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Auburn skips trend at Purdue’s expense

By Jimmy Trodglen

Editor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Over the past 14 years, the average margin of victory in the Music City Bowl was 6.2 points.

A year ago, Northwestern beat Kentucky by one in the closest margin of victory since the bowl game started in 1998.

And there have been a few games where the outcome was decided late, including Louisville’s 27-21 win over Texas A&M in 2015 and Notre Dame’s 31-28 win over LSU in 2014.

But the trend of close games came to a crushing halt in this year’s edition of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl play at Nissan Stadium Friday.

Auburn scored 63 seconds into the game and never relented on a day where records were set on nearly each possession.

The Tigers set an SEC record for most points scored in a bowl game when it blew out Purdue 63-14 before a crowd of 59,024.

Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham was named the bowl MVP after throwing for 373 yards and five touchdowns and the Tigers were comically ahead 56-7 by halftime.

Stidham, playing in his last game after announcing intentions to declare for the NFL Draft, delivered the bulk of his yards by halftime throwing for 335 yards and four touchdowns. The Tigers struck quickly and often to build an insurmountable lead.

“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.”

The Tigers scored on their first seven drives, with five of those series lasting 63 seconds or less.

“It was very satisfying,” Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said. “It was all about those guys executing. I mean, it was a thing of beauty to watch from the sideline, the guys make plays. When we make explosive plays, we can play fast, we’re a pretty good offense.”

By halftime, the Tigers set a Music City Bowl record for points scored, leading the Boilermakers 56-7.

The 56 points were an Auburn record for points scored in a half.

“It wasn’t a great day for us, for sure,” Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm said. “We did not play well, and Auburn did. You combine those things, we got frustrated as it went on, had some bad mistakes that cost us. (It) was a really bad first half that we definitely couldn’t overcome.”

Favorite targets

Stidham connected with seven Auburn receivers with Darius Slayton catching three passes – all for touchdowns – for 160 yards. Slayton’s three touchdown catches were a Music City Bowl record.

The Tigers ran for 208 yards with JaTarvious Whitlow scoring on a pair of short TD runs.

The Boilermakers were held to 79 rushing yards and quarterback David Blough threw a pair of interceptions and was sacked three times.

“That one snowballed faster than most,” Brohm said. “I’ve been part of games that were a bad outcome, but that one happened fast. Every little thing that went wrong seemed like it could.”

Defensive score

While Stidham had five touchdown throws, the defense accounted for a score early in the second quarter when Big Kat Bryant picked off a deflected pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.

“The defense having the two turnovers, the one for a touchdown, was big,” Malzahn said.

Almost a record

Auburn had a chance to match a college bowl record for points scored (70) but opted to take a knee at the Purdue 1-yard line with 61 seconds, running out the clock from there.

Final records

Auburn finished 8-5, while Purdue was 6-7, losing three of its last four games.

Notes

Auburn is now 2-0 in the Music City Bowl and 24-17-2 all time in bowl appearances. … The Tigers scored 28 points in the first and second quarters, the most scored in a quarter in Auburn history. … The Tigers finished with 586 total offensive yards, also a program bowl record. … Stidham moved into sixth all time in Auburn passing yards (5,891) and fourth in career completions (470). Stidham became the first Auburn quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a game.

Purdue is 10-9 in bowl games. The 63 points scored by Auburn were the most allowed in Purdue’s history.

Jimmy Trodglen, editor, Twitter@Tnsports360

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