other than what I do,” when asked about perhaps being on the hot-seat.
Ultimately, the idea for Auburn must be as John Samuel Shenker described, “We still have a lot of games. We will flush this one tomorrow and move onto Mizzu. That starts a whole new season.” Auburn will play Missouri this Saturday, September 24 at 11:00 am, where hopefully the fanbase comes together and flush this past game to cheer on the Tigers in their SEC opener.