After missing Auburn wins over Washington State and Arkansas State, senior preseason All-SEC second team defensive end Dee Ford and A-Day defensive MVP Justin Garrett, who stepped in and played linebacker rather than the "star" position where Robenson Therezie has performed so well in his absence.
Known for his pass rush, Ford contributed three solo tackles to go with three assists. He also had two quarterback pressures. Garrett added pair of tackles, one for a two-yard loss.
"I was going to come back last week, but coaches didn't want to take a chance if they didn't think they needed me," Ford said of Auburn's 38-3 win over Arkansas State. "If I was questionable for Arkansas State, I thought I would surely be ready for Mississippi State.
"It felt great to be back out there," the senior said. "I felt like I had to knock some rust off. It's one thing to practice and another thing to play in a game. I believe I got back three weeks before a lot of people thought I would."
Ford was part of the Auburn defense that limited Mississippi State to a third-quarter touchdown and no points in the fourth quarter. That set the stage for quarterback Nick Marshall to lead the offense on a game-winning 88-yard drive. The drive started with1:56 to play and ended with 10 seconds on the clock as Marshall connected with C.J. Uzomah for the winning touchdown.
"On the sideline coaches were telling the defense to get ready to overtime," Ford said. "I thought we were going to score a touchdown. I was that confident."
In other news and notes:
*Nick Marshall's 76-yard touchdown pass to Quan Bray with 4:54 remaining in the first quarter was Auburn's longest play from scrimmage this year, surpassing the 76-yard run by Corey Grant against Washington State and the 68-yard TD pass from Marshall to Sammie Coates against Arkansas State.
*Tre Mason's 100-yard return of a kickoff against Washington State remains Auburn's longest play of the season.
*The touchdown pass from Marshall to Bray in the first quarter was a career long for both and is tied for the 19th longest touchdown completion in Auburn history. It was Auburn's longest TD pass play since an 80-yard completion from Cam Newton to Terrell Zachery against Chattanooga in 2010. It was the first receiving touchdown of Bray's career. Bray finished the game with 80 yards on three catches. The 80 yards are a career high. His previous career high was 50 at Mississippi State last year
*C.J. Uzomah's 17-yard reception from Nick Marshall on Auburn's opening drive that resulted in a Cody Parkey field goal was the first catch of the season for the junior tight end.
*When Mississippi State responded to Auburn's first touchdown with two-play 75-yard drive with 4:09 in the first quarter, it was the first touchdown allowed by the defense after six straight quarters going back to the second quarter of Auburn's opener with Washington State.
*Mason finished with 34 yards rushing and now has 1,369 rushing yards, moving him past Williams Andrews (1976-78) and Mario Fannin (2007-10) into 30th in Auburn history. He needs four yards to pass Mitzi Jackson (1973-75) for 29th.
*Ryan White and Jake Holland tied for the team high with eight total tackles. White had just six tackles in the first two games of the season and the eight tackles are a career high.
*Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott was the first opposing player to rush for more than 100 yards against Auburn this season, finishing the 133 yards on the ground. The last opposing quarterback to rush for over 100 yards against Auburn was Mississippi State's Chris Relf in 2011 (106 yards).