In the latest kickoff in program history, the Auburn Tigers (2-0) narrowly grasped a 14-10 win over the Cal Golden Bears (1-1).
It was not pretty, but the Tigers did enough to win. Auburn's 14 points came from two touchdown passes from Payton Thorne. The first was 13 yards to Jay Fair in the second quarter, and the other was five yards to Rivaldo Fairweather to put the game away in the fourth quarter.
What are some takeaways from Auburn's first-ever win in the state of California?
"Defense wins championships" is a phrase that is commonly used in sports.
While championships of any kind are not exactly on the horizon for Auburn right now, the Tigers' defense played like they were competing for a national title.
Auburn allowed only 10 points from 273 yards and held strong at crucial moments. A defense that bends but does not break will be a valuable aspect of this team moving forward.
Auburn struggled to get going
After getting off to a quick start last week, the Tigers struggled out of the gate.
Auburn's first drive ended in a fumble by Payton Thorne that almost turned into a Cal touchdown.
Auburn had two more drives in the first quarter, and they both ended with punts. The defense held the Golden Bears to three first-quarter points which was crucial to keeping Auburn in the game.
Cal's field goal kicking kept Auburn in the game
For the second week in a row, field goal kicking was an issue for the Golden Bears.
Cal's kicker Michael Luckhurst went 1/4, which allowed Auburn to hang in there despite scoring only seven points prior to the fourth quarter.
Luckhurst also missed two field goals in Cal's 58-21 win over North Texas, both were inside the 40-yard mark.
Turnovers were detrimental for Auburn
From Thorne's fumble on the first drive to Jarquez Hunter's late fumble in the fourth quarter, the Tigers shot themselves in the foot with turnovers multiple times.
Three fumbles and an interception will not lead to many wins once conference play starts.
Auburn escaped Berkeley with a win, but there is a lot of work for this team to do.
You can't teach resiliency
It was not pretty. It looked incredibly bleak at times. Auburn, however, found a way.
The offense was less than stellar for the majority of the game, but Thorne rallied the troops and got it done when it mattered the most.
This kind of grit is one of the most valuable things a team can have and it will pay dividends for Auburn as the season goes along.
Auburn will be back in action next week for its homecoming game. The Tigers will host the Samford Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CT, and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.
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