AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Brandon Cox passed for 202 yards and two
first-half touchdowns and Will Herring recovered a fumble for a TD
to lead Auburn to a 28-0 victory over Mississippi State on
The Tigers (1-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) rebounded from a
season-opening loss to Georgia Tech with their first league shutout
since a 9-0 win over Alabama in 2000.
The Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1) have now lost 16 consecutive games
against SEC West opponents and even tailback Jerious Norwood
couldn't get anything going.
Auburn returned to the formula that resulted in a 13-0 season in
2004: a stingy defense and running the ball to set up the pass
instead of the other way around like last week.
The Tigers held Norwood to 39 yards on 10 carries and constantly
harried quarterback Omarr Conner.
Cox was nearly perfect in the first half, going 8-of-10 for 132
yards with a 33-yard touchdown to tight end Cole Bennett and a
5-yarder to Devin Aromashodu. He also completed long passes to
tailbacks Tre Smith and Kenny Irons, who were largely nonfactors in
The sophomore's starting debut had turned nightmarish, with four
second-half interceptions and a fumble. This time Cox mostly handed
off in the second half, finishing 12 of 18 as Auburn managed just
10 yards in the third quarter.
He completed passes of 23 and 38 yards in the fourth quarter.
Reserve Brad Lester rushed for a 6-yard TD with 2:03 left to cap
The Tigers' running game didn't look all that formidable,
managing 118 yards on 41 carries, but it helped control the clock
and set Cox up for some big plays.
Conner, meanwhile, was 10 of 19 for 116 yards with an
interception after throwing for four touchdowns against Murray
Two Bulldog mistakes helped the Tigers take a 21-0 lead midway
through the third quarter. Herring recovered a fumble in the end
zone for a touchdown after Jonathan Lowe had blundered in calling
for a fair catch before fielding Kody Bliss's 60-yard punt at the
Mississippi State 6-yard line.
Two plays later, Tee Milons bobbled a screen pass from Omarr
Conner. When he got control and tried to run with it, the ball
popped loose and bounced into the end zone.
Mississippi State drove into Auburn territory four times, making
it as far as the 14 in the first quarter before a sack and
penalties pushed the Bulldogs back.
Keith Andrews' 48-yard field goal attempt bounced off the goal