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'Our guys believe they're going to win,' says Gus Malzahn
Nov. 2, 2014


Duke Williams, left, and Brandon King celebrate a close Auburn win with their fans

By Charles Goldberg
AuburnTigers.com

OXFORD, Miss.  The team that perfected the last-minute win last season was up to its old tricks again Saturday night.

No. 3 Auburn came back, and came back again, and forced two fumbles just inches from its goal line to beat No. 4 Ole Miss 35-31 in a game that left coach Gus Malzahn remembering all the heart-stopping wins of last year, too.

"They truly believe that if it's close, they're going to find a way to win," Malzahn said. "They've done it the last two years in some of the most bizarre ways. There are a lot of champions in that locker room. It's a special group."

It was a close game. Ole Miss thought it scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:30 remaining, but, upon further review, replays showed Kris Frost knocked the ball out of Laquon Treadwell's hands just as he was going into the end zone. Bo Wallace fumbled on another late series near the end zone.

It wasn't a Chris Davis field goal return, or the Prayer in Jordan-Hare, or last year's win over Mississippi State with 10 seconds left or stopping Texas A&M in the final seconds.

But it was still Auburn football.

"Our guys found ways last year to win when it's close. Our guys truly believe they're going to win the game if it's close," Malzahn said. "They made the plays down there at the end of the game defensively, and offensively, talking about balance… run game, passing game they did a solid job."
It was a typical game in other ways, too.

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall accounted for four more touchdowns, bringing his 1½-season Auburn total to 48.  Saturday, he threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 50 more yards and two more touchdowns.

"He doesn't get too high or too low. He's a champ. He's a great competitor. He made plays in the passing game deep down the field, really ran the read-zone extremely well," Malzahn said.

"I thought he managed everything pretty well."

It was typical, with some long passes down the field. But that wasn't so typical for Ole Miss, whose defense had come in with such impressive stats that it had discouraged other teams from throwing it long.

"We just felt like not a lot of people had taken a lot of deep shots on them. We were just trying to get our guys on some one-on-one things, and let our guys make some plays," Malzahn said. "When we hit vertical balls down the field, it's usually a good thing."

Sammie Coates caught a 57-yarder. Duke Williams caught a 41-yarder.

"We just felt like we'd try to go over the top and let some of our guys make plays. We were able to do that a few times," Malzahn said.

Auburn also turned the corner at halftime on third-down conversions. The Tigers converted 1-of-6 in the first half, but 5-of-7 in the second half.

"At halftime we came in here and you do your normal adjustments, but most of our conversations were on third downs," Malzahn said.

"They're one of the better third-down defenses in the country."

But Auburn hammered the Rebels for 507 yards, anyway.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

 

 

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