With Auburn starting two freshmen on the right side of the offensive line and giving up four Brandon Cox sacks in the first half, guard Mike Berry said the Tigers offense was a confident group when it took the field with 4:26 remaining in the game down 13-9.
"I was just thinking that we've got to give Brandon enough time and let him work his magic," Berry said. "I was kind of in the moment. I was more excited than nervous though."
"I couldn't even look," said defensive tackle Josh Thompson. "I was almost panicking. I didn't know what was going to happen. I watched a little bit, but most of the plays I had my face in my helmet. It was a nerve-racking two and a half minutes."
"This is my first game and all of my emotions hit me at once," Berry noted. "It's probably one of the happiest moments of my life."
Once the offense scored to make it 16-13, the defense had to hold on for just 2:01. Defensive ends Quentin Groves, Antonio Coleman and Antoine Carter really turned up the heat on K-State quarterback Josh Freeman. Patrick Lee nearly got an interception and Carter almost caused another pick by hitting Freeman as he released the ball. Jerraud Powers couldn't come up with a diving catch, but Groves put the game to rest on the next play by forcing a fumble that was scooped and scored by Coleman.
"That's what big-time players do," defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said of Groves. "They make plays in that type of situation and that's what he did. He caused the fumble and Antonio was in perfect position to scoop it and score.
"We were getting pressure with four," Muschamp added. "We've got some quality football players that can rush the edge. I think we're going to give a lot of people problems in our four-man rush--I hope. If you can rush the quarterback with a four-man rush, that's the best thing you can do. You don't have to take a shot at getting middle-field pressures."
Coleman's 34-yard score sealed the game for the Tigers. Auburn 23, Kansas State 13.