Coming into this weekend, the Auburn Tigers and Florida Gators had not met since 2011 due to the SEC’s schedule rotation. It’s safe to say college football fans in general were thirsty to see this traditional rivalry renewed. As if there wasn’t enough anticipation already, both teams were ranked in the top 10. In the end, the Gators came out on top in a game that did not have any shortage of twists and blunders.
After Auburn punted on the opening drive of the game, Florida busted the doors of the scoring open with a 64 yard touchdown pass from Kyle Trask to Freddie Swain on the Gators’ second play. The rest of the first quarter was quiet for the Gators, however, as they proceeded to fumble on their next four drives, losing three of them to Auburn. Auburn couldn’t capitalize on these mistakes like they would have wanted to and ended the opening frame with only six points from two Anders Carlson field goals.
The Tigers had a rough start to the second quarter. Bo Nix threw his first of three interceptions on the day, this one to Shawn Davis, who made a slick one-handed catch and returned it 41 yards to the Auburn 33. A personal foul on Auburn then moved the ball up to the Auburn 18. A couple of plays later, Trask found Josh Hammond for a 13 yard TD. It was 14-6 Gators and they would keep the lead for the remainder of the game.
Auburn would cut the lead to 14-13 after a 32 yard TD pass from Nix to Seth Williams with 10:23 remaining in the second. This would be the last time Auburn scored. Florida added a field goal before halftime to let move the score to 17-13.
In the second half, Florida went into another gear on defense. Bo Nix was running for his life while his receivers struggled to get open against Marco Wilson and the Gator secondary. Boobie Whitlow had a few decent gains on the ground, but all in all Auburn simply struggled to finish drives. Florida wasn’t setting the world on fire on offense either, but they were able to deliver the fatal blow with 9:04 left in the fourth. Lamical Perine bounced out right for an 88 yard touchdown run. This was the only play of the drive. In fact, none of Florida’s TD drives lasted more than two plays.
Florida held Auburn to 269 total yards and possessed the ball for 7:22 longer. This was the type of stifling defensive performance that can win a lot of games for this squad going forward. They forced Bo Nix into countless tough decisions and made him look like the truest of true freshman. He finished only 11 for 27 passing with 145 yards.
Next week, Auburn has a bye and can pick up the pieces before facing travelling to Arkansas on 10/19. The grind doesn’t stop for Florida as they travel to Death Valley for a game under the lights against LSU to extend. Dan Mullen’s bunch has the chance to extend their undefeated start with consecutive wins versus top 10 teams. SEC football is indeed in full swing.