Auburn, Ala.--Middle linebacker Cassanova McKinzy could feel it early on as Texas A&M jumped out to a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into Saturday’s 41-38 setback that saw the Tigers’ SEC Championship and national title aspirations probably dissipate.
“We did not play to our potential,” said the junior who leads Auburn in tackles. “It seemed like for a minute we didn’t know what we were doing.”
In losing their first game at home in Gus Malzahn’s two years as Auburn’s head coach, the Tigers fought back to a 14-14 tie late in the first quarter, then fell behind 21-14 and were never able to regain the lead as the Aggies returned a block field goal for 65-yard touchdown on the final play of the first half to take a 28-17 lead.
The Tigers never gave up with the defense stiffening somewhat by not allowing an offensive touchdown the final 40 minutes of the game as the Aggies used the blocked field goal and two Josh Lambo field goals to pad their lead.
“Both sides of the ball made a lot of bad decisions, a lot of errors in the first half,” McKinzy. “We came out to fight in the second half because we knew we were the best team. We just made too many mistakes. We felt like it was never too late. We made some plays, but they came out on top.”
Auburn had its chances late in the game with a comeback that was dashed with two fumbles in the final 2:37 to play, one inside the Texas A&M five-yard line and the other on early snap at the Aggies’ 28 with 28 seconds remaining. A field goal would have sent the game to overtime and a touchdown would have won it for Auburn.
“I don’t believe in miracle,”McKinzy said. “I do believe when it was tight at the end everybody in the stands and everyone that watches college football thought that we would win the game, but it came up on the wrong side of the tracks for us.”
Asked why offenses have been able to move the ball so well against the Auburn defense the past three games, McKinzy said, “It’s all about adjustments. People watch film and adjust to what we do. The second half we adjusted and played Auburn football.”
As for the future, we have to come out just like we do after a win. We have to look at film, correct our mistakes and turn the page to the next game.”
In other news and notes:
•Auburn’s 582 yards of total offense (363 yards rushing, 219 yards passing) are the 25th-most in a single game in school history and the most in a loss. The previous high was 539 yards in a four overtime loss to Georgia in 1996 (56-49).
*The 79 combined points are tied for the 25th-most in school history.
*Auburn’s 38 points are tied for the most in has scored in a regulation loss in school history (Florida, 1995, 49-38; Wake Forest, 1979, 42-38). It is the most points Auburn has scored in a loss since a four overtime loss to Georgia in 1996 (56-49).
*Auburn’s first scoring drive (13 plays, 75 yards) lasted 5:29, its third-longest time-wise of the season. The only two scoring drives that lasted longer came at No. 20 Kansas State (15 plays, 80 yards, 5:34 and 12 plays, 39 yards, 5:48).
*After allowing five touchdowns in the first half, Auburn held Texas A&M to six points in the second half (two field goals).
*The 35 points are the most allowed by Auburn in the first half since the Alabama game in 2012 (42 points).
*Auburn is 302-233-18 in SEC action during the past 81 seasons.
*The loss snapped Auburn’s 14-game home winning streak, which was the longest in the nation entering the game.
•In SEC home games, Auburn is 125-52-6 all-time.
*Auburn is 18-2-3 when ranked No. 3 in the AP poll.
*Auburn has now scored at least 20 points in every game since the beginning of the 2013 season.
*In its history Auburn is 311-6 (.981) when scoring at least 30 points.
• Auburn is 16-2 since 2005 in games in which both teams score 30-plus points.
*Auburn has scored an offensive touchdown in 49 of the last 54 quarters vs. SEC opponents.
*Auburn is 229-175-20 (.564) all-time in November games (22-12 in November games since 2004) and 92-35-5 all-time at home in November.
*Texas A&M blocked an Auburn field goal attempt to end the second quarter, returning it 65 yards for a touchdown. The last team to block an Auburn field goal attempt was Georgia in 2013. The last Auburn kick to be blocked and returned for a touchdown was a punt against Mississippi State in 2009, a 10-yard return.
*Texas A&M now leads the all-time series, 4-1, and has won both meetings at Auburn.
*There have been a combined 249 points and 3,258 yards of total offense in the Auburn-Texas A&M games in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
*Center Reese Dismukes and defensive lineman Gabe Wright continued to serve as Auburn captains as they have each game this season. Auburn won the toss and deferred to the second half with A&M receiving the opening kickoff.
*Bald Eagle Spirit did the pre-game flight on Military Appreciation Date during which Opelika resident Bennie Adkins was honored. Adkins recently received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his action during Vietnam when the Arm y sergeant is credited with saving several of his fellow soldiers and killed several enemy combatants.
*Former NCAA champion swimmer T.J. Leon was presented the 2014 Cliff Hare Award as Auburn’s athlete that most epitomizes the Auburn Creed. The five-time All-America selection earned his degree in biomedical sciences with a 4.0 grade point average and is a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
*Entering the Texas A&M game, Auburn had the third-longest active streak nationally with 19 straight weeks ranked in the AP Top 10. Alabama (61) and Florida State (27) were ahead of the Tigers.
*The Tigers are a FBS best 16-2 since 2005 in games in which both teams scored 30 or more points.
*Auburn had the longest current home winning streak nationally prior to the loss to Texas A&M. The Tigers were a perfect 14-0 at Jordan-Hare Stadium prior to Saturday since Gus Malzahn took over as head coach in 2013.