Auburn takes care of business in Music City Bowl
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Jarrett Stidham threw for 373 yards and five touchdowns in his final college game , and Auburn routed Purdue 63-14 in the Music City Bowl on Friday.
Auburn (8-5) rolled in the finale of a season that opened with a top-10 ranking, stumbled a bit in the middle and concluded with a record-setting performance. It was the Tigers’ first postseason victory since beating Memphis in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl.
Auburn scored the most points by a Southeastern Conference team in a bowl, topping Alabama’s 61-6 win over Syracuse in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1953. The Tigers had a chance to match the most points ever scored in a bowl at 70, most recently by Army in the Armed Forces Bowl last week, but they took a knee at the Purdue 1 with 61 seconds left.
Stidham, a junior who already has declared his intention to leave early for the NFL draft, got the Tigers off to a fast start, and they just poured it on from there.
Auburn scored TDs on its first eight possessions. It tied the Music City Bowl records for most points and TDs set by West Virginia in 2000 – with 5:36 left in the first half. By halftime, Auburn led 56-7 with the most points scored in any half in program history after holding the ball for only 11 minutes.
Purdue (6-7) dropped three of its last four games in its second season under coach Jeff Brohm.
Auburn started the game with the ball and needed only 63 seconds to set the tone, with Stidham finding JaTarvious Whitlow for a 66-yard TD pass. Whitlow also added a pair of short TD runs as Auburn led 28-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers outgained Purdue 586-263 in total offense and had only one three-and-out late in the third quarter. Purdue was intercepted twice and turned it over on downs twice. Auburn punted once all game.
Darius Slayton set a bowl record with three TD catches of 74 , 52 and 34 yards. Javaris Davis had a sack and an interception in the first quarter for Auburn, and Big Kat Bryant returned an interception 20 yards for a TD and a 45-7 lead with 12:29 left in the first half.
Purdue: With defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal out after tearing an ACL in the regular-season finale against Indiana, the Boilermakers had little answer for anything Auburn tried on offense.
Auburn: It sure looks as if coach Gus Malzahn made the right decision when he took back the play-calling duties he handled his first three seasons at Auburn.
Purdue: Brohm has a handful of key seniors to replace, including quarterback David Blough and his top two running backs in D.J. Knox and Markell Jones.
Auburn: The search for Stidham’s replacement begins with sophomore Malik Willis getting the first look once Malzahn finally pulled his starting quarterback with 1:33 left. Joey Gatewood also played late in the game, driving the Tigers to the 1 before taking a knee.