Rapid Reaction: Mississippi State blows lead, rallies for wild win over Auburn to clinch bowl eligibility
Will Rogers became Mississippi State’s all-time career passing touchdown and passing yardage leader, both on the same play, and the Bulldogs overcame a wild Auburn comeback to escape with a 39-33 overtime victory over Auburn.
Auburn had the ball first in OT, but after their drive stalled, Anders Carlson pushed his field goal attempt wide right.
Mississippi State answered with the game-winner, aided by an Auburn pass interference call to set up 1st-and-goal.
Jo’quavious Marks won it on the next play, rushing nearly untouched for the walk-off touchdown.
The victory clinched bowl eligibility for the Bulldogs (6-3) and spoiled the debut of Auburn interim coach Cadillac Williams.
The win was anything but easy, though.
Mississippi State led 24-3 before Auburn scored 22 unanswered points for a 25-24 lead late in the 4th quarter.
The Bulldogs seemingly escaped when Rogers threw his 3rd TD pass of the game, hitting Rara Thomas for a 33-yard score to make it 30-25.
Auburn raced down the field and scored to go ahead 33-30, but the Bulldogs tied it when kicker Massimo Biscardi tied the score with a 44-yard field goal with 33 seconds left in regulation.
Mike Leach then took the biggest gamble of all gambles and MSU recovered a line-drive onside kick near midfield. But the drive stalled and MSU missed a 56-yard field goal attempt and off to overtime they went.
It was this game last year on The Plains, in which Mississippi State posted the largest comeback in school history, scoring 40 unanswered points to erase a 28-3 deficit and win 43-34. The devastating loss sent Auburn into a tailspin from which former head coach Bryan Harsin and the Tigers never recovered.
On Saturday, Auburn turned the tables — almost. The Tigers rallied from a 24-3 deficit, getting back in the game when the Bulldogs turned the ball over on 4 consecutive possessions — 2 to end the half and the first 2 of the second half. The Tigers converted them into 10 points, including a 20-yard TD run by quarterback Robby Ashford after the Bulldogs muffed a punt attempt. A 2-point conversion pass failed, but the Tigers made a game of it late in the 3rd quarter after a short Bulldogs’ punt. Ashford again found the end zone, on an 18-yard TD run, and the Bulldogs’ once huge lead dwindled to 24-19 entering the 4th quarter.
Auburn took the 25-24 lead midway through the 4th quarter on a 41-yard TD run by Tank Bigsby.
The Bulldogs scored first on a 28-yard field goal by Massimo Biscardo, and it was quickly 10-0 on Rogers’ historic touchdown pass, a 13-yarder to Caleb Ducking. It was Rogers’ 71st career touchdown pass, a career record at Mississippi State, and also increased his career passing yardage to 9,386, also a new program mark.
Rogers, who has now thrown a TD pass in 26 of his last 28 games, passed Dak Prescott for both program records.
Auburn converted an early turnover into an Anders Carlson 27-yard field goal midway through the 2nd quarter to get the Tigers on the scoreboard initially. Auburn has now scored in 126 consecutive games, the 2nd-longest streak in school history (149).
But Lideatrick Griffin returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a Mississippi State touchdown and the Bulldogs increased the lead to 24-3.
That’s when it got crazy.