Nashville, TN – Auburn Quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, just need 1:03 and 2 plays before connecting with running back Jatarvious Whitlow for a 66 yard touchdown. Stidham, who was named MVP of the 2018 Music City Bowl, would not look back from that point on as he reached a high in his Auburn career with 373 yards and 63-14 victory.
When asked later if there was a better to finish off the year he replied, “I mean, it’s nice personally to have a great day. For me, at the end of the day, it was all about the team.” And later added that, “it was really great to get a win like this and to do it in the right way.”
The 2018 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl saw a matchup between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Auburn Tigers in front of a crowd of 59,024 fans. Both teams were hungry for a bowl game win, but Purdue was looking for their first bowl defeat of an SEC team since 1979. Unfortunately for them, losing the coin toss was just the first of many things today that did not go their way.
From the initial touchdown, just over a minute into the game, Auburn was firing on all cylinders. By the end of the first half, they had already amassed 56 points.The point total for a single team in the Music City Bowl was 49 set by West Virginia in 2000, and the Tigers had bested that in half the time.
When Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn was asked if he envisioned getting out to a lead that quickly, he stated, “You know, everything went very well. I think we scored just about every possession of the first quarter, maybe even the first half. But our defense played well. We came out and played our best game, played our best half a football. Really put the game away at halftime.”
Malzahn was right about the production of his offense in the first half. Stidham wasn’t the only player having a hot day. Wide Receiver Darius Slayton had 160 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns on the day. “We were looking to play our best game today, “ he said later, “Also for me on an individual front, it was my best day.”
Whitlow also had a banner day. His reception of the opening 66 yard touchdown pass was the longest reception of the year. He would get the Tigers next two touchdowns on the ground making a 2 yard run and a 1 yard run to put points on the board both times. This was also the first game that Whitlow has had both receiving and rushing touchdowns.
Despite managing to get 7 points to slow the bleeding in the first quarter, Purdue could not recover from the early onslaught.
“We did not play well and Auburn did,” Boilermaker Coach Jeff Brohm spoke of the loss. “You combine those things, we got a little frustrated as it went on, had some bad mistakes that cost us. Just a really bad first half that we definitely couldn’t overcome.”
Purdue Quarterback David Blough completed 22 passes on 37 attempts, threw for 2 interceptions, and ran 22 yards for a touchdown. The rush was his longest rush of the season and 13th rushing score of his career. “It’s frustrating,” he started. “It’s embarrassing when you’re going through it.” Blough did what he could to aid the team, and ended his season with the best completion percentage in Purdue history (305-462, .660), but it wasn’t enough to resurrect the team.
Final score was Auburn 63 to Purdue 14. Auburn is now 2-0 in Music City Bowl appearances. They will make the trip home a little lighter on their feet, while Purdue’s long ride back to West Lafayette, Indiana might feel just a little longer.