The junior tailback tied the 25-year-old Auburn school record of five rushing touchdowns by Joe Cribbs vs. Vandy on just 13 first half carries for 154 yards. Williams staked the Tigers to a 38-7 halftime advantage on the way to a 45-13 butt kicking of Mississippi State on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
In the second half, the Cadillac carried the ball just two times, but one was a six-yard TD run to set the record before he watched the rest of the action from the sidelines. With 164 rushing yards, his third straight time past the 150-yard barrier, Williams set a personal touchdown record going back to his days of pee wee football. His previous high was four in one game
Carnell Williams explodes for one of his six touchdowns in Saturday's game.
Auburn, winners of five straight after losing the opening two, reached the halfway point of the SEC schedule 4-0, the only unbeaten team in league play other than 3-0 Ole Miss. Mississippi State's two-game winning streak was spindled, folded and mutilated on a postcard perfect afternoon as 86,063 fans enjoyed the festivities at sun-drenched Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"Those guys up front were coming off the ball great," Williams said. "Coming into this game, we just got this vibe going with us there. We just felt like we were going out on Saturday and get it done."
After the game, running backs coach Eddie Gran said that Williams is the best back he has ever coached, including NFL star Deuce McAllister. He had praise for the running of both Williams and backup Brandon Jacobs, who led all rushers with 182 yards on 31 carries. However, nobody got more praise from the running backs coach than the guys in the trenches. "It all starts up front and you have got to put this on our offensive line," Gran said.
That group helped the Tigers rack up an impressive 410 yards of total offense by halftime with 286 coming on the ground. Hugh Nall, the offensive coordinator and line coach, said he was particularly proud of the group's effort considering that regular sophomore starter Marcus McNeill was a no-go with his back problem. Steven Ross started at tight tackle, a position he had not played previously, and got the job done. "Steven just did a great job for us," Nall said of the player who normally swings between tight end and weakside tackle.
For the game the Tigers rushed for 405 yards and passed for 148 more. Nall said he wished the offense could have passed for 250, but overall he liked what he saw. So did junior center Danny Lindsey, who noted that 400-plus rushing yards is something exciting to see as an offensive lineman.
"We knew that as a conference game that we had to go out there and do whatever it took to win this week," Lindsey said. "We got the job done."
Williams got the party started by racing 72 yards on Auburn's second possession as he ran over would-be tackler Clarence McDougal and then used a brilliant downfield block by Devin Aromashodu to help him go the distance. AU moved the ball 88 yards in just two plays for the 7-0 lead. Gran called the entire play "a thing of beauty."
The next scoring drive was a quick one, too, as the Tigers motored 47 yards on just three plays. Williams scored from three yards out after two runs by Brandon Jacobs netted 34 and 10 yards.
State stunned the crowd by striking back two plays later with a 77-yard run by Nick Turner who got through the backup defensive front and then outran the Tiger defense except for Kevin Hobbs, who caught him at the five, but was too late to get him down.
Auburn stretched the lead back to two TDs as the Tigers drove 57 yards on six plays with Williams scoring on a quick burst through the defense from 22 yards out with 14:39 left in the second quarter.
Auburn stretched the lead to 28-7 just a bit more than two minutes later as Williams scored from 17 yards out to cap a four-play, 36-yard drive.
The fifth Williams touchdown came with 4:05 left in the half as he powered in from two yards out to completed a 10-play drive that covered 58 yards.
Philip Yost won the field goal kicking job from everywhere when he made a 42-yarder on the last play of the half. Earlier, John Vaughn had pushed a 38-yarder wide. Tuberville said after the game that Yost deserves the No. 1 spot based on his play in the game, which included strong kickoffs into or out of the end zone.
The Bulldogs scored with 8:15 left by driving 73 yards on the passing of reserve Kyle York. His 18-yard TD pass over the middle was to MSU star wideout Justin Jenkins, who did most of the damage on the drive. For no logical reason, the Bulldogs tried a two-point conversion after burning their final timeout and cornerback Montae Pitts made a nice deflection on a fade route to the corner of the end zone. That left the score 45-13.
Reggie Torbor sacks quarterback Kevin Fant for one of Auburn's four sacks on the day. Torbor spent much of the afternoon in the Bulldog backfield.
Defensively, the Tigers were on the attack from the start. Auburn made some changes on the rushing schemes that got Reggie Torbor free for one-on-one blocking from the outside. The Bulldogs couldn't handle the Auburn senior and the first team defensive front of Demarco McNeil, Spencer Johnson, Bret Eddins and Torbor physically punished Sherrill's team. The coach, who announced he was resigning the night before the game, could never find the right combination to block the Auburn defense, including linebackers Karlos Dansby and Dontarrious Thomas, who also had big days.
"We felt Auburn may be the best team we've seen this year," Sherrill said. "They dominated us on both sides of the ball right off the bat. They attacked us at all angles and we didn't do a good job of tackling. We moved eight men in the box and they still moved downfield.
"Their guys up front are very good. They were prepared to play us. It was as if they had seen us practice. Their offensive line dominated Tennessee up front and they truly dominated us. If the offensive line played that well the first two games, they would be undefeated. They definitely used their line and running back talent today and we just got whooped in the first half."
Tuberville, who got the last laugh on his old and bitter rival, was surprisingly merciful. He called off the Tigers early in a game that could have been even more lopsided, but he said that it was important that the Tigers get out of the game a healthy team and he reported that no Tigers were injured in the making of this rout of Mississippi State. Virtually anybody who was dressed and healthy played vs. Mississippi State with the exception of tailback Ronnie Brown, who was held out for a second straight week with a hamstring problem so he will be 100 percent for LSU.
"It was fun to watch," Tuberville said. "It was fun to watch our offense get better and better. I know Carnell is going to get a lot of accolades for having all of those touchdown runs, but he had a lot of holes to run in. Our offensive line is getting better and better."
In the first half it was a mismatch between the lines. It looked like Ditka vs. Mary Poppins, The Terminator vs. Richard Simmons or even like Auburn vs. Mississippi College instead of Mississippi State. There was no sign of any "win one for the gipper" attitude for Sherrill, the dean of SEC coaches in his 13th and final season in Starkville.
Mississippi's top defensive player, middle linebacker T.J. Mawhinney summed up the game nicely when he said. "Auburn's offensive line beat our defensive line badly. Basically, the entire football game, they dominated us from the start of the game to the finish."
Game Notes: AU obviously didn't need offensive tackle Marcus McNeill, who rested his sore back. McNeill did not dress for the game...Defensive end Doug Langenfeld, who injured his ankle in practice earlier in the week, did not dress for the contest either. His status for next week's game vs. LSU is questionable...Jay Ratliff, who had been injured since the Georgia Tech game, made his return from a serious high ankle sprain...Josh Sullivan had a shaky start as a reserve quarterback, throwing an interception on his first pass attempt. However, the defense bailed the Tigers out with a goal stand....The Bulldogs converted just 1-12 third downs while Auburn made 8-14 while outgaining MSU 553 total yards to 294.