STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Bo Nix threw for one touchdown and ran for another to lead Auburn to a 24-10 victory over Mississippi State in its final regular season game of the year.
Auburn (6-4) put only field goals on the board in each of the game’s first three quarters, but Nix connected with Seth Williams early in the fourth to give the Tigers a 16-3 lead, then scrabbled 3 yards to score again on the next possession.
“They take a lot of chances,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “They’re very unconventional. We knew they might get us some, but in the second half, with the game on the line, our guys responded. There’s a lot of positive energy out there, and it was good to win it the way we did.”
Mississippi State (2-7) continued to struggle offensively in head coach Mike Leach’s first season. The Bulldogs managed just 240 yards of total offense and did not score their only touchdown of the game until midway through the fourth quarter.
“Nobody really thought when we started this season that we’d play Auburn that close,” Leach said. “So you guys were in for a pleasant surprise there.”
Most of the Tigers’ 345 yards of offense came from the ground. Tank Bigsby rushed for 192 yards and once again helped the Tigers control the game’s tempo.
“He runs violently, he breaks tackles,” Malzahn said. “I don’t think he’s 100 percent right now, and he still rushed for almost 200 yards against one of, statistically at least, the better defenses in our league.”
Bigsby finished the regular season with 834 rushing yards, passing Bo Jackson to become the second most prolific freshman rusher in school history.
“This has been the longest season ever in my life,” Bigsby said. “It’s been a grind. A real grind to be honest with you. Nobody knows what all goes on inside, they only see the outside. But we got through it. We played 10 games. It was a hard year, but we got through it.”
Nix was 15 of 32 for 125 yards and added another 24 yards rushing. Anthony Schwartz and Eli Stove both caught five passes.
Will Rogers was 30 of 51 for 221 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions to lead Mississippi State. Jaden Walley had a game-high 100 yards receiving.
“We were able to make him uncomfortable,” Malzahn said. “We hit him. It looked like an Auburn defense out there.”
Auburn: The Tigers finished the season with a winning record for the eighth consecutive year under Gus Malzahn but has taken a clear step backward in the pecking order of the Southeastern Conference’s rough-and-tumble Western Division.
Mississippi State: After opening its season with a surprise victory on the road over defending national champion LSU, Mississippi State has now lost seven of its last eight games. Their defense can only keep the score close for so long.
Mississippi State will host Missouri next Saturday to close out its 2020 schedule.