NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Auburn spent much of the 2018 football season mired in mediocrity, falling from the national rankings after starting the year ranked in the top 10. But on a sun-splashed late December afternoon in the Music City Bowl they provided yet another example of why SEC football reigns supreme in a 63-14 beatdown of Purdue.
This was just a clean, old fashioned whooping. The Tigers looked like a team full of four and five-star recruits that could compete with anybody in the country. The Boilermakers, frankly, looked like a 6-6 team.
Auburn found the end zone on the game’s third play when Jarrett Stidham found JaTarvious Whitlow wide open out of the backfield on third and one for a 66-yard touchdown. The Tigers then scored the next seven times they gained possession of the ball before finally taking a knee on the final play of the first half.
Whitlow scored on each of the next two possessions, barreling in from one and two yards out of the wildcat. It was 21-0 and the Tigers never looked back.
It looked for a brief moment like Purdue may have found its footing when Rondale Moore took a jet sweep around end for a seven-yard touchdown to make it 21-7, but Auburn responded quickly. Jarrett Stidham hitting Darius Slayton in stride for a 74-yard touchdown to put the Tigers back up 21.
Stidham, who threw for 374 yards, hit Slayton two more times for scoring strikes in the first half as Auburn built a 56-7 lead, setting the FBS record for points in one half of a bowl game and breaking the previous Music City Bowl record for points in a game.
Stidham’s fifth and final TD toss went to Ryan Davis to cap the Tigers’ first drive of the second half to make it 63-7. He left to a standing ovation with five minutes left in the third quarter.
This was an Auburn team that was expected to be a playoff contender this season behind Stidham and a defense that shut a potent Purdue offense completely down Friday. But after beating Washington in the season opener they rarely reached that level of play, struggling to just a 3-5 record in SEC play.
But they seemed to put it all together for this one final game here in Nashville, left the Boilermakers in their wake.
Too little, too late maybe for an Auburn fanbase that expects championships. But this was a statement about the strength of the program, and just how far ahead the SEC is from most of the rest of the country.