In one of the wildest games of the season, Auburn went toe-to-toe with No. 9 Texas A&M at Kyle Field and wound up victorious, 45-41. Tre Mason stretched a 5-yard run across the goal line with 1:19 left in the game, and Johnny Manziel was bottled up by the Tiger defense on the game's final set of downs.
Auburn scored three touchdowns on sustained drives in the final quarter to provide the difference as the Tigers rallied, and that defensive failure wasn't lost on Dr. Norris Comancho at Good Bull Hunting as he broke down the game's numbers:
9. First downs by Auburn in the fourth quarter. Tre Mason had 108 yards on the ground in the fourth quarter. We were outgained 227-114 in total offense in the fourth quarter. We had zero net rushing yards in the fourth quarter. I'll stop now.
Auburn's comeback came late as Manziel recovered from an apparent shoulder injury, one that kept him out for a series as he went to the locker room to receive treatment. Manziel returned to the game and was admirable even in defeat, but this is the second straight week the Aggies' Heisman QB has missed time during a game to a potentially serious injury, and that's a bad omen with roughly half the season left to play.
More troubling for the Aggie faithful, the issues that led to this loss were ones that have plagued A&M all year, and that wasn't lost on stringsays at GBH:
This loss has been weeks in the making. Every single demon we've faced this year, bad play calling, poor defense, relying too much on johnny to be johnny and for our OL to be perfect....well it all came back to bite us square in the ass. Kudos to Auburn. They played a helluva game. Their coaching staff put together a damn near perfect game plan. Hats off to Gus Malzahn. He got himself a signature win.
Many of the highlights of this reel, via College and Magnolia, come from that fateful fourth quarter. Yes, it's an exclusively Auburn-centric reel, but as they say, history is written by the victors:
Meanwhile, Chris Fuhrmeister at College and Magnolia was understandably delighted and made an optimistic but plausible extrapolation:
Auburn is back. Who knows what will happen during the rest of the year, but Auburn can win every game left on the schedule. The Tigers probably won't run the table, but after this, it's time to start dreaming.
Alabama may have something to say about that kind of talk, but hey, it's within the realm of plausibility now.
This wasn't a shellacking by Auburn, though, and it was probably one of Texas A&M's better performances of the season, especially on offense. Here's praise from Patrick Vint on the play of wide receiver Mike Evans:
Even in a losing effort, your player of the game has to be Mike Evans. The Aggies receiver caught 11 passes for a staggering 287 yards and four touchdowns. Evans averaged more than 26 yards per completion, and accounted for nearly half of the Aggies' 602 yards of total offense.
The story of the game, though, had to be Manziel suffering a shoulder injury then coming back to try (in vain) to rally his team back in the closing minutes. Manziel finished with 454 yards passing on the day (and led the team in rushing with 48 yards, even after the two sacks in the final drive) and completed his first nine passes after returning from a shoulder injury, but he couldn't finish the last drive.
Once again, Good Bull Hunting provided the tribute to its bruised and battered hero, taking a cue from "Casey at the Bat":
With the very next snap great Johnny's concentration shone;
He dodged the rushing line, took two more steps and then was gone;
To make the tackle the backer dragged him backwards down to hell
But no horsecollar was called, and yes not a single flag fell.
"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
And a scornful look from Johnny that the referee was flawed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that mighty Johnny wouldn't let them down again.
Read the whole thing. It's pretty much perfect.