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September 13, 2008Only a former defensive coordinator such as Tommy Tuberville could have enjoyed this.
Wes Byrum kicked a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter and that was all No. 9 Auburn needed to defeat Mississippi State 3-2 on Saturday night.
"It was a true defensive game," Tuberville said. "And I'm an old defensive coach, so I was liking it a little bit. But I wished we would've scored a few more points."
The Tigers (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) committed three turnovers, missed two field goals and handed the Bulldogs their only points with a safety.
But Auburn allowed only 116 yards to Mississippi State (1-2, 0-1).
"It's all about defense when you go on the road," Tuberville said. "We gave up zero first downs on 14 chances and only 115 yards on offense. You can win a lot of game like that."
The Tigers new spread offense still has lots of work to do. Chris Todd was 14-for-26 for 154 yards and Ben Tate ran for 92 yards on 20 carries.
"We obviously need to go back to the drawing board a little bit," Tuberville said. "But we did make some plays. You take away the penalties and the fumbles, and I thought we did a decent job at times."
Mississippi State scored with 7:05 left the fourth quarter when Auburn offensive lineman Ryan Pugh was called for holding in the end zone, giving the Bulldogs two points.
Wesley Carroll was 10-for-25 for 78 yards for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs could have tied the game at 3-3, but Adam Carson missed a 38-yard field goal with 12 minutes left in the third quarter. Mississippi State had other chances to make big plays, but coach Sylvester Croom said his team made too many mistakes.
"We had chances, but we didn't make the play," Croom said. "When we had open receivers, we didn't throw to them. When we threw to them, we didn't make the catches."
Auburn receiver Montez Billings had a game-high 68 yards receiving on three catches, including a 31-yard reception in the third quarter to put the Tigers in field-goal range, but Byrum missed the kick.
"He made some big plays over the middle," said Tuberville of Billings. "They were doubling up on one side and leaving him one on one. He is a tall guy that can jump and make plays."