09/19 01:04 CDT No. 5 Auburn holds off No. 20 K-State, 20-14
No. 5 Auburn holds off No. 20 K-State, 20-14
AP Sports Writer
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) --- Gus Malzahn squeezed into his postgame news
conference, gripping both sides of the podium and exhaling deeply.
Fifth-ranked Auburn had just eked out a 20-14 victory over No. 20 Kansas State,
and Malzahn was asked whether it was the kind of nip-and-tuck nonconference
game that he likes to play.
"After they're over and you win, yeah," the Tigers' coach said. "You do."
Auburn's vaunted ground game held in check all night, the Tigers finally pulled
away when they went to the air. Nick Marshall threw for 231 yards and two
touchdowns, and Auburn forced a trio of turnovers while capitalizing on three
missed field goals by the Wildcats.
Still, the game wasn't over until Marshall found D'haquille Williams running
wide open on third-and-9 at the Auburn 37. The completion with 2:06 remaining
went for 39 yards, a first down that effectively ended the game, and gave the
Tigers (3-0) their first nonconference road win over a ranked team since
knocking off Florida State in 1984.
"Our guys found a way," Malzahn said. "I told them after the game, I think this
could be a game that really helps us in the future, because we faced some major
Not nearly as much as Kansas State.
Jake Waters threw for 245 yards, but he also tossed two picks --- one in the
Auburn end zone. The Wildcats (2-1) also fumbled the ball away, and Jack
Cantele missed those crucial field goals.
Still, the Wildcats tried to rally in the closing minutes, scoring on a run by
Charles Jones out of the wildcat formation with 3:49 left. But after holding
the Tigers to third down, Marshall took advantage of one more miscue --- a bad
call on defense --- for a first down to seal it.
"There was a ton of mistakes that we made that impacted the outcome," Kansas
State coach Bill Snyder said. "Auburn is a tremendous football team and we just
made too many mistakes."
The result was Kansas State's lowest point total in more than three years.
"It hurts a lot," wide receiver Tyler Lockett said. "We left a lot out there on
the field. One of the plays I remember, I dropped a touchdown that turned into
an interception. Missed field goals, fumbled the ball. We just made a lot of
Auburn was the highest-ranked team to play in Manhattan since second-ranked
Penn State in 1969, and an overflow crowd started tailgating Tuesday. The
festivities continued until shortly after kickoff, when the Wildcats started to
throw away opportunities to spring an upset.
The first serious miscue was a fumbled handoff deep in Kansas State territory.
Auburn hopped on the loose ball and, four plays later, kicked a 34-yard field
goal to take a 3-0 lead.
The second turnover was even more costly. The Wildcats had second-and-goal from
the Auburn 2, and Waters zipped a pass that bounced off Lockett's shoulder pads
in the end zone. Rather than an easy touchdown, the ball was picked off by the
Tigers' Jonathan Jones.
"Coach always says you get interceptions on tips and overthrows," Jones said.
The Wildcats kept buckling down on defense, though, stuffing Auburn's
read-option attack. The Tigers had just 55 yards rushing in the first half, the
fewest in the Malzahn era.
The nation's best team in converting third downs also failed on its first five
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," Marshall said. "Adversity hit us and we
wanted to see how we would respond, and we responded well."
Kansas State finally scored with 4:56 left in the first half when DeMarcus
Robinson scampered in from 3 yards out for his first career touchdown. But the
Tigers hurried the other way, capping a 75-yard drive with Marshall's 40-yard
strike to Ricardo Louis for a 10-7 lead.
Cantele pushed a potential tying field-goal attempt wide on the final play of
the half, his second miss of the night. He hooked one wide left late in the
He made it a frustrating hat-trick midway through the third quarter.
The Wildcats had once again marched downfield, and once again pushed the ball
inside the Auburn 5. But after the Tigers stiffened, Cantele was summoned to
try a 22-yarder --- a mere chip-shot, hardly more than an extra point. He
missed it wide right.
The Tigers tacked on a touchdown and a field goal, eventually putting the game
out of reach.
"It was a collective team loss," Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller said.
"There were some missed opportunities there and that's all I can really say."