AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Freshman Kyle Allen threw four touchdown passes in the first half and Texas A&M recovered two late fumbles in a 41-38 upset victory over No. 3 Auburn on Saturday that likely ended the Tigers’ playoff hopes.
The Aggies (7-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference), who came in as 23-point underdogs, pulled off the kind of dramatic finish that had become an Auburn trademark.
The Tigers (7-2, 4-2, No. 3 CFP) twice appeared to be driving toward a go-ahead touchdown before coughing it up on plays that never really got going. First, Julien Obioha won a scramble for the ball at the 2 after Nick Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne got tangled up in the backfield.
The Aggies couldn’t get away from their goal line before punting, and Trey Williams just managed to push the ball out of the end zone to avoid a safety on third down.
Then, the Tigers drove inside the 30 for one more shot. Marshall appeared to be still calling the play when center Reese Dismukes snapped it on first down from the 28. Alonzo Williams recovered with 54 seconds left, setting off another celebration on the Aggies’ sideline and leaving most of the Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd in stunned silence.
Texas A&M had dropped three straight SEC games before toppling a contender.
The defending SEC champion and national runner-up Tigers saw both their title hopes and the nation’s longest home winning streak (14 games) end. They’d won two straight on games that went down to the final play, and coincidentally the biggest play against No. 12 Mississippi was a goal-line fumble.
Allen was poised and steady in his second career start and first on the road. He completed 19 of 29 passes for 277 yards with an interception, mostly avoiding miscues against a beleaguered Auburn defense.
Allen capped Texas A&M’s first two drives with long touchdown passes, 60 yards to Malcome Kennedy and 36 to Josh Reynolds for a 14-0 lead. Kennedy had 118 yards receiving and Reynolds also caught a 7-yard TD pass in the second quarter.
It was a turnaround from the highly touted freshman quarterback’s first start, a shaky 21-16 win over Louisiana-Monroe. But Allen’s play stepped up along with the competition and he outdueled Marshall.
It might not have come down to the wire, but Myles Garrett blocked a field goal and Deshazor Everett returned it 65 yards down the Auburn sideline for a touchdown on the final play of the first half, a rapid-fire 10-point turnaround. Auburn spent the rest of the game trying to peck away at that 35-17 deficit. Josh Lambo kicked field goals of 22 and 27 yards in the second half.
Cameron Artis-Payne did most of Auburn’s heavy work with 30 carries for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Marshall completed 15 of 21 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown while running 18 times for 67 yards.
He had only 80 passing yards going into the fourth quarter before finally heating up.
Auburn’s leading receiver D’haquille Williams injured his right knee in the second quarter and didn’t return.
The Tigers had won two straight games that went down to the final play.