Auburn, AL (EETV)- Auburn defeated Tennessee in Gus Malzahn's 100th game as head coach. The extended break played into effect for Auburn after a slow start to the first half.
Auburn's defense held the Volunteers to just seven points in the second half. Defensive back Smoke Monday recorded a 100 yard interception in the third quarter which proved to be a difference maker.
Quarterback Bo Nix recorded his 10th touchdown of the year with a 54 yard pass to Anthony Schwartz for Auburn's first score of the night. D.J Williams had a nine yard touchdown run as the Tigers would win by a final score of 30-17.
Auburn suffered a potentially big loss in feshman running back Tank Bigsby. In the second quarter, Bigsby seemed to have injured his hip. He would not return to game. His status is still to be determined.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday's game.
Defense Continues to Grow More Confident
Auburn's young defense has improved tremendously in pass rush and turnovers. Over the last two games they have forced four turnovers in total. Daquan Newkirk, Jamien Sherwood, and Big Kat Bryant recorded sacks during the game.
The defense held Tennessee to just seven points in the second half. Monday's interception of Garantano in the third quarter was the second longest by any Auburn player since Zacoby McClain's intercpeption against Alabama last season.
Tennessee had over 400 yards of total offense, but it was the defensive stops for Auburn that proved to be the difference. The defense will need to continue to cause trouble for offenses, especially next Saturday against Alabama.
The Offensive Got it Done, But it Wasn't a Perfect Performance
Auburn's offense was not overly impressive on Saturday. The Tigers kicked three field goals and scored just two touchdowns.
Tennessee's defense was able to contain Auburn's rushing game for most of the night. After an almost perfect performance against LSU, the lack of play may have affected the offense.
Anthony Schwartz led the way in receiving with five catches for 84 yards and one touchdown. Schwartz has 1, 303 total yards in receptions, passing Thomas Bailey who played at Auburn from 1991-1994.
D.J Williams had 11 rushing attempts for 66 yards and one touchdown. Depending on how serious the injury to Bigsby is, Williams could be the starter next week. Williams commented on the offensive performance saying, "It's been totally different, it was our goal to improve every week after the South Carolina game and we've done that."
Auburn's offense will have a big test next week at Alabama. They will need to continue to run the football well and avoid negative plays if they are going to win.
Bo Nix Records Another Good Performance
Nix continued his good play with 220 total yards passing and one touchdown. This is the ninth time in his career that he has thrown for over 200 yards.
Over the last two games, he has thrown for 500 yards and scored 5 total touchdowns. Nix continues to impress in this new offense under Chad Morris.
He will need to continue his good play if they are to win against Alabama. Nix's leadership in last year's Iron Bowl should give him confidence that he can battle with the electric offense from the Crimson Tide.
What's Ahead for Auburn
Auburn will travel to Tuscaloosa for the 85th edition of the Iron Bowl. The Tigers won the previous matchup 48-45 in the second highest scoring game in series history.
The Crimson Tide come into this game after a 63-3 victory over Kentucky. Quarterback Mac Jones has positioned himself in the Heisman conversation after taking over for Tua Tagovailoa.
Alabama is looking to return to Atlanta in hopes of winning the SEC Championship for the first time since 2018. The Crimson Tide need to win out to secure the SEC West title.
Kickoff for this game will be at 2:30pm CT on CBS.