"A win's a win," said Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. "They're all good. I've never had a bad win.
"The kids fought, they played hard and I'm so proud to be a part of them," he added. "They kept fighting, kept fighting, kept hanging in there and playing and that's what you do."
The Auburn offense struggled for must of the night, especially at putting the ball in the end zone. Wes Byrum hit three of four field goals and the defense hung in there against a strong-armed quarterback and fast receiving corp. Josh Freeman passed the ball 57 times, completing 32 of them for 268 yards. However, the only Wildcat touchdown was on a pass from receiver Jordy Nelson to tailback Leon Patton.
Once Brandon Cox and the Auburn offense took a late 16-13 lead, the defense quickly left no doubt about it. The Auburn defensive ends kept pounding away at the 6-6, 260-pound Freeman and Quentin Groves finally got to him before he could get the ball away.
"He caused the fumble and Antonio was in perfect position to scoop it up and score. It was a big, big play," Muschamp noted. "I pressured a little bit earlier in the game, but after a while we were getting pressure with four... easy. Quentin and those guys came off and said, ‘Coach, we feel good rushing four guys.' We backed out and covered them up a little bit better than we did early in the game and rushed four."
Muschamp gets a celebratory hug from Eddie Gran.
Two of the better Auburn defenders, Tray Blackmon and Aairon Savage, went down with first half injuries. With those two out for the entire second half Chris Evans and Eric Brock stepped in and did more than just sufficient in the Tigers 23-13 victory. Brock had a couple of key pass break-ups and Evans picked off a Freeman pass with less than a minute remaining.
"We had a lot of kids step up in backup positions," Muschamp said. "Chris Evans, Zach Gilbert, Pat Lee, Eric Brock--those guys stepped in there and played hard and played well for us. I'm just real proud of the effort."
"You have to take your hats off to Ron Prince and Kansas State," Muschamp said. "We tried to tell everybody that Josh Freeman is a really good player and he is. He's a very talented young man. He's got tremendous arm talent and they're kind of what we thought at wideout."