The Auburn Tigers got the Gus Malzahn era off to a winning start with a 31-24 victory over the Washington State Cougars. The Tigers forced three turnovers and were able to hang on late in the fourth quarter for the win.
Washington State started the game off well, driving 75 yards on the opening possession for a touchdown. The teams went back-and-forth during the rest of the first half with five lead changes. A field goal late in the half gave Auburn a 25-21 lead going into halftime.
The two teams exchanged field goals during the third quarter and the Tigers began the fourth quarter with a four-point lead. Auburn went up 31-24 with a field goal, Washington State threatened twice, but the Tigers were able to hold on for the win. WSU drove to Auburn's 8-yard line before Connor Halliday threw his third interception of the night.
Following an Auburn fumble, WSU had one final chance, but a fourth-down attempt fell incomplete and the Tigers ran out the clock for the win.
Halliday finished 35-of-66 for 344 yards, but threw three costly interceptions. A year after averaging less than 30 rushing yards per game, WSU had success on the ground against Auburn, racking up 120 rushing yards. WSU stayed in the game until the end thanks in large part to their success on third down. WSU finished 7-of-17 on third-down conversions and 2-of-4 on fourth down conversions.
The Tigers' offense didn't wow in Malzahn's debut as head coach, but Auburn made enough big plays to win. Tre Mason returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score while Corey Grant broke free for a 75-yard touchdown run. Nick Marshall finished 10-of-19 for 99 yards in his Auburn debut.