The Tennessee Volunteers were looking to get back on track at home this week after discouraging back-to-back losses over the last two weeks. They came out against the Auburn Tigers and looked up to the challenge of hanging tough with a focus on bottling up Tre Mason in the running game. But the Vols had no answer for the other member of the Auburn backfield as quarterback Nick Marshall ran wild on the Tennessee defense and led the Tigers to a 55-23 romp in Rocky Top.
Coming into the game, the Auburn passing attack was nothing to write home about but their rushing attack ranked No. 6 in the country. Tennessee appeared committed to bottling up Mason and forcing Marshall to beat them with his arm. They were relatively successful on Mason early and didn’t allow him a run longer than 15 yards, but he still finished the day with 117 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. However, it was the running of Marshall that broke the game open for Auburn.
Twice Marshall finished drives with touchdowns on the ground after opening up the game with a 25-yard touchdown strike through the air to C.J. Uzomah in the first quarter. He finished the day with a game-high 214 yards rushing on the day, averaging a dizzying 15.3 yards per attempt. Marshall didn’t even have to prove himself throwing the ball, attempting just seven passes on the day, completing three of them for only 35 yards and the one touchdown but that was more than enough to put this game away.
While the lack of balance may come back to hurt Auburn down the line, their ability to break big plays in the running game continues to lead them to great success. Will they be able to run their way all the way to the SEC title game at season’s end?