No. 16 Auburn scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to rally past No. 11 Oregon 27-21 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday night. The final touchdown of the three was a 26-yard catch by Seth Williams with nine seconds remaining in regulation.
From the jump, the Ducks were the ones in control. Oregon capped off an opening 11-play drive with a goal-line score from running back CJ Verdell. After Auburn answered with a field goal, Heisman contender Justin Herbert hit receiver Spencer Webb for a 20-yard touchdown to put Oregon on top 14-3 with a couple of minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The second quarter was dominated by defense on both sides. Auburn only managed to add another field goal in the quarter, as two of its drives, including one that lasted 11 plays, ended with interceptions. Meanwhile, the Tigers allowed five total yards for Oregon’s five drives in the period.
Wild Second Half
Down eight to start the second half, Auburn quickly went three-and-out. From there, Herbert led a nine-play, 53-yard drive that ended with a six-yard TD run by Darrian Felix to make it 21-6. The game seemed to have the makings of a rout. However, that would be the last time Oregon would find the end zone.
After trading punts, Auburn scored its first touchdown of the game. Eli Stove had a big 36-yard run to put the Tigers in the red zone. The next play, true freshman quarterback Bo Nix threw the first TD of his career, an 11-yard pass to Stove.
Auburn’s defense continued to dominate Herbert and the Ducks’ offense before its own offense put together an eight-play, 69-yard drive capped by a one-yard score from Joey Gatewood.
Down by one in the fourth, Auburn forced a turnover-on-downs with 5:30 left in the game. However, their offense wasn’t able to gain a single yard and was forced to punt. The defense stepped up again and forced Oregon to punt, giving Auburn the ball at its own 40-yard line with 2:14 left.
On a 4th & 3, Nix took the ball and ran, barely converting and extending the Auburn drive. He then completed two passes, including a big 13-yard completion to Seth Williams on 3rd-and-10. On the next play, Nix found Williams again, this time for a 26-yard touchdown to give Auburn its first lead of the game with nine seconds to go.
Nix finished 13-for-31, with four of those completions coming on the game-winning drive. He threw for 177 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and also ran seven times for 42 yards. Running back JaTarvious Whitlow also added 110 yards on the ground on 24 carries.
For Oregon, Herbert completed 28 of 37 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown. He banged his knee against a defender in the fourth quarter and temporarily left the field but would later return. Verdell led the Ducks with 76 rushing yards on 14 carries, while Johnny Johnson III reeled in seven catches for 98 yards.
This is the second straight year Auburn has dashed the hopes of a Pac-12 contender. In last year’s season opener in Atlanta, the Tigers knocked off No. 6 Washington 21-16. While Oregon can still win the Pac-12, any hopes for the College Football Playoff were all but destroyed with the loss.
Auburn will now head home for the first time this season when it hosts Tulane next Saturday night. Oregon will also head home to take on Nevada next Saturday night as well.