Scores

Final

(16) Mississippi St 34

(1-1, 0-1 SEC)

Auburn 41

(2-0, 1-0 SEC)

Coverage: SEC TV

12:21 PM ET, September 10, 2011

Jordan-Hare Stadium, AUBURN, AL

1 2 3 4 T
#16MSST 14 10 3 734
AUB 14 17 3 741

Top Performers

Passing: B. Trotter (AUB) - 146 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: M. Dyer (LOU) - 18 CAR, 150 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: E. Blake (AUB) - 7 REC, 108 YDS, 1 TD

Auburn stuffs No. 16 Mississippi State at goal line to win

Associated Press

AUBURN, Ala. -- Ryan Smith went low and came up big for Auburn.

The backup safety stopped Chris Relf at the goal line with a leg tackle on the final play to preserve the Tigers' 41-34 win over No. 16 Mississippi State on Saturday and keep their winning streak going.

Relf kept the ball on an option and headed for the end zone before Smith brought the 240-pound quarterback down for the Tigers (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), who had gone from defending national champions to unranked underdog after needing a furious rally to beat Utah State.

"We'd prefer to win football games a lot different than we are, but there's something to be said when you can fight down to the end when it doesn't look good and still win the game," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said.

The Tigers apparently still have the same flair for the dramatic as last year's national title team, just with players such as Smith bailing them out instead of superstars Cam Newton and Nick Fairley. It was Smith's first tackle of the season and fourth of his career.

"I was just trying to go across and make the play," he said. "You don't really have time to think -- you just make the play. I knew he was going to keep the ball. He had been keeping it all day."

This time it was the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1) who nearly pulled off a huge comeback. Coach Dan Mullen said he would have gone for two points and the win if Relf had punched it across.

All 10 seconds remaining ticked off when Relf came up short.

"Chris made the call on the last play of the game," Mullen said. "We gave him two choices (pass or run). I put it in his hands and he made the right call. I like that. I like that confidence.

"Chris said, 'I feel great about this run call.' It looked like he had it and the kid made a heck of an open-field tackle."

By Relf's estimate, he was an inch shy of scoring.

"We didn't come up with the big inch," he said. "I should have made the play."

Daren Bates, Jake Holland and Neiko Thorpe had led a swarm of defenders to stop Vick Ballard for a short loss on the previous play after Auburn called a timeout to regroup.

"We called time out there at the end and told them what was going to happen the final two plays," Chizik said.

Mike Dyer rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers, who extended major college football's longest win streak to 17 games. This one will do more to convince poll voters that they can still be competitive in the SEC despite the loss of Newton, Fairley and a host of other starters.

Dyer led the players' sprint toward the student section to celebrate while the final play was reviewed -- and quickly upheld.

The Auburn defense was on the field for 97 plays and gave up 531 yards and 31 first downs before coming through when it appeared Mississippi State would at least send the game to overtime.

Relf, Ballard and Mississippi State put a pounding on them until the end.

Ballard ran for a 3-yard touchdown with 4:51 left to keep Mississippi State alive. Ballard set it up with runs of 19, 13 and 6 yards.

The Bulldogs then held Auburn to three and out and got the ball back with nearly 3 minutes remaining.

Relf passed for 195 yards and a touchdown and ran 27 times for 106 yards. Ballard ran 21 times for 106 yards to help Mississippi State play keepaway.

"He's just a big man," Chizik said of Relf. "He's able to fall forward for 2 or 3 yards. I was extremely impressed with that young man. That is an extremely tough day, taking that many hits and still being able to throw the ball like he does."

Barrett Trotter was 16 of 23 passing for 146 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers. Emory Blake accounted for most of the passing yards with 108 yards on seven catches, including a 46-yard touchdown.

Both quarterbacks had interceptions returned for touchdowns, but the offenses supplied most of the big plays.

Trotter rolled right and hit tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen for a 10-yard touchdown a minute into the fourth quarter for a 41-27 lead. Dyer, who also had a 52-yard run on the drive, had taken a direct snap and converted a fourth-and-1 by a couple of inches to keep it going.

It was close enough that the SEC had to clarify the ruling.

"When the officiating crew put the first down stake in its final position, the nose of the football was touching the stake making it a first down," said Steve Shaw, the league's coordinator of officials.

The Bulldogs converted a fourth down play in their own territory on their next possession but couldn't reach midfield.

That wasn't a problem the final two drives, or many others.

The Tigers took a 31-24 lead into halftime in a series that include a 3-2 Auburn win just three years ago before both programs turned to new offenses and started putting up big numbers.

The Tigers finished with two quick touchdowns to survive Utah State and opened with two more for a 28-point run-up in a 5:28 span.

Auburn's eagle, Spirit, also showed his resilience. The bald eagle hit the window to a luxury box during his pre-game flight. Apparently unharmed, he rallied and landed near midfield as usual.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MSST
AUB
1st Downs3121
Total Yards531381
Passing198146
Rushing333235
Penalties10-757-85
3rd Down Conversions11-204-12
4th Down Conversions1-11-1
Turnovers11
Possession36:0723:53

Passing Leaders

Mississippi StateC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Relf20/331955.911
AuburnC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Trotter16/231466.321

Rushing Leaders

Mississippi StateCARYDSAVGTDLG
Ballard211356.4119
Relf271063.9017
AuburnCARYDSAVGTDLG
Dyer181508.3252
McCalebb11686.2015

Receiving Leaders

Mississippi StateRECYDSAVGTDLG
Ballard56412.8018
Heavens34615.3120
AuburnRECYDSAVGTDLG
Blake710815.4146
McCalebb4246.0010

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERMSSTAUB
TD12:37Michael Dyer 35 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick) 07
TD11:39Demetruce McNeal 43 Yd Interception Return (Cody Parkey Kick) 014
TD10:38LaDarius Perkins 40 Yd Run (Derek Depasquale Kick) 714
TD06:32Brandon Heavens 15 Yd Pass From Chris Relf (Derek Depasquale Kick) 1414
SECOND QUARTERMSSTAUB
TD10:36Johnthan Banks 27 Yd Interception Return (Derek Depasquale Kick) 2114
TD08:37Emory Blake 46 Yd Pass From Barrett Trotter (Cody Parkey Kick) 2121
TD04:51Michael Dyer 2 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick) 2128
FG00:40Derek DePasquale 27 Yd 2428
FG00:05Cody Parkey 43 Yd 2431
THIRD QUARTERMSSTAUB
FG12:13Cody Parkey 37 Yd 2434
FG09:12Derek DePasquale 32 Yd 2734
FOURTH QUARTERMSSTAUB
TD14:03Philip Lutzenkirchen 10 Yd Pass From Barrett Trotter (Cody Parkey Kick) 2741
TD04:51Vick Ballard 3 Yd Run (Derek Depasquale Kick) 3441

Research Notes

Auburn continues to find ways to get it done. It has won 17 straight games, the longest active FBS streak. The Tigers have won 10 straight games decided by eight points or fewer, also the longest active FBS streak.
  [+]
Auburn's Michael Dyer has scored his second Rush TD of the game. Dyer had two Rush TD last week against Utah State. That leaves him one shy of his total from all last season.

ESPN Stats & Information