Rapid Reaction: Once again, Auburn's Iron Bowl momentum fades away in a bowl loss
Auburn’s Iron Bowl hangover continues.
For the 3rd consecutive time, Auburn followed a victory over Alabama by losing its bowl game.
Wednesday, the Tigers lost 31-24 to Minnesota in the Outback Bowl. In 2017, they beat Alabama but lost to UCF in the Peach Bowl. In 2013, they beat Alabama but lost the BCS national title game to Florida State. Not since 2010 have the Tigers won the Iron Bowl and a bowl game in the same season.
Wednesday’s outcome was strange from the start.
Minnesota dominated the line of scrimmage. Tyler Johnson, who had 12 catches for 204 yards and 2 TDs, looked like the best receiver in the nation. Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown played, but their impact was oddly minimal.
The Golden Gophers had 24 points and 291 total yards by halftime. Their point total exceeded Auburn’s typical allowance this season (18.6 points) and their yards nearly matched it (323 per game). They outrushed Auburn 141 yards to 5. That’s not a typo, and it’s not a winning formula, either.
Auburn scored 2 TDs in the 1st half — but only one came on offense. Noah Igbinoghene returned a kickoff 96 yards to give Auburn a 10-3 lead. After Minnesota scored 14 unanswered points, Bo Nix hit Sal Cannella for a 37-yard TD to tie it at 17.
Minnesota then drove 75 yards in 9 plays, scoring just before halftime when Tyler Johnson made a spectacular, leaping, 1-handed grab at the back edge of the end zone to make it 24-17.
Auburn retied the score on its opening drive of the 3rd quarter. Bo Nix keyed the 83-yard drive, picking up a pair of 1st downs with his legs and a couple more on completions to Seth Williams. Boobie Whitlow scored when he dived over the top on a 3-yard TD run.
Minnesota delivered the dagger early in the 4th quarter when Tanner Morgan again found Johnson, this time for a 73-yard TD to make it 31-24. There was no degree of difficulty as Johnson simply flew past the Auburn secondary on a post route and jogged untouched into the end zone. It was Johnson’s 11th catch and 2nd TD reception of the afternoon. That was Johnson’s 36th career TD catch, most in Minnesota history.
Just like that, all of the good vibes the Tigers felt since ending Alabama’s Playoff dreams in late November faded away, replaced by an annual, aggravating question on The Plains.
How much is Gus’ buyout?