By Greg Ostendorf
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – If you were looking for the player most excited about Saturday’s game, it wasn’t hard to spot him on the field beforehand. During pre-game warmups, Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham was jumping around yelling, ‘We’re in Texas now, baby!”
This was a guy that spent the first 20 years of his life in the Lone Star State. As a high school player in Texas, he threw for 6,516 yards and 80 touchdowns. He started as a true freshman at Baylor before transferring to a nearby community college. And his dream growing up was always to play a game at Kyle Field, a dream that became a reality Saturday.
It also didn’t hurt that his family, his girlfriend and her family, and his two best friends were all there to see Stidham and Auburn play at Texas A&M.
So was it everything he had hoped for and more?
“Yeah, it was fun,” Stidham said afterwards. “I’ve been to a lot of games here over the years. It was cool just to finally experience it myself and finally get a win here.”
Really? That’s it? The guy is too modest.
“He was definitely hyped up for this game,” Stidham’s teammate Darius Slayton said. “Being from Texas, he obviously wanted to come out here and perform well, and I think he did that.”
That’s more like it. And playing his first game in the state of Texas since 2015, Stidham did perform well. He was efficient, completing 20 of his 27 pass attempts. He threw 10 straight completions before his first incomplete pass. He connected on a couple deep shots, including a 53-yard touchdown pass to Slayton late in the first half that helped give the offense a spark.
“That was huge,” Stidham said. “Any time you can make a big play like that, hit a pass that like that, it’s really exciting for us. It’s something we try to execute every week.”
And when the final seconds ticked away Saturday, Stidham had 268 yards passing, 27 yards rushing and three touchdowns while playing in his home state against a team that was one of his finalists during the recruiting process. But the only thing that mattered to him was that he and his Auburn teammates left Kyle Field with a 42-27 win over Texas A&M.
“It’s part of it,” Stidham said. “Teams recruit you. Teams don’t recruit you. It’s just part of it. I’m glad to be an Auburn Tiger and get the win today.”
After the game, Stidham made a point to run over and greet friends and family who were at the game. However, the homecoming celebration will have to be short-lived as the sophomore quarterback will go from playing in his home state one week to playing the No. 1 team in the country the following week.
That’s what will be at stake when No. 1 Georgia comes to town next weekend, and by that point, Saturday’s game at Texas A&M will already be a distant memory.
“I think it’s a big opportunity for us,” Stidham said. “We get to play the No. 1 team in the country at home. Obviously, Georgia’s a great team. We haven’t had much success the last few years against them, but I like where this team sits right now. I think we’re ready to play.”
Stidham can turn the page, but Saturday's victory at Texas A&M will be one of those games he won’t soon forget.
Greg Ostendorf is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: