"How do they like us now," the first-year Auburn head coach repeated as the Tigers celebrated their victory over the seventh-ranked Aggies, who were big favorites over Malzahn's team that has received little respect this year going back to the preseason polls.
With Kyle Field pulsating with energy and noise, Malzahn's offense calmly drove 75 yards on 13 plays to take a four-point lead on a five-yard run by Tre Mason with 1:19 to play. Mason finished the game with 178 yards on 27 carries.
The Aggies got the football back at their own 35 with time for Johnny Manziel to work his magic one more time to pull out a victory for the home team. However, after the Aggies quickly moved to a first down at the Auburn 18 with 43 seconds left to play, the Auburn defense stiffened and saved the upset victory as the Aggies ran out of downs as Dee Ford sacked the quarterback for a 22-yard loss on fourth down.
Dee Ford sacks Johnny Manziel on the final drive.
"I had so much fun out there," said linebacker Kris Frost, who made a key stop on a Johnny Football scramble on A&M's next to last play in a wild game that featured 615 yards of total offense for the Tigers and 602 for the Aggies.
"I knew he was going to flush out of the pocket and I had a spy on him," Frost said of his big play. "They key thing was taking a great angle on him and that is all I was thinking about. I was able to get him on the sideline."
Linebacker Kris Frost tackles Johnny Manziel on A&M's final possession.
Frost said the Tigers put together a great team victory. "We are all about having the biggest turnaround in college football," he said.
Ford, the senior defensive end who had two sacks on the final Texas A&M possession, said, "We came in to the game with the mindset that he (Manziel) is a Heisman Trophy candidate and he is going to make plays. We just had to keep our composure and that is what we did.
"There were ups, there were downs, but we just kept fighting," Ford added.
"First of all, it was a big win obviously for our program. Texas A&M is one of the top teams in the country on their home field," Malzahn said. "We challenged our players to improve each week and each game and they've done that. I'm proud of those guys.
"We've been working on getting our edge back and we're getting closer," he added. "It was just a big win for our program right now."
Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said, "We felt like we got them to third and long, but third and medium would be our downfall. That is very frustrating. I give Auburn a lot of credit. They played their hearts and souls out."
First Half Highlights:
The Aggies opened the game with an impressive touchdown drive that covered 67 yards on just six plays. The home team caught the Tigers in a blitz on the scoring play, a screen plass to Mike Evans that covered 26 yards. (For the game he caught 11 passes for 287 yards and four TDs.)
Auburn matched that on its opening possession, moving 86 yards on 10 plays with most of the damage being done on the ground. Nick Marshall scooted into the end zone from 16 yards out to tie the game at 7-7.
Ryan Smith makes a diving catch for an interception.
The lead lasted just 16 seconds on the game clock as the Aggies moved in front 14-10 on a two-play possession. Manziel threw a quick sideline route to Evans who got a block on cornerback Chris Davis and was untouched on the way to end zone for a 65-yard score.
A&M had a chance to add to its lead when Marshall lost a fumble at the Auburn 49. However, Ryan White, who was playing safety, intercepted a Manziel pass as the quarterback was throwing on the run to try to avoid a pass rush.
White intercepted at his own four-yard line as he lost his balance. If he hadn't tripped he could have gone the distance, but his offensive teammates managed to do that. "Everybody on the sideline was telling me that if I hadn't slipped I would have scored," said the senior, who moved from cornerback to safety after Josh Holsey was injured on Thursday.
Keeping the football for a dozen plays and more than six minutes, the Tigers regained the lead at 17-14 on a third and goal pass of 13 yards from Marshall to Quan Bray. Marshall hit 11-23 passes for 236 yards and two scores.
The Tigers had to score twice on the possession. An illegal procedure call negated a one-yard run by Mason. Marshall's TD pass came after he was sacked, forcing the Tigers to throw the third down pass, which the quarterback made while running to his left with 10:46 to play in the half.
The defenses then began to play better. The Aggies were able to tie the game at 17-17 on a 37-yard field goal.
After that the teams looked like they would be tied as they headed into the locker room at halftime, but a series of mistakes by the Tigers gave the home team a chance to score again and the Aggies took advantage of it.
When Chris Davis failed to field a punt with 1:05 left the ball was downed at the Tiger one.
Instead of trying to run out the clock on first down the Tigers went for a bomb to Sammie Coates, who had beaten his man on a deep sideline route. However, Marshall's pass was well off target.
After a second down run by Cameron Artis-Payne put the Tigers on the four they went for another bomb to Coates. This time Marshall's pass was right on target, but the sophomore receiver bobbled the ball and it fell harmlessly to the ground.
Punting from the end zone, Steven Clark's effort was fair caught at the 42. On the next play Manziel hooked up with Evans on a 42-yard scoring pass play that put the home team up 24-17 with 24 seconds at the clock.
The Aggies out-gained the Tigers 330-282 at halftime with Auburn rushed for 168 yards on 29 carries while A&M rushed for 63 yards on 17 carries.
Manziel hit 14-20 passes for 267 yards with Mike Evans hitting five for 182 yards and three scores. Manziel was intercepted twice.
Marshall completed 5-12 passes for 114 yards with one score and no picks while leading the Tigers in rushing with 54 yards on 10 carries. Tre Mason added 46 yards on 12 carries for the Tigers.
Second Half Highlights:
After 41 points were scored in the opening period, each team had one touchdown in the third quarter.
Auburn scored first on a 43-yard screen pass play to Coates to cap a 65-yard drive that covered six plays to tie the game at 24-24.
The Aggies regained the lead on the following possession with Evans catching another touchdown pass, this one a 33-yarder with 4:06 left in the quarter.
The Aggies had to settle for a 20-yard field goal after the Tigers made a goal line stand with 14:17 left to play.
Trailing 34-24 the Tigers marched 75 yards on seven plays to cut the lead to 34-31 with Marshall scoring from 13 yards out on a keeper.
After a three-and-out with Texas A&M's backup quarterback, Matt Joeckel in the game as Manziel got treatment after being shaken up on a running play, the Tigers took the lead with 9:06 to play on a two-yard run by Cameron Artis-Payne after moving 69 yards on just five plays.
Manziel returned to the game on the following series and put the Aggies back on top 41-38 by moving 74 yards on 12 plays.
That set the stage for Auburn's go-ahead drive as the Tigers moved ahead with 1:19 left on Mason's run with 1:19 left to cap a drive that covered 75 yards on 13 plays in three minutes and 46 seconds.
"I just bulldozed my way into the end zone trying to find a way to get those six points," Mason said. "That is what I did. I was actually rolling on Reese Dismukes' back. I knew I wasn't on the ground because I was on top of him. I just kept rolling and stretched out for those points."
The Tigers celebrate after their first-ever game at Kyle Field.
The Tigers improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC play while the Aggies fell to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC.
Stat of the Game, Defense: The Tigers allowed the Aggies to convert just 5-13 third downs.
Stat of the Game, Offense: Auburn rushed for 379 yards at 6.3 yards per carry.
Worth Noting: Auburn only sacked Manziel three times, but two came on the Aggies' final possession.