12:30 PM ET, September 11, 2004
Davis Wade Stadium, STARKVILLE, MS
Carnell Williams ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Tigers (No. 19 ESPN/USAToday; No. 18 AP) past Mississippi State 43-14 on Saturday.
The flashy slasher nicknamed "Cadillac," who rushed for a school-record six touchdowns last year against the Bulldogs, surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark for the second time this season, and the Tigers dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Ronnie Brown, the Tigers' other tailback, ran for 147 yards.
"We were in the zone -- it didn't matter what down or distance," Williams said. "Me and Ronnie get a lot of ink, but [the offensive line] deserves the credit."
Jason Campbell threw two of his three touchdown passes to Anthony Mix, and Auburn (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) scored on three of its first four possessions to give Sylvester Croom a loss in the first SEC game for the league's first black head football coach.
Auburn won its fourth straight in the series, the last three by an average of nearly 30 points, and this time the Tigers used a punishing ground game that took advantage of poor tackling and mental mistakes by Mississippi State (1-1, 0-1), which entered with the No. 1 defense in the SEC after suffocating Tulane 28-7 last week.
"I thought we would tackle better," Croom said. "Maybe I'm a little bit naive about that."
Auburn's 283 rushing yards were more than three times the Bulldogs' rushing total, and the Tigers gained 465 total yards.
As long as the Tigers' tailback-by-committee system keeps working, coach Tommy Tuberville said he sees no reason to tinker with it.
"If we can continue to rotate them like we did today, I think we are going to be successful," Tuberville said.
Williams scored on runs of 1 and 3 yards. Brown's 59-yard run in the second quarter set up Campbell's second TD pass of the game.
"It's still in our game plan to play smashmouth football," Brown said. "That's never going to change. Anytime two backs rush for over 100 yards, it's tremendous."
Campbell finished 8-for-17 for 139 yards with touchdown passes of 5 and 58 yards to Mix and 25 yards to Ben Obomanu. For the second straight week, Auburn kept things simple offensively.
"We didn't throw much [because] we just wanted to grind it out," Tuberville said.
Auburn's offensive line blasted spacious holes for the Tigers' tailbacks.
Williams ran for 78 yards in the first quarter, and the Tigers went up 14-0 on their first two possessions.
"I knew they could run the football," Croom said. "I didn't expect us to totally shut then down. When they can run it like that, they can do anything they want."
Meanwhile, Auburn's defense had Mississippi State's running game out of whack. The Bulldogs didn't advance inside the Tigers' 30 in the first half. Auburn led 21-0 at halftime.
"From pre-snap penalties to lining up wrong, we just did things you're not supposed to," receiver Will Prosser said.
Mississippi State rushed for 11 yards in the first half and finished with 81.
Jerious Norwood, the SEC's offensive player of the week after running for 112 yards last week, had just eight at halftime and finished with 41 yards.
Omarr Conner was 16-of-26 for 113 yards in his second start at quarterback for Mississippi State. The former high school quarterback played receiver last season. Backup Kyle York threw two touchdown passes to Jason Husband in the closing minutes.
Croom has enjoyed far better days against Auburn. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native and former Alabama standout is 10-5 as a player and coach against Auburn, and is rebuilding a struggling Mississippi State team that won eight games over the past three seasons.
"We have a long way to go," Croom said. "Our entire football team is a still a work in progress."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-9||7-17|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||1-2|
|TD||10:08||ANTHONY MIX 5 YD PASS FROM JASON CAMPBELL (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||4:11||CARNELL WILLIAMS 1 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 61 yards.
|TD||7:48||BEN OBOMANU 25 YD PASS FROM JASON CAMPBELL (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 93 yards.
|TD||6:41||CARNELL WILLIAMS 3 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 63 yards.
|TD||0:26||ANTHONY MIX 58 YD PASS FROM JASON CAMPBELL (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||11:24||BEN OBOMANU 7 YD PASS FROM BRANDON COX (SAM RIVES 2PT RUSH)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||1:23||JASON HUSBAND 1 YD PASS FROM KYLE YORK (KEITH ANDREWS KICK)|
Drive info: 17 plays, 83 yards.
|TD||0:15||JASON HUSBAND 9 YD PASS FROM KYLE YORK (KEITH ANDREWS KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 15 yards.