COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — Seth Williams put down the ball and put up his finger — right in front of his facemask, as 100,000 fell quiet.
Auburn stunned them all, and plenty more, and rode off through Texas with a big road win.
The Tigers jumped out to a strong lead with two early touchdowns then Bo Nix fired to Williams to put them up big again in the third before No. 8 Auburn staved off some late scores to beat No. 17 Texas A&M 28-20 on Saturday in the team’s SEC opener on the road.
Williams scored to put Auburn up 21-3 in the third quarter, shushing that crowd with a gesture that became common for the Tigers on their trip to Aggie country — playing in their all-white road uniforms and at an opposing team’s home venue for the first time this season.
Auburn jumped to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in the SEC.
“It’s everything,” Williams said of the win, under the emptied Kyle Field. “I feel like we’ve got momentum coming into Mississippi State.”
Yes, for Auburn — and head coach Gus Malzahn, throwing a fist up in the air after the win as he passed by Auburn’s contingent in the corner of this massive venue — this is just the start.
“Our team is growing up,” Malzahn said after the win. “We’re still not there, but our team is growing up and they’re getting more confidence.”
Texas A&M fell to 2-2 and 0-1.
Anthony Schwartz, on a reverse, raced in for a 57-yard touchdown on the first drive of the game to silence those Texas A&M fans the first time, then Joey Gatewood fooled the Texas A&M defense for a six-yard score that put Auburn up 14-0 in the first quarter — and showcased the coaches’ winning scheme drawn up for the road game. Auburn stretched the vaunted Texas A&M run defense early with outside runs like Schwartz’s reverse, and then slashed inside late. After Williams’ third-quarter touchdown, Texas A&M scored early in the fourth to bring the stadium back alive but Auburn’s JaTarvious Whitlow powered in an 8-yard touchdown midway through the fourth to put the Tigers up 28-10.
Texas A&M scored twice late before Auburn recovered an onside kick in the late stages to ice it.
Silenced again. The Tigers could’ve put those fingers up after each of those scores, or after each of the Auburn defense’s havoc-wreaking stops.
Auburn’s offense powered its way to 193 rushing yards and held Texas A&M to just 56 of its own.
“Man, it’s awesome,” junior middle linebacker K.J. Britt said. “It’s just awesome and something that we’ve been practicing and looking forward to — stopping the run.”
Texas A&M held Auburn to just 19 rushing yards in the teams’ game last season. This time around, Malzahn drew his offense into position to go up big even without much inside running early.
Then in the fourth, a fresh Whitlow helped carry Auburn, behind that offensive line, with the game-icing score with 8:27 to go.
Whitlow rushed eight times on a 12-play, 69-yard scoring drive that ate up six minutes of game time there in the fourth and put the Tigers up 28-10 with eight and half minutes left.
Texas A&M’s late efforts proved futile.
“I’ll say this: We talked about we had to play our best game to have a chance to win here and we played our best game today, so that’s encouraging for the future,” Malzahn said.
Nix finished 12-of-20 with 100 passing yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in his first-ever road start at an opposing team’s home stadium.